Friday, 19 September 2008

Part #5

I was trying very hard not to post today (although itchy fingers and an agitated mind got the better of me) as Ian has also uploaded something and I certainly do NOT want to usurp him. So if you read this post, please also scroll down a little further and take note of his as it is very heart-felt and caused him some agony to write. We discussed it long and hard after he had drafted it last night, and then he completed it this morning. Please do take a look...

I had actually blocked out the night Ian described. I had wiped it from my memory. 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' - it's not just a jolly good film; it's a quote from a poem by Alexander Pope: Eloisa to Abelard.

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!/The world forgetting, by the world forgot./Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!

So many times I have wished for this. A baby is born carte blanche and we, as parents, mould it, shape it, guide it...and we can also punish it, hurt it, condemn it and leave it with a legacy no solicitor would incorporate into a Last Will and Testament. I hope and pray that I am not leaving my beautiful, witty (and sassy!) daughters with a legacy which will lead them to a psychiatrist's couch.

I'm not going to comment much on Ian's post as it is his but to say that this particular night really was horrific. It was like watching some bizarre sacrifice - as he says, 'symbolic'. Watching him smash the scales with such anger, hatred, violence and malevolence was an awful sight. And I didn't condemn him, take out any anger on him - indeed, I actually gave him the permission to do it as I was weary of them, too. It's a horrible thing to see what you are, inadvertently, doing to your loved ones and fills you with an inordinate amount of guilt.

I have noticed the sadness and fear creeping in to my daughters' eyes these days. My oldest, Rosemary, is 13 1/2. She is 'at that age' where awareness of your body really starts to set in. She reads the most dreadful magazines which her father buys her (because, it transpires, he enjoys reading the Problem Pages) and each page bombards the reader with unfeasibly skinny girls...who have simply been PhotoShopped into submission. We cannot ever dream to attain those images of CGI-perfection. But many, many young girls hope to. And I wouldn't mind betting there are a hell of a lot of women, like me, in their 30s and 40s, who wouldn't say no, either.

She, alongside Bethan, has been paying more and more attention to my body than I am happy about - I have actually put a lock on my bedroom door now, for privacy (although I botched it and the rotten door doesn't even shut properly now!) as I don't like to see their eyes as they stare when I dress or undress in front of them. And that is not just due to my own embarrassment - it is because I can almost see behind the eyes and track the thought processes.

A week ago, Bethan needed socks. As I bent over the wash basket to dig a pair out for her (I had been somewhat tardy that day!), she screeched: Oh My God, Mum! 
What? What? I asked, thinking something awful had happened.
You've got bruises all over your back. There's no fat on you.

I knew I was bruising. I can actually feel the tenderness to be honest. It's from bathing, lying on the hard bath, and one particular day, when I had been lying on the floor, crippled with wind from all the laxatives and attempting to 'get rid' (sorry - too much information??!) by curling into the foetal position and then bringing my legs up over my head. I cannot lie very comfortably even in bed now and have to have cushions between my legs at night as my knee bones grate together and hurt.

Rosemary came in at Bethan's expostulations and looked so very sad and desolate. I have had to ask to borrow her jeans just recently. This must have been so ignominious for her - her own flipping mother asking for her clothes. And it makes her feel fat. And she tells me so.

I respond otherwise, and quite vociferously. I tell her repeatedly that she is beautiful, perfect, has a figure to die for...and I am the freak. She is such a lovely girl - she has her moments, just like many teenage daughters - but she is so witty, so quick, so intelligent, and very, very beautiful.

She was very low last night, and I asked her to read my last post - I have to be quite careful about what I can let her read as I cannot taint her opinions of her father. Ian, Rosemary, Bethan and I also watched this YouTube video, which has had me in tears; Rosemary silent; Ian shocked; and Bethan walking away proclaiming she feels ill. (Unfortunately, the HTML keeps corrupting so I can only provide the link)
Rosemary went for a bath after she had seen this. Ian took Bethan to the doctor and I sorted out meals for the evening and for school/work lunches. I came upstairs to sit at Bethan's PC. I'm quite a quiet person around the house and frighten people out of their skins more times than I wish to, and Rosemary didn't realise I was nearby.

