Thursday, 18 September 2008
All sorts of thoughts have circulated around my head since I wrote my post yesterday and then Ian uploaded his version of events.
We seem to have done nothing but talk about the anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, and my history for many months now, but even more so since starting Annie's Rexia. Obviously, the name is a play on words, but Ann is actually my middle name and my father (when he was in a good mood with me) and now Ian have called me Annie. It is a name I infinitely prefer to my real one.
Linda stated in one of her comments that from reading my post, things had been brought up for her which were 'semi-forgotten'. The same is happening to me. It's akin to a runaway train now. So much is flooding back into my head and at the moment, it is having the effect of wrecking my sleep even more than the nightmares to which I seem to be succumbing.
Random memories which sprang up yesterday:
* Children at school telling me I had the fattest thighs in the year (I was actually simply the tallest) and I was 'common' because my mother shopped at jumble sales (OK, she did, but it was purely because my father wasn't earning a vast salary despite his chemical engineering qualifications).
* Buying The Clothes Show magazine and discovering a diet I thought would help me lose some weight after 'The Fat Cows' comment in the pub and my mother poking me, what seemed like every night as I sat down to eat, telling me I had arms and shoulders like an 'All-In Wrestler' (whatever one of those is). When I told her I was commencing this diet, she denegrated it immediately and initially refused to attempt any of the recipes (I still lived at home then, but worked full-time and my mother always wanted to cook for the family as she didn't go out to work).
When I explained that I was more than happy to make my own meals, she put her foot down and refused the offer - I don't think she wanted another woman usurping her in her own home. But from Day One of the diet, as soon as I had finished my salad/chicken breast/fish steak - whatever - an enormous plate of apple pie and custard/chocolate cake/lemon meringue pie (all home-made, and she was a very good baker) would be plonked in front of me. I refused each and every one with the same words, every time: I am on a diet and I need to lose weight.
She hated this. Hated it so much and would give me all sorts of abuse and guilt-trips - I didn't appreciate the hard work she was going to; I was going 'round the bend'; I was 'obsessed'...it never ceased, but I didn't give in to her that time...
* The first time I was caught out without a toilet to vanish to and purge the food from within. The ex and I were fairly active members of our local church, although the ex, I suspect, being an ardent Atheist, went purely to ingratiate himself with the farmers in order to shoot on their land. I went because I thought the village community were wonderful - and indeed, they were kindness itself to me, being the youngest, newest member and wanting to help out with fund-raisers, readings, visiting people etc.
We had a charity 'Beetle Drive' one night. This is a very quintessentially English game. A little like 'Bingo' but you roll a die in order to get a number which equates to a part of a beetle! And then there was the Fish 'n' Chips supper afterwards. I had resolved not to touch it as I knew what would happen. But the kind folk of Walton wouldn't have it and sat me down in front of an enormous bag of fish and chips which filled me with the type of terror which should only be reserved for watching Vampire movies. How ridiculous?
The food had been cooked in beef dripping (a very Yorkshire 'thing'), which revolts me anyway, but I was cajoled and fussed over and ate as much as I could, washed down with as much coffee and water as my stomach could allow.
Although we only lived about two miles away, it was down a very dark country lane and cars used it like an Autobahn. There was no way I was going to negotiate that journey, on foot, in the dark and alone - and, as I have stated, there were, unusually, no toilets in the Village Hall. This hall was located right on the periphery of the village, pretty much in a farmer's field. So, when the coast was clear, I made noises that I needed to go outside for a cigarette and staked out my safest position. The field had just been ploughed, it was muddy due to all the bad weather we'd had, and I stumbled repeatedly, falling down in the dirt in order to get to where I could conceal myself as best as possible.
I then brought up that fish and chip supper, and suddenly realised that I had no way of cleaning myself up. If there were no toilets, there was no hand basin, was there? I was utterly mortified. I was covered in fatty, fishy vomit (and I apologise if this turns your own stomachs), my nose was streaming and all I could use to give myself some semblance of a wash and brush up was to use the grass.
Oh God! It was horrible. I felt so bloody ashamed, dirty, smelly and revolting. I could hardly look the villagers in the eyes upon my return. Even though I had paid for my ticket (and thus my food), it all seemed so horribly wrong to do this to such kind, wonderful people. My ex didn't even realise I had left the hall, but did remark later at how muddy I had suddenly become.
