I think I’m finally over my failed childhood. The reason I know is because I landed at myself as a seventh grader. For roughly a decade I was paralyzed on elementary school. For instance, I was stuck on feeling guilty about an incident with a boy that ultimately had nothing to do with me. I was stuck on my friends from that time even though they didn’t support me through a deadly illness. Two years ago I landed seemingly miraculously at the sixth grader. I then contacted a boy I knew only in that period. Really, though I didn’t need him. I needed Laura as a sixth grader. Coming together with him wouldn’t pull me through and erase California or make up for anorexia anyways. But I feel really good now because I’ve finally found both the sixth grade Laura, and the seventh grade Laura separately. I realize that even though her suffering carried on, sixth grade Laura isn’t special to me; sixth grade Laura was special to other people. Seventh grade Laura is special to me. She is strong, independent and understands being alone. I arose strongly from her–without getting the boy(s) I wanted–today.
Since August 30 I’ve been visiting. Well, my parents aren’t here so I’ve actually been house and pet sitting, in addition to working. The first two weeks I spent a lot of time downtown. I liked it there, found a special park for lunch and thought about my grandparents. Recently, I’ve been more in the urban-suburban area. Everywhere there is a new development. I feel very trapped without more nature and realize how much I’ve benefitted from spending time at the ocean slash choosing to live elsewhere. I wish I could like it more here, I love my dog and am very grateful, but oh how good it feels that for once I don’t have to force myself and just need to get by! I’ve decided I’m going to sell some of my things at the house that can’t come with me in the long run.
Well, this spirit came to me. She was a little girl. Oh-so-happy and smiling, with pink and purple in the background and many animals. I remember eight months ago I imagined her all throughout the forest. I could only see the grown-up version. Then I started playing around with blue lights and making them into trees. I’d get anxious because of the blue light, then realized “I just need some shade.” Last week I became aware of my left palm and bottom of the left foot. Then, today, I found a tree growing in my heart and rooting. Also, the spirit mentioned that I actually am her and just don’t see it. She said that everything is going to be fine, and I don’t have to hold “Laura” together anymore. It’s okay to go to sleep sometimes and not associate with my problems.
Today I met with my grandfather for tea. He died in 1976 but gave me a hug anyways. We talked about forest, family and trust. My other grandfather is a magician. He died in 1994. However the awareness of my Yochelson grandfather is more unusual and new. I’m eager to meet his spirit through imagining.
Last night I dreamt my friend was trying to sell me new shampoo. I guess she owned the store. She went to the shelf and picked out a shampoo specifically for me. The bottle was plastic but gold in design with cursive writing on the front. I held the shampoo to look on the back and knew that even though I liked it and wanted to make my friend happy, I wasn’t going to buy something unnatural. But the ingredients consisted mostly of my last name being listed, each time followed by a dash and different number. The one I remember is “Yochelson-40”. Sadly, I still worried at least initially that this might represent something artificial. Afterwards, I remember riding in the car with a younger version of Grandma Kay (who passed away in 2006). She was driving wearing a white blouse, telling me about herself at my age. There wasn’t traffic and the ride was smooth. From the front seat, I could see the black-paved road ahead. I took in light and scenery through the windows.
First, there is happy Laura from birth to infancy. She is very joyous. Adults look at her and want to brag. Afterwards, meet three to seven-year-old Laura. She is pretty, girly and well liked by peers and teachers. She is boyish in the sense of being athletic but still enjoys style, nature, etc. At the age of five life begins to get more difficult, but she isn’t lost and holds herself together well. Eight to 10-year-old Laura comes next. She is less happy and beginning to break but is saved (slash haunted) by basketball. Even without the same shine as before, her intensity is irresistible. People like her because she is funny and also sweet. Fourth is eleven-year-old Laura. She stands alone. This is her year of feeling like life is coming together as a sixth grader in middle school. There are still real problems, but for the most part she feels good around her peers. Although afraid, she is secretly excited about high school, growing up and boys.
