Friday, 5 December 2008

Denial is not just an Egyptian River!

Yesterday, I drove out to TK Maxx (this is a sort of designer outlet store in the UK wherein you can get famous brands for about 60% less than in the High Street shops) to buy some jeans for myself. I knew they had a sale on and jeans were available for around £7.00 (about $12.00) from the likes of Diesel, Guess and FCUK. I do like my designer jeans, but NOT at designer prices! As it stood, I had only one pair of jeans which fitted me; all the others were my eldest daughter's cast-offs and cut on the 'skinny leg' which is not a flattering look for a 38-year old woman, I don't think.

I purchased all sorts of wrong sizes for myself. Not wholly intentionally - a bra I thought read at 34A, according to the section it was in, was actually a 36B and dropped off my chest when I put it on! But the jeans were intentionally mis-sized. I have dropped to a size 6 (US 2) and don't like to admit to it, verbally. So, I bought size 8s and they hang from me. 

Why have I done this? I simply couldn't bring myself to acknowledge that I am officially a size 6. I was completely in denial that the weight is not coming on; it's coming off. I refuse to believe the girls and Ian when they say they can see my ribs, that my arms are skinny, that my legs are like sticks and that I have no backside. I fob them off - particularly Beth - and joke about it all. It doesn't cut the mustard. I know.

Ian told me yesterday that I was starting to look 'ill'. I don't know if I am or not. I don't seem to look any different, facially, to how I looked a few months ago, complexion-wise. Certainly less spotty, for some odd reason, though.

I have noticed that if I do any leg exercises, while lying on the floor, the skin which sags downwards from my thighs, pulled by gravity, looks like an old lady's. If I bend over the bath, naked, my breasts hang like two thin pieces of veal. Most unattractive - 'withered' as my doctor described them.

Yesterday, whilst out at the shops, my mind wandered and I lost myself thinking about anorexia and what harm it is doing to me. I wracked my brains, repeatedly as to why I continue with this behaviour, why I cannot simply let go of it, why putting on weight fills me with such dread and why the low self-esteem manifested itself in this particular way.

Self-esteem is a big thing for me at the moment. The terrible blushing has disappeared again, thankfully, but there are too many 'labels' and insults flashing around my brain. I wrote this, as part of a letter, two days ago and the more I return to it, the more it hurts me:

Deep down, I guess I am quite a bitter person. I feel selfishly hard-done-to. Little things make me cross – stuff which shouldn’t. I feel angry that nobody bar Maureen has attempted to communicate with me from work. I feel petty anger that, twice, I have told my friends in Oman about my marriage yet received nary a Kiss-My-Ar*e or nothing. I feel cross that I worked so hard at Rowlands and was called a f*cking tw*t when something screwed up, which was a complete accident on my part and ultimately, perhaps similarly to you, I feel as though I have missed out on a healthy parental relationship. As a teenager, I was so bitterly jealous of my girlfriends who got on with their fathers. And as I got into adulthood, I started to become jealous of those women who rang their mothers on a regular basis, went shopping, had fun and laughter, and were not just related, but were friends. I miss having a Mum. I don’t have a Mum – I have a Biological Mother who despises me for me doing my own thing. She despises me because I haven’t followed her every footstep and dictat. And that is a hard lesson to learn and assimilate because I know very well that this is extremely wrong. One doesn’t have children in order to mould them into something you wish you could have been…I don’t know why I was born to be honest – and that isn’t a ‘suicidal’  or self-pitying thought. I just query, in my own head, why? Eight years difference between me and my brother? Times of severe hardship financially? Being told that labour was horrific and not wanted ever again? Being told that if it wasn’t for me, happiness would abound? I genuinely don’t think I was a wanted child…There are many studies performed of babies in the womb and how they pick up on things from the mother. Do I self-destruct because I have never felt as though I should be here? Maybe that sounds histrionic, but it does run through my head from time to time. Why, when under the influence of NLP/hypnotherapy, did I suddenly get a traumatic image of abortion when my timeline was drawn back to the womb? All conjecture, I know. And I apologise for any hyperbole or melodrama. These are simply my meandering thoughts.

My brother moved out of the parental home, at the age of 44, he didn't even tell our parents. Little by little, he just shunted out his few belongings and that was it: never seen or heard of for a long time. My mother was bereft. My father was disgusted. He is a very accomplished carpenter and had crafted a solid mahogany table for Paul for his own home. Paul walked out and left it. Months of hard work and graft, just left. Each Mother's Day, Mother's Birthday, Christmas and Wedding Anniversary which passed, without a card, left my mother more and more depressed. When she was admitted into hospital for a hip replacement, I called my brother at his place of work and asked him what was going on. He refused to speak to me, and refused to visit. My father then decided to cut him out of the family will. Although this never actually came to fruition. When my mother was taken into hospital with pericarditis, in January 2007, Paul finally came to visit as it was life-threatening. I couldn't bear to look at him and was thus harshly berated for my attitude towards my brother. My mother told me that all she wanted was a happy family. Paul made that choice to detach from his parents without any indication of what had sent him over the edge. I know for a fact that my only misdemeanour is to have married Ian, yet I have been damned for the rest of my life by them, in some ways.

My father has been in touch with the girls again. My mother is making it patently clear that she wants nothing to do with them. They couldn't care less and cannot understand why I ask them questions about the contact. I guess I am like a dog with a bone, gnawing away at something which takes an eternity to wear down and splinter. I am glad that my mother's ostracism of the girls doesn't bother them (or doesn't appear to, fundamentally) and I am so glad that they are sensible enough to realise that she has more problems than the four of us put together. So, if two young girls can do that, why can't I? Why don't I adopt that type of detachment?

