Thursday, 9 October 2008

Part #19

In my days of reading self-help books to fight the ED (and I must have read pretty much every single one now!) I came across a quote from a psychiatrist who believes one never recovers from an ED, one simply comes to 'an understanding' around food.

I actually think this can be the case for some people in recovery. In 'normal' times, when I am not abusing my body with anything but nicotine, although I will eat, I still think about every mouthful which goes inside me. There's almost a whirring of cogs going off if I am having a meal at a restaurant, mentally calculating fat contents, calories, sacrifices to be made next day. If I have a meal which is made with, say, a cheese-based sauce, I know I have to have salads for a few days afterwards. I rarely allow myself a pudding, but will dip into other people's at their invitation. I haven't actually derived much gastronomic pleasure in 'normal' times, but at least I have been at a healthy weight and looked well.

About 18 months ago, I gave up red and white meat. Not for ethical reasons - for dietary ones - and chose to eat fish and seafood. I have always enjoyed anything which 'swims or sticks to rocks', so the decision was not a hard one! Since Christmas, whenever the girls are staying with us for the weekend, we have started a tradition of having Sunday Roast together. This entails a hell of a lot of work, admittedly, but it's worth it for us all to sit and enjoy our time together, discussing our week gone and week to come. I have attempted the chicken on a couple of occasions and end up feeling ghastly afterwards. My digestive system just cannot cope with that type of meat any more. 

Ironically, I love to bake and cook. I will bake for hours on end making all sorts of sumptuous delights for the girls and Ian. And I DO derive great pleasure from seeing others enjoy their a slightly wistful way.

I find myself checking out the shapes of other women in the street, particularly if they are with a man, and feeling envious that they look so comfortable with their bodies. Curves on a woman are still beautiful in my opinion. I don't think I look attractive, but this ED isn't about my looks; it's more about my self-loathing and punishment. I often can feel rather jealous if I see women tucking into chocolates, crisps, 'fatty foods' - I have never felt sanctimonious about my 'control' (or lack thereof) and seen myself as superior because I am 'thin'. Never. I am just jealous of them and how they are able to go from day to day without batting an eyelid about what they eat.

Both our girls have beautiful bodies. Rosemary has a figure like Catherine Zeta Jones and as Beth pads out, I imagine she will be very similar. Rosemary will often talk to me about my ED and I am always open with her - the more she understands, the less likely she is to follow my pattern, I hope. She has girlfriends who have had anorexia and thinks it's sad. Knowing what it does to a person, first-hand, I think is giving her knowledge, and knowledge is power. She has laughed with me and said, I don't think I could ever be anorexic, Mum - I love my food too much! And I hug her, kiss her and tell her that's the best thing I could ever hear.

She's a very grounded girl, these days - especially now that she is back living with me and Ian. She craved a normal family life and it took her a while to realise that she had it, hence a few lairy moments over the last 10 months. Since returning to High School after summer break, she has become a different person in some ways. She and Ian get on marvellously, which warms my heart - sometimes, step-relationships can take a turn for the worse, can't they?

She's going to France on Sunday with her school and I had to sign a permission slip a few weeks ago to allow her to sample frogs' legs and snails. I was quite shocked that I had to sign this! When she saw that I had agreed, she showed mock indignation that I could subject her to it. But I explained that the choice was hers - she could choose to refuse if she so wished. She suspects she is going to be brave enough to sample the frogs' legs, but probably not the snails. I told her they were the best bit. I had snails years ago in South Africa. They were out of this world! Although they didn't stay down...

Ian and I have some weird and wonderful conversations at times. Last week, on the way back from the counsellor, we stopped for a drink at the pub and he asked me, if food had no calories, fat content, health connotations, what would your meal be? I was allowed three choices of starter, main and pudding. I chose the following, which made him blanch somewhat:

Oysters Kilpatrick
Garlic Snails
Eland on brown bread toast

Barbequed baby octopus on a fresh orange and green leaf salad (something I sampled on a daily basis in Surfer's Paradise, in Queensland)
Lobster Thermidore
Seafood risotto, heaving with lobster and squid

Cheesecake: blackcurrant; and Baileys (this counts as two choices!)
The cheeseboard with loads of pongy blue, strong cheeses, Camembert, Brie, Double Gloucester, the white crumblies such as Lancashire, Cheshire or Caerphilly and lots of Digestive or Hovis biscuits. No puffy water biscuits, thank you!