In a way, 12-year-old Laura is singular too. My first year in San Diego, for the most part, I loved the adventures and newness. However, 12.5 year-old-Laura belongs with 13-year-old Laura. There are many, many changes happening now. She is under pressure and cannot see herself in the midst of too much going on. Fourteen to 18-year-old Laura represents intelligence and anorexia nervosa. By 19, Laura number seven, focus returns to to healing. That means no more: “Moving ruined me!” Or, “You don’t know the real me when I was a basketball player!” Slash; “Look what I’ve been through and how special I am because of this disease!” Thankfully, my current focus encompasses enough to redeem the rest.
The other day, while engaging in a specified daily activity, I could feel various vacuous pinpoints trying to penetrate my brain from around the head. I was separate enough from the pinpoints that they didn’t absorb into interminable goop. Since then, I’ve thought about some of the scariest things I worry about and ways this goop-de-shame has taken over and killed my ability to want. What’s left is a red circle enclosing my entire abdomen, which signals: “YOU FAILED ME!” A weight is collapsing her. I know what I want and desire to get those things most deeply but the goop just keeps me so on edge that I become trapped like a refugee in her red. As the goop gets let out and washed away, I take in a sea filled with sparkles, starfish and colorful lights.
Everybody was watching and counting on me—page 50 of Sick
…the intrusively watchful eye of the psychiatrist—page 111
I froze up inside at the thought of having other people watch…—page 155
There are three men or six eyes in the back of my head–each with one per parent–and a total of four in front. That makes 10 (one-zero) total. One man is really stuck under my head. His cyclops-looking eye is mucus green. Another’s eyes border the cyclops and drip orange. That makes three eyes (or four, if the cyclops eye is two stuck together) total. As for the man with the outer two, his gift arrived in a flat, rectangular blue box 1.5 years ago. The box has a black cross, red ribbon bow. Today, I held the box, opened it and found shiny pixie dust. He told me to see through their three-four as zero and reclaim one sight.
Yesterday I met a grandmother angel in a layered white dress. She placed a necklace around me made of yellow pearls and lit up my abdomen where I saw a rich purple kingdom. As part of this kingdom there is a castle, moat, forest, flowers, and animals. She made me Queen, gave me a crown with jewels, and covered my heart with a powerful green stone. She told me to trust the messages I receive and not give up on myself.
I’m made of a baby with a pink stripe, old grandfather and princess. The baby has special powers of love and healing. She is nurtured by the grandfather. The grandfather is very wise, surrounded by dark green with a long beard and crystal ball. Through this crystal ball a princess was envisioned. She is very bright and has command over perception.
There’s a very particular radius containing specific landmarks where a lot of things happened. Some of these landmarks include: the condo, the shopping center, the middle school, the high school, and the doctors office. In my head each place is distinctly concentrated because my experiences were so divergent. At the heart of this space things went well for a period. As the circumference broadens, memories of anorexia take over and the remainder of my unhappiness trails throughout. Today, I was in the parking lot of the shopping center. Suddenly I sensed a broad darkness circulating above me, containing the entire span of the condo, the shopping center, the middle school, the high school and the doctors office. Following the release of this ominous mushroom, it was as though I finally came together for the first time. The reason for this mushroom is not random. Earlier, I was walking at the water. For a while I stood there observing. Then out she came! This girl I’ve been holding so long. I saw her, curled up in a ball, trying so hard to look and decipher herself entirely contrary to the way she was taught life works: get good grades to define yourself here, add a little bit more up on the basketball court there, etc. I took very good care of this girl, but am quite relieved now that she is free.
My sense of Laura got stitched into setting. Through the process of becoming that world, I lost everything that makes me. Throw “Laura” away and take this other version instead because it’s better. She’s a small, comical girl everyone wants to pinch at and to take from. She doesn’t need anything so just eat from her lunchbox. She won’t notice anyways. In truth I needed those people more than I needed to feed myself because I felt so scared and alone. Today, I cannot push up against their webbing anymore. It took a while to stop rubbing and let fully sink in: Fifteen years ago, I was one of “them,” I belonged with those people and had my place. Of course there were other groups too but everybody thought I was cool. People saw me was an attractive substitute version of myself—not at all reflective of the depth, potential, creativity, passion and underground worlds I manifest. This life and kind of fun wrote all over me, creating distance at heart. It will kill me to keep feeling sorry about missing my social heyday when it’s in fact nothing compared to the gold mine I’ve unlocked from inside.
