Thursday, 18 September 2008

Part #4

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' 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.


Linda and her Twaddle said...

Very good to read this post. I remember I used to starve myself for days on end. Apple for breakfast, apple for lunch, teeny tub of yoghurt for dinner. My parents NEVER noticed what I did. My dad used to tell me I was fat. He sent my sister to Jenny Craig's when she was 14 years old (she did not need to go, but he thought her size 12 body was too fat). One time my older sister went to hug him and he said "Don't touch me, your revolt me, you're so fat". Fat thighs - oh, I just recall so much. That you are making such an effort to talk it through, to push past that immediate reaction to food intake is so brave. It is good to have someone like Ian. Today I was feeling a bit low and I put a tiny piece of chocolate in my mouth, chewed it and then spat it out. I realised how I used to do that ALL THE TIME years ago. So I then took another little piece and enjoyed it with a cup of tea. Don't want to go back there.

Mars said...

you did look perfectly healthy. if there was any imperfection, its called being big-boned which people cannot change, skinny or not. I have huge shoulders which I inherited from my dad. the most i can do is tome them, but can't change my frame. and avoid clothes that make them look bigger. i have a friend who's very pretty and very skinny, but looks a because she has disproportionately large shoulders.

anyway, as much as i respect elders, i have an urge to slap your mum for saying that.

Agnes Mildew said...

Linda: It's a wee bit of a low day for me too, today. I reckon purely because of what I have written as the sun is shining beautifully, there is an Autumn scent in the air, and all is, really well...But reading your comment was heart-rending. I don't know what Jenny Craig's is, but I guess it is some form of Weight Watchers?
For a father, say that to somebody is wicked. And evil. I am sorry for saying that about your family but I am speaking from what I am reading. I don't know your ins and outs. But that, objectively, is raw evil.
I hope, to God, that reading this blog isn't going to bring back bad thoughts into your head. I hate what you have said about spitting out that chocolate.
I know when I have read ED posts it sets me off.
If it does this to you, please forgive me because this is the last thing I would ever have wanted. X

Mars: Big-boned! Such a commonly used expression in the UK for someone who is a bit overweight - and, please believe me, I am not attacking here! It is such an ironic statement! We do inherit qualities, don't we? My mother impressed upon me time and again that it was 'unfortunate' I had inherited my father's propensity to put on weight, yet my brother took after her and remained thin, despite eating (believe it or not) six noodle sandwiches night after night because he couldn't abide my mother's food!
Crikey, it's all very painful - just even responding to these commments, which are all so very kind, supportive and loving.
I have cried way too much today! So take a look at HexMyEx and see that I do actually have a limited sense of humour!
Bless You...

Linda and her Twaddle said...

Agnes, it does not trigger anything bad (so don't worry) - it reminds me of how far I have come. My dad, he was odd indeed, nasty and mean. I am just really, really hoping that you find a way to manage it all well enough as time goes. Personally, I feel you will - you seem to have the inner strength, determination and support to get on top of it for longer periods of time.

Anonymous said...

I think your new blog is a wonderful idea. Sharing - and thereby shining a light on - your thoughts, your memories and your journey can only be a good thing. It will not only help you to better understand yourself and your own motivations, but it will help others who are on a similar journey. This is at once a brave and smart and good thing, Annie.

Agnes Mildew said...

Linda: That's a relief! And I think your father has been bad to you and your sisters. Very bad. Yes, I will get there - writing it out, although it can cause quite a lot of angst, is helping more than any therapy, I reckon.

Karen: Thanks for coming by and for your kind words. Although writing this out was initially for catharsis, a comment from an anonymous visitor made me realise that it might just help somebody else, too...even if it is just as symptom recognition. That is becoming more of the driving force for me now...

Karen ^..^ said...

Sweetheart, you were a perfectly normal little girl. You had a beautiful delightful face, perfect bone structure, and the soft roundness of youth. You were perfectly beautiful in every single way. A true innocent. your mother, on the other hand, has a black, squishy, horrid, stinking heart of mold, rotting in her skinny bitch chest. I am sorry, I know I shouldn't step out of line to say such things about your mother, it isn't my place really, but I cannot abide such abuse. You were a beautiful little girl!!! Perfect and innocent! She fucked it all up, with her evil nasty abuse. She sowed the seeds for tragic insecurity, and started you on this course of self hatred. Binging and purging are only a means to try and fill up an emotional need, and purging is an attempt to rid yourself of the toxins that make you feel so badly about yourself so often. I wish there were a way for you to do this without such destructive health risks. Your mother was a small sick horrible woman who DID NOT DESERVE A WONDERFUL DAUGHTER LIKE YOU. I despise her, and would love to smack the living shit out of her for what she has done. It is because of her that you married that asshole ANAL. I apologize again. You are a total lady most of the time and almost never use foul language. I, on the other hand, curse like a truck driver most of the time when agitated.

If there is one thing you should always know, is that your picture as a ten year old? That delighted grin on your face? That is YOU.

Your mother is crazy and your ex ass is crazy. You, in spite of all the BS you had to put up with from them, are going to be ok.

You have Ian now, and he sounds like a wonderful man, who really knows how to treat a woman.

Rock on, and enjoy your life. Take care.

Karen ^..^ said...

Oh, and one more thing. It is so obvious what your mother was doing, trying to sabotage your diet. If she would have left you the hell alone, you may not have developed such issues. Telling you that you looked like a sumo wrestler, and then trying to stuff her desserts down your throat when she KNEW you were dieting, made things ultimately worse. May she rot in hell. Ugh.

How do some people get so good at psychological torture? Good God, it boggles my mind how someone could perpetrate such pure evil onto thier own offspring. What a bitch. Just remember: You are safe from her now. You are safe from your assmunch ex husband. You are safe in the arms of a man who loves you, and that small ten year old is now safe in YOUR arms. Because in spit of what has been done to you, you've grown into an extraordinary woman, with two amazing girls of her own, who are doing very well in thier own right. Keep up the good work.

Hbear said...

hey annie...

i just spent the past hour reading all your posts.

my heart goes out to you. more than you could ever know... i struggled with EDs in college, so i can relate to a lot of what you described here. (A LOT).

its entrenching. and engulfing. and i think moreso than anyone else can understand... white fog, i'd never heard that expression before, but it TOTALLY makes sense.

anyway, i just wanted to say hello. and that i hope you have a good day today. and that it can get better :)


Agnes Mildew said...

Hbear: Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. We visited your own site and listened to your music, which was lovely and I do like 'Easy Out'. I wish you great success with your music career.

How many of us suffer with these EDs? Stats in the UK state 1 in 10 women. I couldn't even hazard a guess.

When I was a journalist in the Middle East, I wrote an article for a magazine entitled Dying to be Thin. I interviewed medics, healthcare professionals etc., and they all said the same thing: the Middle East was being 'Westernised' and EDs were on the increase.

There was so much bombardment of the 'ideal woman' on the TV via satellite - something which was relatively new to Oman in the 90s.

It's telling, isn't it?

i*maginate said...

Fish n chips is good, spesh with malt vinegar. Yorkshire pudding, totally love it! Squid is good too, poach it then have it as's light and enjoyable!

Enlightening stories you tell. Reminds me of summer parties at boarding school eating M&S ox tongue, nearest loo accross the field.