He, in turn, gave me his. Which involved fillet steak. So that night, I cooked it for him. I'd bought a fantastic chunk of prime fillet from our local butcher rather than the supermarket and it was lovely. And he told me it was the best steak he had ever had in his life, which is praise indeed from Ian where his steaks are concerned!

I know that Ian wants his curvaceous Annie back. He has become wary of complimenting me at times in case he puts the idea into my head that he prefers me like this. I know he isn't that shallow. I know that Ian never puts any hold on what people look like; he's only interested in what's inside their heads and hearts, so there is never any pressure from him to conform to some 'Glossy' ideal. One of my friend's daughters has been under inordinate pressure from her boyfriend to be thin. He has eaten away at her self-confidence and thus she has eaten away at her heart. She developed anorexia, much to Alison's dismay and sadness.

What don't ED sufferers understand about food? Why don't we shake off the low self-esteem issues? Why do we punish ourselves by denying ourselves something which is vital? And it is a denial. Drug and alcohol abuses are not denials of vital things. Yes, they can ruin vital things, but they are a partaking of something extra. Bulimia and Anorexia stop your enjoyment of something wholly normal and wholly necessary for survival. And it sucks.

So, I do hope that an understanding is reached at some point for me. And a true one - not a wishy-washy, I-Must-Count-Every-Calorie-Which-Goes-Inside-My-Body understanding. If I have rambled, I apologise. It always helps to get my confusing thoughts down, though...


Mars said...

your dream meal doesn't make me feel hungry really - makes my stomach squirm - except for dessert. but then, i'm not much a seafood person - fish yes, everything else no.

i am like rosemary - i love food too much - unfortunately, i go on the opposite extreme side and tend to binge without the purge. and i regret the extra pounds of lard that pile up and have to start all over again. perhaps lipo, if i could ever afford it. not to be thin, just to be a healthy weight.

i do crave steak now....

Karen ^..^ said...

See, now I think just the fact that you have written this, means you have progressed by leaps and bounds. Just try one thing. Look in the mirror and say this 10 times, and REALLY mean it:

"I am worthy of enjoying delicious foods which will nourish my body, make me healthy, and in turn, nourish my mind. I am worth it."

If you say it, you will learn to beleive it. Did you know that it takes only two weeks to make or break a habit? Try that for two weeks.

Sometimes the affirmations are not a load of bunk. Sometimes it is a matter of saying positive things, over and over, like a study habit, to make it click in your mind. Even if it clicks in your subconscious.

All of those foods you described, sound heavenly. I am hungry right now, so I'm LOVING your list. I love snails, especially french escargot, and baby octopus, Mmmmmm...

Your list is heaven to me. I concur. I also concur with Ian's list. LOL.

Mmmmmmmm.... Filet Mignon... Steak au poivre... Yummy.

I need to find something to eat now. I haven't eaten properly since this move started.

Linda and her Twaddle said...

Body issues - I would love to have none as such. I have the hourglass figure even when I am thin. I hate it - I wiggle when I walk. It is some deep rooted anti-sexual thing. I think that is why I also dress in boyish clothes - keep the body asexual or something. I am much better with it all these days - but I cannot look at my body without feeling disgust. I accept that type of internal response is unlikely to change. I just eat healthy, calorie and fat controlled food and exercise - that way I don't feel guilt.

A lot of what you said in this post could well have come out of my head. "whirring of cogs going off" calculating fat and calories. I do that ALL the time. But I cannot eat junk food, fatty food, meat etc - so the temptation has been removed from me at least. If I ate a piece of cheesecake I would vomit and then be in bed for 24 hours. My gut, lack of bile production and whole digestive system is too sensitive for that now.

Not that I mind as it allows me to fuss over and control my food intake in a justifiable manner. And I need to be able to control things like food, exercise, work, home etc otherwise I am very unsettled.

It is vital that your daughters are able to speak to you about your ED. They can see your struggle with it and learn not to go down the same track. Apart from that, they have a nice home life so that is one obstacle they will never have to overcome.

I have just blabbed on and on in this comment.

Snails are just an excuse for a adult to eat snot.

may_be said...

with the exception of your entree (not so much a snail and slimy things fan)your meal sounds AMAZING. Luckily I live nearish to Surfers :D but as a semi-local I know even better places to go up the coast rather than down :D

I think I have to agree with your daughter, I love food too much! Again though, what is it with brains that can do that to people? Particularly with something we all need!?

Chunks of Reality said...