My first name is easy: Laura. I’ve always just gone by Laura. In 2010, I started to integrate Susanne (pronounced a tad softer than Suzanne, but not Susan). For a lot of girls or young women, I think it’s a phase to start including their middle name, such as on social media. For me, though, incorporating Susanne, my middle name, rectified an important distinction.
When I think of “Laura Yochelson,” I get stuck in the way other people see that girl as an eight, nine, 10 year-old. Laura Yochelson, yes, she played basketball and she was a good student with lots of friends. However, in preschool and kindergarten, when all most people could get out was Laura, I was viewed entirely differently. I like that Laura more than Laura Yochelson because she feels more natural to me and, hence, safe.
As I got older and other people had the same name or similar names things started to get confusing, so it’s no wonder Laura became overridden by “Laura Yochelson” almost totally. Laura Yochelson makes me think of the color blue. Laura Susanne Yochelson is purple. She can even be pink, and unlike Laura Yochelson, isn’t netted by red. One belongs within the other, but both are not the same. I need people to think of me as Laura Susanne Yochelson because she is how I would like to be perceived. Since my name isn’t Laura-Susanne, I still go by Laura when it’s without the Yochelson.
In short, constantly rechecking myself until she’s gone.
This is scary and hard to write, but I’m going to try anyways. In Sick I describe OCD via thoughts, rituals, calculations and feelings of being followed. More specifically, that sense from behind like “they’re” coming after me. (Throughout anorexia nervosa, “they’re” refers more specifically to the voices telling me I shouldn’t eat to guard against going spoiled.) A perfectly round apocalypse in the upper back. I’ve done something terribly wrong and my ability to culminate in speech is consequently being deafened. “They’re” going to get me and take her away. To the extent I am able to navigate this “they’re” biochemical loophole dictates my appearance to the world as a person. Most people can’t tell if I fake it/readjust/hold back from the inside coming out in order to quell the tension I experience as if darts are being shot from the outside in, keeping me twisted tight, tight, tight like a rope that can’t be squeezed out anymore. When I was being made, a baby or child some “energy” stomped on me with a very heavy foot, and the impounded imprint from a harsh heel that dug too deep permanently distorted the perception.
I’ve been told that in my soul this life I’m a wild stallion running free. It’s hard to imagine how much farther I’d be if I didn’t have this other stuff to deal with. Then again, I think working through it is my way of test-riding… Can’t wait to experience the real thing soon.
What I wanted: to be a WNBA player.
What happened: I basically quit basketball in middle school.
What one parent wants: to pay for me to get the master’s I don’t want.
What another parent wants: for me to make more money.
Who I probably could have been: applied and gone to an Ivy League like my dad’s side, even though he reassured me that summa cum laude from American University is very highly recognized.
What I should have done: Been more patient with my book until it was more ideal.
What happened: Some people were critical, but I didn’t lose momentum or time and started right away on my second book.
I’ve only sung once, on my own, in front of a crowd. But people who heard were complimentary. My voice is pretty soft. On my own I love to sing or pretend. It is hard for me to sing with others around. It must feel so powerful to be a singer who is really tuned in and able to sing, like, from the gut. I wouldn’t want to be a famous singer and lose my writing. Then again, the idea of having my own recording studio and CD is pretty awesome. I’ve never had singing lessons, though, and would want to write my own lyrics. Along those lines I’d like an instrument to go along with my voice. I want to drum with my hands, learn piano and play guitar.
I’ve done drawing, painting and photography more than singing in the past. It would be hard for me to take up drawing and painting intensely because of the concentration and focus I put into writing. A more reasonable start might be ceramics or craft and jewelry making.
My dad’s mom gardened. She did the roses at her apartment complex and planted trees at our house. I don’t have much experience gardening, but because my grandmother was good, I’d probably be too.
During a period in my childhood I preferred Kamino, which is by nature more alluring. With age I came to appreciate Yochelson’s footing and sophistication.
She doesn’t feel bad about basketball or childhood friends.
