Did any of you catch the PBS documentary about Karen and Richard Carpenter that aired on Saturday night? It was interesting listening to Richard's perspective on the years he and Karen were on top of the world. And when Karen sang, I belted out my own disparately off-key rendition of Rainy Days and Mondays, We've Only Just Begun and Close to You. I was immediately 12, back in Hawaii where the radio was my virtual prison escape.
When the show was over, I was melancholy. Even a few hours later, as Karen's voice lingered in my mind it carried a pensive sensitivity. I was feeling oppressed but I'm not sure if it was my own pain or hers.
Although my affliction wasn't anorexia, I know what it's like to put on a smile and play the "normal" game. Despite creaking bones, lack of oxygen and another me that screamed no, I donned my affable costume, complete with a perma-smile mask and, I did the social thing. But I was a terrible player and had to budget my time wisely so I could get back home and remove the shackles before they rendered me a heap of dry bones.
Looking into Karen's eyes, I could see pain. I think she was doing the same thing--playing the social game for the public, wearing a painted smile while colossal agony festered behind the amiable wall. A visceral torment that had no foreseeable end or remedy. Unless you've experience it, you can't fathom its enormity and the crushing, suffocating grip it has on you.
I wonder if Karen had anyone to confide in. Someone to listen to her anguish and her deep, unrequited need. I wish she would have survived her anorexia nervosa. I wish science would have known then what it knows now about eating disorders.
It's good for me to have a reminder every now and then of yesterday and its assorted difficulties. It provides a clarity that boosts my gratitude.