Back when I was 17 I had a doctor tell me that my anorexic/bulimic tendencies will never go away and that is something I will deal with for the rest of my life.

He was right. The funny thing is that I'm now a fat ED'er. You must wonder how that can be. I am going to blog about it this weekend, I hope. I've been quiet about it for far too long.

Miss Scarlett said...

It IS lovely that Ian and the girls get along so well. Rarely does that happen as it is hard to love someone else's children like your own (and likewise hard to love someone else's parent like your own)

that is certainly a blessing to count


Lexy. said...

When you put it like this perhaps you're right, I have an "understanding" around food. I'm still conscious of what I do and don't eat.

I try not to be, I fight instincts, but I do eat far healthier now than I used to. It's just hard figuring out which thoughts are normal, and which are disordered, so I just try to focus on doing the right thing. It's all I can do.

Guilt is the hardest, it's the one I fight daily and can't seem to come to a complete understanding with. Not over the things I 'should' feel guilty about, but just about anything and everything that has to do with food.

BTW, go figure, but I lose more weight eating (and doing absolutely fucking nothing other than watching tv and changing nappies) than I ever did with my ED and exercise bulimia combined.

Annie T AKA Agnes Mildew said...

Mars: I'm glad that you don't feel you could ever go over to 'the dark side' (haha!). It's all about moderation - which is what I tell Rosemary and Beth. Just wish it would sink into my thick skull!

Karen: Positive affirmations ARE the way forward - I have tried these before. Does this make any sense...I ALWAYS feel deeply embarrassed saying them, even in my head. I get all squirmy and uncomfortable and end up walking away in disgust. My counsellor is going to have her work cut out with me!

Linda: There was a time after one bout of bulimia wherein a developed dreadful reactions to wheat products and had to go onto a very strict diet, checking ingredients and ensuring there was no wheat or gluten involved. It gave me the finicky excuses I needed to prat about my meals so I know what you are saying. I stayed off wheat for about 18 months (only having the occasional 'wheat cheat' when my stomach would explode like Alien). My digestive system is getting more and more delicate these days. All sorts of things are making me feel genuinely nauseous. I will just have to go easy.

Snails! I could quite easily tell Rosemary about your description. She's never got her finger out of her bloody nostrils! She looks like a bowling ball half the time...

May_be: I am now officially jealous of you! I wish I lived down there! There's a little cafe opposite Ripley's Museum which did the octopus. Let me know if it still does!

Yes, our brains can go awry and make us do all sorts of daft things, can't they? It only takes one short circuit and in that lottery we could end up with schizophrenia, OCD, Paranoia...the list is endless. Pity there wasn't a neural soldering iron for an instant fix!

Chunks: I have a sneaking suspicion that your doctor is probably right. It is a matter of coping with those thoughts and handling day-to-day eating. I'll look forward to your weekend post with interest. I'd like to read your story. Thanks!

Miss Scarlett: I said almost as much to Ian yesterday. I think the dynamics in this house are excellent and I am very, very grateful that he has been accepted so warmly and vice versa. We are very lucky in that aspect.

Lexy: I understand exactly what you mean about 'guilt'. It is an awful weight to carry round in your head. But I also believe that guilt is a projection from our own beliefs that we are not worthy due to how we have matured as adults. I have been made to feel guilty about so much in my life - even down to who I marry and it just keeps crossing over. So, those bridges need to be broken down.

MelissaS said...

I used to love to feed others. cook and bake and watch everyone else enjoy everything i wished i could have (i was having diet coke). i dreamt that some day, i could eat those foods.

what would happen if you stopped cooking and baking and making everyone's favorites while wistfully watching them eat? do you feel resistance when you read this?

somehow, my gut tells me this plays into your illness, as well as the control issues of every anorexic. "i don't have to eat", i'd proudly (and wistfully) proclaim. and i meant it.

Annie T AKA Agnes Mildew said...

Melissa: I've read about this tendency in ED-ers to cook for others. I had no idea it was such a common thing until I started delving more. No, I didn't feel 'resistance' reading what you said, per sé, it's just that there's a real 'us and them' mentality in this house where food is concerned. The girls won't touch anything that I like to eat (fish etc) and wallop down the red meat like cows were becoming extinct! My digestive system simply cannot handle anything as rich as lasagne, spag bol etc any more, so I make these meals and stick to my light bites...Oh, I'm just not making sense here, am I?!
You're right, though, it is part of the control thing. Not being sanctimonious; but almost like a test of your own control and power.