She’s plenty cool today.
She doesn’t fret over her appearance.
She has fun experimenting with different tastes and styles.
She doesn’t need to be on top of everything.
She’s very good at what she likes to do and gets by fine with the rest.
She doesn’t regret having been sick.
She has an eye-opening story to share.
She doesn’t second-guess every word that comes out of her head.
She enjoys being known as an author who is authentic.
She doesn’t walk to quell anxiety and think things through.
She surfs and does water sports–almost carelessly–instead.
She isn’t tied down by boys from the past or soul mates.
She meets new people everyday.
She isn’t torn between the east and west coast.
She has her own place.
Today I received sugaring on my skin and body for the first time. The esthetician played music I listened to as an eighth grader, which made the experience laughable and clearing. When it comes to health and appearances, I generally focus most on the face. Each time I make contact with the remnants of “Laura” stuck underneath “there,” she emerges a little more. The face is different than designing my hair or make-up. Although these things are fun and relevant, they are also more superficial.
The notes begin long, then I get into brief symbolism. Different dreams refer to a him or he, but often I don’t mean the same person.
I’m at a mall. From a distance, I look out the window and see ominous mountains. As I get closer, I realize there are buds and bushes. One of my friends–a famous actress in reality–offers support. Once more, at the mall, this time near a stairwell. On one side is a food store, the other a lingerie shop. I feel stuck then take the stairs. Later, I go grocery shopping. There are green beans. The parking lot is underground, gray and slanted. I find my way back to sunlight and feel relieved. Yet in another dream I offer a demonstration related to food. A teasing dude drives away with two others.
Last year I confessed to my sixth grade crush. I did not remember my sixth grade crush until I saw a random picture online in 2013. I’m not sure I considered him a crush at the time but later realized he was.
In truth the picture wasn’t exactly random. Basically, I was researching on the public high school I would have attended had my family not moved. At one point I came across a picture of my crush via someone else’s profile. I remembered the feelings he uncovered in me. So I said I liked you. Who knows if I’d like him today! But I felt something for him then and decided to show myself I’m not that girl who forgets herself anymore.
As it turns out, I had two sixth grade crushes. The one I confessed to, and another with totally different looks and personality. The second one I was friendly with; we played sports. With him there could have actually been something. The first sixth grade crush was more like the seventh grade crush in the sense that I couldn’t touch. The only reason I maybe did was because my peer group at the time overlapped with his. But I couldn’t get into it and didn’t know what to make of what he brought up in me. There wasn’t space in my life with basketball and friends. I never told anyone, not even Mom! Although I did kind of have an elementary school crush early on, he was cute but not particular to me. The sixth grade crush was completely different, closer inside (even from a distance) and the first of a specific type. Nonetheless, a completely different boy ended up asking me out in sixth grade. His friend approached me for him. Or maybe his friend approached my friend in the cafeteria at lunch.
This was supposed to be my game; an undying guarantee. Basketball made life worthwhile. I hoped to build my entire life around one sport. Even though the family life and situation wasn’t good, place was this rim and basketball my net. The game let me access and engage something I couldn’t find in other ways. It is hard for me to see myself as a “worthy” person without basketball even over a decade later. It was everything to me but the reason I became so attached was because I needed to be; because I was already unsupported. Losing the game forced me to look inside. Basketball was my identity, my home, my heart—the people and culture defined my location in the world. I was just some kind of clear thing brought to this planet to play that game.
Then guess what happened. The whole spiel worked against me; tore me apart from the inside out and vice versa. I thought I was doing the right thing to prepare for the future and stay safe because Dad put all this pressure on me about sleep-away camp and Grandma Kay about college, etc. As long as I had basketball to take with me everything was supposed to work out. Even though there was more to me than that sport, I couldn’t have anything besides it—I couldn’t have my own feelings, I couldn’t take risks. Basketball and what it came to symbolize protected my forbidden inner world. Whether or not the sport actually was that great, it’s what I brought to the table. “You were just so good,” people tell me even today, which makes me feel worse; that isn’t the point. Everyone became convinced basketball is what’s real and not “me” underneath. I lost my ability to trust or see myself and became dependent instead.