(Caveat: This story has brought back yet another memory - not so much a bad one, though. Many years later, when I lived in Muscat and the bulimia had returned, I got so desperate one day that I called the UK Samaritans helpline - not that I was suicidal, but that I needed someone to talk to. A lady and I chatted for some time. She was so kind and helpful and I asked which branch I had come through to. She told me a place in Yorkshire, to which I replied that I had once lived near Wetherby, close to a village called Walton. She gasped audibly, and suddenly, I said to her: I know you, don't I?
And I did: Audrey. She had donated a heap of flowers from her own garden to fill the church on my wedding day as I couldn't afford the florists' prices. Purely to be kind.
Ironically, I got married to that bastard, Anal, 15 years ago today...)
Embarrassment is one of the major side-effects of an eating disorder. To purge - either by using laxatives, enforced vomiting or diuretics (which I have never used, I must admit) - is abnormal, and wholly against Nature. It's a shameful act and one which never ceases to leave me revolted. Whether it has been desperation to empty my bowels, or desperation to empty my stomach. I always feel the same self-hatred, loathing, lack of cleanliness, self-worth and dreadful, dreadful guilt. The same words come back to me, time and again: Think of the Starving Children in Africa - something my mother would say to me over and over if I didn't want to eat mushy peas or her dreadful, tough-as-old-boots pork chops which she would have fried to within an inch of their lives. (She might have been a good baker, but her cooking wasn't exceptional...)
Last night, Ian made me a squid soup. I love seafood and fish - I have classed myself 'pescetarian' for about 18 months now - to eat red or white meat actually makes me quite ill as I am so used to the more easily digestible qualities of those things which 'swim or stick to rocks'! It was a beautiful meal and he assured me over and over again that there was no fat in it at all. And I know that to be true. But as soon as that bowl of soup hit my stomach, my bowels started growling, my agitation increased and my mind went into white mist.
Ian has asked me many times to tell him when I am feeling like this, but cf. the paragraph about 'Embarrassment' above, it isn't something you go to someone and say, "Hey! I just feel like cleaning out the whole of the fridge, eating every single slice of bread in the house and then puking it up. Just 'cos I feel like shit.' (And I am sorry for using bad language - I abhor it in my own writing, to be honest, but sometimes, profanities are the only ways of getting your point across.)
But, do you know, I was so proud of myself - even though he got in there slightly before me - for the first time, I was going to tell him. I wrestled with the conversation in my head - we were watching a film, one which I had asked him to order for me: A Chorus of Disapproval (any irony there, eh?!) - and it went like this:
Tell him. He's asked you to tell him. But it's disgusting. How can anyone understand that you want to pig out and then puke up? But you've been 'good'. You've not eaten at all, all day. This is the first 'binge' you have had for a while, really. All you do is starve yourself. It's not as if you are wasting money. Tell him. He wants to know. What do I say? How do I broach this? How can I explain this overwhelming urge? Will he try to stop me? Is there any way I could actually do this without him realising...
He sensed the agitation in me, asked if I was OK, paused the film, and we talked. We talked about how much I had wanted to tell him and truly was going to if I could find the right words and then he let me, despite, I know, not wanting it, to get on with what I had to do.
Upon my return, he asked if all my hunger pangs had now abated - this was after visiting the bathroom - and I was honestly able to say, Yes. I am fine now. And later, I treated myself to two Weetabix with 1% fat milk. And we laughed uproariously about a Book of Spells which was given to me by a friend, years ago, and which I have since given to my eldest, Rosemary.
Ian is a bit of a hippy in some ways, whereas I 'Don't Believe In That Claptrap'. But he read me a spell to 'dispel' your past. Take a walk to a favourite place (mine would be the path down at the River Weaver) in your old shoes. Draw a line with chalk across your path, remove your shoes and jump across it. On the other side of the line, wear your new shoes and walk back.
I listened to this one intently, said it sounded feasible, and then remarked that I didn't have any new shoes. Ian smirked at me, and snorted, Yep, all you heard there was, Blah, blah, blah, New Shoes, blah, blah, blah.
I have never had Weetabix come out of my nose before...!
From a conversation today, Ian is going to upload 'Support' posts, which will intersperse my rants and ravings. I think this is a very healthy balance. He also needs to get his own feelings down. He is my soul-mate and, ultimately my best friend. And I feel very lucky and privileged to have him back, as this person, in my life. And it will get better...
But as an ending, this is the picture of me, aged ten, where my Mother labelled me a Sumo Wrestler.
Looking through some old photos yesterday, which I had surreptitiously swiped from the ex's house one night, I found this.