New Metaphors from South Africa: Letter from a Therapist



Dear David and Jo:

This time I don’t take the blame/mourning/anger/loss for cutting feet and starving on me. I know myself, love myself, and grant myself a happy light life which means as well participating in my healing practice. But SS (self-starvation) is still dying even though it still presently manifests in my body. It still wants to turn my life into a tragic mess – steal it away like it manages to do across so many cultures.

This time I only take responsibility for my actions, but I refuse to turn the blame or anger on myself. I know I am OK; I know I have been fighting all my life for my life despite SS and that this resistance movement is my right. I embrace my OK-ness and self-love. I’ll just humour SS (self-starvation) for as long as it insists on sticking around. But I know the more I actively live without harm and starvation, the sooner SS (self-starvation) will die. And TLE (temporal lobe epilepsy)? It’s OK! It’s no excuse anymore for self-destructive behaviour or insanity. I am strong enough to live with it as well as possible.

“Defeat ” is victory now – SS (self-starvation) is showing its last death gurgles (directly translated) in the face of my joyful, empowered participation and wellness – my abathandazi (traditional healer) ways of being. No miracle recovery is required. I can just be who I am and go with what I’ve got. That’s all, and be a “wounded healer”.

I want to choose now to believe in the drip and nourishment; this is part of who I am and where I’m at.





Dear Johanna (aged 33):

It was good to hear your voice this morning and to be able to share your determined choice to break the status epilepticus by adhering to your medical treatment.

What would you say if I called your decision to look to your health a “nonviolent resistance to anorexia”? Could we consider your decision to ignore anorexia’s demands to be a form of political non-cooperation, almost like a boycott? Do you remember how the white shopkeepers used to panic when the black consumers staged a boycott and chose to buy their goods from

alternative outlets? Could we call your decision to “book myself off sick” and postpone your appointments until you are feeling stronger an anti-anorexic boycott against anorexia? Could you share with me how you came to make this decision? Did your decision come to you suddenly, or was it slowly birthed and bathed in the realization that you are entitled to moral justice? That when you are ill you are entitled to choose to rest and recover? Or would you use other words to describe the process of your choosing and decision making?

In an article on resistance movements and theories, the author claimed that nonviolent resisters bring more serious sanctions to bear when they resort to social, economic and political non-cooperation. Could we describe your refusal to co-operate with anorexia and self starvation as a form of non-compliance with anorexia’s unjust prescriptions for your life? Would you agree that even though you are primarily involved in a struggle for your own independence from anorexia, that your efforts also form part of the collective struggle against anorexia’s tyranny, that seizes control over hundreds of thousands of women in contemporary society? Could we therefore consider your choice for rest and recovery as both a personal and political action in the face of anorexia’s violence against you in particular and women in general? Could we further consider it as a professional action of resistance that will serve to preserve your integrity and reputation as a healer? I wonder if you would agree that your decision for rest and recovery constitutes one of the steps on your journey from anorexia and self starvation’s slavery to your freedom from slavery?

I salute some of the the different ways I can quickly recall in which you have recently actively resisted anorexia in non-violent ways:

choosing to receive IV treatment in hospital

choosing to rest and resist anorexia in hospital by accepting medical care

choosing to receive intravenous nutrients

choosing to eat for nutrition

choosing to draw instead of cutting

choosing to phone Dr S,

choosing to adhere to his new prescription

choosing to ignore the dust in the house and to rather focus on your own

recovery first

choosing to move your work assignments on another week


……….would you like to extend the list yourself????????


Victory is yours!

Your forever anti-anorexia

Jo Vijoen (Pretoria, Republic of South Africa).