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Friday, August 24, 2012

A launch to remember

The book has been launched! Wouw… it came around so fast, was over in a flash… But what a brilliant night it turned out to be. Really, it was perfect. 

All day yesterday I was preparing myself, mentally. I was trying to keep myself balanced and calm, with as little nerves as possible, so my speech would flow and I’d get my message across loud and clear. Preparing the speech was quite tricky. To over-prepare, means it’s unnatural. To under-prepare, means we’re not too bothered about the whole thing and don’t make an effort to actually say what we want to say. I had no clue if I was preparing too much or too little… But the more I thought about it, the more I realized: I’m gonna be in a room with mostly friends and family… so really, what’s the worst that can happen if I’m lost for words and making an ass of myself? Nothing… I’d simply laugh it off… So, with this in mind I was trusting in ME to say what I needed.

Everyone started showing up between 7 and 7.30pm. It was quite overwhelming at first to realize that all these people (between 60 and 70) had come for… me?! Or just for… my book? Or for both? These people were there for the simple reason that Niamh would be presenting a book for the first time in her life… wouw…(no pressure to perform then! haha) I was able to keep myself calm (the person who was probably more nervous than anybody else, was my mam… poor thing... and she didn’t need to do anything! Haha…). Gradually though I really wanted to say my piece. I really wanted to give something back to all the people who had shown up.

The speech started around 7.45. First Lorraine (the publisher) gave a short introduction. Then Diann spoke. She was my therapist throughout my recovery. We’re still in good contact… I consider her the soul-friend I’m blessed to have found throughout my treatment. Anyhow, she spoke briefly about the methods of treatment available, about various books that have been written on eating disorders and how different everyone’s recovery process can be. She highlighted the fact that my recovery was unique in the sense that I embraced the spirit that’s beneath the illness which enabled me to bring soul into my life instead of self-harm and destruction. 

When she was standing there, talking so clearly, the room was silent. I could see the faces of those in the ‘audience’… everyone started to look so bleak, so sad… There was tension around me… It was as if everyone was thinking the same thing: ‘Oh god, this is dark stuff, this is tough stuff, this is stuff we’re not supposed to be smiling about and maybe not even supposed to be talking about…isn’t this word ‘anorexia’ taboo?!’ I don’t know if these were everyone’s thoughts, but I picked up on a strange vibe. Then I had a moment: ‘Oh no, I’m supposed to stand here and speak about something that everyone in this room considers a taboo…’ Actually, I don’t know what others were thinking. But I, myself, have always had issues when it came to saying the word anorexia and speaking so openly about something that once tore me a part. For so long, it was taboo in my world... And only over the course of the past months has this started changing... and last night I was truly putting my change OUT THERE.

So, still standing there, Diann continued to speak. I knew I couldn’t afford to be driven by fear. So I kept my focus on her and started to feel I was home, safe and not alone in speaking of something that’s ‘taboo’. I thought: Thank you so much for doing this; for speaking so clearly and for getting people to see that yes, it’s tough stuff to recover from an eating disorder, but it’s real stuff and can become equally light as the darkness it represents in the minds of most. I was so grateful for her presence THERE… and it made everything seem RIGHT… because everything I was about to say WAS (and still IS) RIGHT. 

Then came my time… First of all I thought: ‘Please smile and lighten your mood guys! Everything really is MORE than okay!’ I had to dispel the darkness that I felt had gathered in the room and show what can really become of a person, if they dispel the darkness from their lives.

Was it my moment to shine or my moment to get soppy, emotional and disheartened by recalling some minor bleak moments in my past? It certainly was NOT a moment to crumble and fall but a moment to be real.
Presenting a book like this to the world—however small the ‘world’ in Gorey seems to be—was many things. But overall, it was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done! It was the most powerful speech I’ve ever given. 

There were moments when I choked up, but I was able to breathe through it and keep myself focussed on getting the message of the book across. I released my inhibitions, I let down my guard good and proper and really didn’t care what others would think of me, or how they might judge me… I felt so FREE to express ME and to speak openly about the true meaning of life. It was so different to hear my voice saying words that I’ve only ever written… words that can affect others positively and motivate. It was like I’d awakened something inside of me, by standing strong and saying: Life is amazing, I love life, I love myself and EVERYONE has the right, or duty even, to love themselves. Because this is the truth of life: loving ourselves doesn’t mean we’re self-centred with an inflated ego. No way… It doesn’t mean we’re feeling better than anybody else… Because we’re not expecting another person love to us more than they love themselves. No way! When we love somebody or something outside of ourselves MORE than the person inside, then we’re neglecting and harming ourselves. True love for life means true love for the person within. 

The way in which I stood there last night, wasn’t for the sake of Niamh wanting others to think better of her. I wasn’t searching for acceptance and I wasn’t trying to fill in the expectations others may have had from me. No… I spoke and, without force, an extra energy came. An energy I experience so easily through writing and whilst speaking one-to-one with ‘light’ people. It’s like something awakened inside of me… I was no longer hiding behind a laptop writing words of truth but I was speaking words of truth in front of a crowd. They were words that, up until a few years ago, I’d have feared to be condemned for speaking. But by overcoming that fear, breaking down that barrier and setting my story free to heal others and to do the work it’s meant to do, I was experiencing true freedom! Yes!!!!!!!! It was so exciting to share my passion for life and the beauty that lies in suffering, for the first time in my life, with my close family and friends. I know this is only the beginning… Because I spoke only a tiny fraction of the things I wish to share and I expressed only a fraction of the energy inside that I know can be put OUT THERE to help in some way.

What a night! It happened at high speed but the response was exceptional. And I cannot thank everyone enough for showing up. Without the support and the ‘listeners’ I’d never have stood up and been able to speak the way I did. And for that, I’m eternally grateful. Signing the books afterwards was quite surreal… every single copy I know is going to a new home, it’s going to be read and interpreted differently by every individual but hopefully always respected for the truth that’s inside, regardless if the reader finds it too heavy, too light, too complex or too simple. The book is real, the book is out and now it arrives at a new stage… as do I.

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