Amelia Willoughby: Full

2 min

In these times of isolating and sheltering in place, Amelia Willoughby shares the importance of finding a safe space for body and mind, even if it means leaving.

I eat too much. It's something I do when nervous or afraid, I seek comfort in pain, in shame, in the euphoria of doing something terrible to my body.

In 2015, I met Janice in Chico. She was homeless, and I was experiencing my disordered eating; we were both lonely. She asked for something to eat, “Please, I'm a diabetic.” I bought her lunch; I had a milkshake. We shared our stories and I gave her my number.

In the meantime, I met and fell in love with a man from Oakland and he was so deeply in love with me too, at least, I thought.

Janice kept in touch, once she called, “I got section 8 housing! Come over, everything’s pink!“

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A few months into the relationship, I found out that the man I loved had been cheating on me from the beginning. He lied about everything. He was sorry; he'd go to therapy; he promised to never hurt me again. The next five years was a sad merry-go-round of promises made and broken, fights, break ups and make ups, more lies, more women. In my final year of grad school at USF, I gained 40 pounds, a physical manifestation of my pain visible, heavy.

Through shelter-in-place, I stayed with him, even though we weren't “official.” We argued, and he called me “thoughtless” and “selfish” and that I “took him for granted.” I want to say I saw all of the women he cheated on me with — their names in my mouth — I wanted to say he was the one who was thoughtless, selfish and took me for granted. But I didn't. Instead I heard Janice's voice in the last call she made to me: “You know, I figured out why you eat so much and why I drink so much,” she hiccupped and slurred, “It's hard to feel full when you give everything away.”

I had given everything. While he was at work, I packed my things. We said goodbye — and I left. Alone. Into a world quarantining. I chose myself — complete and full.

With a Perspective, I’m Amelia Willoughby.

Amelia Willoughby has a Master of Fine Arts degree from USF in Creative Writing, and works in healthcare in the South Bay.