I overheard her conversation to her boyfriend - for some odd reason she had him on speakerphone.

Do you think I am fat? But, I mean, like, are my thighs big? Would you like me to be skinnier?

His response was ponderous (he is only 13), but to his credit, I heard him say, It doesn't matter to me. I like you. These things don't matter.

She then stopped the speakerphone and continued to chat to him in the bathroom, still unaware that I had eavesdropped.

Am I leaving a legacy already?


Mars said...

your daughters mashallah are gorgeous. and as for leaving a legacy, most girls ask their significant other those questions. even the prettiest.

they seem to have strong heads on their shoulders and perhaps are stronger than you fear.

and i have to say that so far the men i've met rather liked curves and even told me they prefer curvaceous women over bonier ones. although there was an incident when i was a teenager where i went out with some girlfriends who had some guys along with them. i don't think i was very fat then - i was a size 12 but had a rather square, athletic shape. later my girlfriend told me (rather unkindly) that the guys said 'who brought that sack of potatoes along?' and she laughed and told them they were mean. the laugh itself made me feel rather bad. and yea, i stopped going out with her. but those words never left my brain. 'sack of potatoes'

Karen ^..^ said...

Just a quick comment before I go off to work:
Not one single woman in those magazines looks the way they look:

"My oldest, Rosemary, is 13 1/2. She is 'at that age' where awareness of your body really starts to set in. She reads the most dreadful magazines which her father buys her (because, it transpires, he enjoys reading the Problem Pages) and each page bombards the reader with unfeasibly skinny girls...who have simply been PhotoShopped into submission."

Take a look at this:

and this:

It is disgusting the way our media distorts images, and programs people to beleive that this is an "ideal" image. Holy shit. The only way to stop it is to stop reading it or stop looking at it, or to look at it with the knowledge that these pictures are completely FAKE. I'll comment on the rest of the blog after I've gotten home from work tonight.
*skips off to finish reading*

Karen ^..^ said...

I think you are bringing awareness to your girls, that otherwise they would find out about from outside sources, and that can be more dangerous.

You are beautiful, and your daughters are beautiful. In every way. #2 is a ditto copy of you. Absolutely gorgeous. #1 is breathtaking.

I understand your fears, I have them too. I think any well meaning parent fears that they will somehow slip up and make a psychiatrist a bit richer.

#2 is curious about things right now. My 11 year old is heavier than most kids her age right now, and asks me the same things. Her father's side of the family has always been larger, buxum (yup, even him! ;) and has struggled with weight. She worries too. It doesn't seem to have formed an obsession yet, thank God. She obsesses so easily over so many things, the current obsession is horses. Mars is right, many girls ask the opposite sex what they think of the way they look. It is what they hear, and how they hear it that is so critical.

Thank God he is a sweet boy, and didn't say anything that might form a lasting problem.

And please, if your fingers itch to write, please do. Above all, listen to yourself and recognize the need to purge all of this mentally. This is good. Don't deprive yourself of valuable, healthy catharsis. You are extremely strong for doing this, and I hope it helps you. You won't always need to do this, eventually it will lesson. Please consider publishing this as a book. It would be so incredibly helpful to so many people. Sometimes the best way to help ourselves is to help others. At the very least, it creates favorable Karma. Rock on. I'm proud of you. And your girls will be fine. They have an incredibly good mom. Ok, now I really have to get to work, LOL!

thewishfulwriter said...

You amaze me. Sharing so honestly and openly is incredibly brave and I think that's just one of the many positive legacies you'll leave your girls. Bravery.

Agnes Mildew said...

Mars: Ramadhan Kareem! I didn't realise it was Ramadhan.

Thank you for your comments about Rosemary and Bethan. I feel privileged to have such lovely girls.

Yes. I have also been told by many men that they prefer those with 'meat on their bones'. Who do we believe? The men or the media?

'Sack of potatoes'. God, that brought back some memories...I have been called a 'Sack of Spuds' more times than I care to mention.

People can be so cruel, can't they?

And I do so hope that you are feeling better in yourself today. Physically and mentally...

Karen: Ian has taken a look at these sites, and I shall, too. Thank you.

Your comments are heaving with inspiration and support, so forgive me for not addressing each pertinent point. Both Ian and I are very gratified by your love, tenderness and support.

I wish you so much love and happiness, my dear x

Heather: I cannot thank you enough for promoting the blog on your own - within hours there were over 20 unique visitors referred from The Wishful Writer. You have a lot of influence, lass!

Thank you - as I said to you in my mail to you, I want to reach the female audience (although I am NOT being sexist!) as EDs mainly affect women. If this helps anyone, in any way, I will be chuffed to bits. Mega-chuffed!

Ian, on the back of reading a comment from Karen, is now thinking long and hard about US setting up an ED group therapy meeting. It's something we must look into further, isn't it?

Mars said...

thank you for the festive greeting and Ramadan Kareem to you too. I'd like to believe the men in the end as I will end up spending time with them, not the media.

Linda and her Twaddle said...

Agnes: Having a son presents problems on the other side. I have shown him air brushed photos, I tell him that the girls he sees on television are not representative of what is truth. I talk about pressures on young girls etc. I don't want him going out there in the world thinking girls should look perfect. There was an advert done by Dove months ago that really showed what women have to face from a young age.

In 2005/2006 when I was very thin, I was getting in the shower and my husband said "Linda, you really need to put on weight, you are scaring me,". My son, when he saw me in my bathers, said I looked like a skeleton and told me to eat more. I could not see what they were talking about until 12 months later (and with more weight on) when I watched a video with me in it and was genuinely surprised. Still now, I always ask if I am fat, or ask if I am as fat as some person in the street, or I ask my son or husband to take a photo of me to see just how I look in real life and the photo/video always surprises me as I seem to be okay (but I cannot hold that thought for very long and the cycle continues). Because what I see in the mirror is always so fat and incompetent to me.

Your daughters are beautiful. Your honesty with them is the best thing. If they see your struggle and know you are always trying to get on top of those struggles, then they will always see you as being a strong, determined person.

They will eventually form their own opinion of their father irrespective of what you choose to tell them.

Miss Scarlett said...

You are a BRAVE. DECENT. INTELLIGENT. SENSITIVE woman, wife and mother. The example that you are setting for your girls is honesty, integrity, bravery, and unconditional love.
Im sure they will grow up to be incredibly compassionate, loving, and open-minded young women because of the lessons you and your husband are teaching them.

Agnes Mildew said...

Linda: I've never thought of it all from a young boy's side and what subconscious standards lads these days are forming in their heads for prospective girlfriends. I think it's commendable that you have the foresight to do this.

And yes, the mirror is unforgiving, isn't it? I often avert my eyes near ours - and we seem to have an awful lot of them in this house!

Ian showed me some photos of our honeymoon not so long ago - it was the first time I had worn a bikini since I was 23. He was dreading me stating how 'fat' I was. But, do you know, I didn't look too bad.
It's going to be a long walk, but I will get back there.

Miss Scarlett: Thank you for your visit and for taking the time to comment - and leave such lovely compliments. I am most grateful to you.
And yes, hopefully I won't totally wreck the girls' heads with this. As long as I keep talking to them, I do find that helps to a degree.

i*maginate said...

mars is lovely ... through her words, she's helped me through tought times.

Scarlett is wise and wonderful too - I love her words in this last comment.

In fact I love women who support women...and through keeping this blog, bring light to others' lives! What an inspiration!