Beth once asked me if I would ever punish her for doing something I disagreed with like her Nanna did to me. I roared laughing, and firmly said, No! But it's not actually funny, is it? Why did I laugh? Did I find it so utterly ridiculous that she could think I would behave like my mother, or was I laughing because I didn't know what else to do?

Everything in the garden ought to be rosy at the moment. Financial worries have been utterly lifted; the girls are calm, happy, hilarious and amusing; Christmas (one of my favourite times of the year) is almost upon us; the house is warm, inviting, beautifully decorated and furnished and things, on the whole, despite a few blips from time to time, are much better between Ian and me (touch wood! *pats herself on head*!). 

So why do I feel so much unrest and dis-ease? Is it a chemical thing? After being in hospital a week or so ago, I had to come off the anti-depressants (Citalopram). Ian had given them to the orderlies who proceeded to lose them. I then had to reorder a prescription upon my discharge which took a few days, and thus, I was six days without the drugs. It's almost like my body is learning to get used to them again and so, by mid-afternoon, I feel slow, sluggish, laboured, yet agitated in my limbs and nauseated. When I went to bed last night, and after I heard Ian breathing deeply, my buttocks went into overdrive. I jiggled, shook, rattled, battered and felt like screaming out with frustration, anxiety, anger and pain. I could not stop. And it was driving me bananas. I so wanted those muscles to relax, ease off, be still and quiet - and they would not give me a moment. So, I have woken this morning, feeling, once again, like I have trained for a marathon. Why isn't my backside as taut as Kylie's at this rate??!

Does it sound like I miss my parents? Believe it or not, I don't. But I do struggle with confusion, co-dependency and fears. I still fear my parents terribly. There is a lull for me at the moment, but each day, a quick thought will pass through my head, when the postman has been, is this going to be the delivery which contains that letter? That letter of vitriol, condemnation, hurt and recrimination? 

Only time will tell, I guess...


Karen ^..^ said...

I think the reason it is so easy for your girls to detach from your horrible mother and you can't, is that they have you for thier nurturing, and are secure enough in that to not need any of your mother's BS. You did not have that. On some level you are still seeking that. Which is why it is difficult to let go of the bitterness of it all. You are still wishing on some level that they will come to thier senses, and be real parents. Which just goes to show how very ingrained human nature is. We EXPECT certain things, and are disappointed when they don't happen. From birth, we are programmed to crave and need a parental love. When that is denied, we go into overdrive, needing wanting, being envious of those who have that simple basic thing that we don't. It's hard to let go of.

Start with the jealousy first. Then remember how well you really have done in this world without them. take pride in that.

Yes, you have this ED, but that is a by product of your life as a child, and then compounded by your life as an abused wife. YOU STILL PERSEVERED! And still ARE persevering!

You have raised two wonderful girls who don't need their ratty old granny who treats you like such shit. That in and of itself is HUGE. A weak character cannot spawn such offspring. You had everything to do with that, remember that.

Screw your bitch mother. Her problems run deeper than yours ever will, and to wrap your head around the whys and wherefores would be impossible, and would certainly drive you crazy. It would be like looking full on in the face of evil, you know how legend has it that if you do that it will drive you insane? Look away, and don't look back. Be glad you are well shut of them. Don't give them another moment's thought, and if that letter does come in the mail, have a burning ceremony... before you open it. I know how hard that is to do, but I HAVE done it. Because it is the healthy thing for me to do. You want to get healthy. The human spirit does not want to be held down this way, you know that.

I find it interesting that your brother dropped your parents without a word or explanation, yet they gathered him back into the fold, snapping at the loyal one (you) when you had the unmitigated gall to not look at him. Your parents are not only sick, Annie, they are evil. Don't let that evil touch you and yours. Remember what they say, you invite evil into your life, it will ensnare you and try to take over. Don't even let it in.

Do what your brother did. Obviously he had his own experiences that are too difficult for him to face up to, nor confront them with. He knows to do so would do no good. So he walked away without looking back. Good for him, I say. He will have to deal with his own shit when it is time for him to do so. It would be nice if you formed an alliance with him, but it is likely to never happen. He has apparently sustained his own damage from the past. Let them all go. You have a loving family, a loving husband, and damn it, enough inedible, indigestible shit on your plate at the moment. Simplify your life, and just let them go. Concentrate on only one thing at a time. It can be done, I promise you.

Anonymous said...

I would have liked to say something: something that would have made everything better; that would have given you the sort of cherished childhood that all offspring deserve... but I know there are no words like that.

Instead, I shall say that I am thinking of you; hoping for you; being proud of you, for - against the odds - you've not only survived but made a positive impact upon the lives of others.

Take care of yourself,

MelissaS said...

as usual, i agree with karen. i hope you can really take in what she wrote. i've read this over and over and each time i wonder why your doctor told you your breasts were withered. that seems rotten.

your family of four is a great team -- you all support each other and the love is clear. i do think you're having a chemical reaction. going off and on anti-depressants is seriously tough and debilitating. i hope you feel better emotionally soon.

so you got big clothes. now, can you start growing into them? lots of love, annie.

Annie T AKA Agnes Mildew said...

Karen: Your words are always very carefully thought out and make so much sense. Thank you! A burning ceremony would be the right way to go about things - I agree. I did, at one point, resolve to simply return letters to her, unopened...I think that would be more my line. I know that for her to be ignored by me would irritate the hell out of her. And for once, I'd like to get that pleasure (or does that sound vindictive?!).

Paul was always 'the blue-eyed boy' in our family. It didn't come as any surprise that he was welcomed back like The Prodigal Son the moment he showed his face. And then I lost favour instantly, having been the one they both called each night 'for a chat' and a bitch about him. It was due to me discouraging them from cutting him from their wills that it never happened. I wouldn't mind betting that I'm not in them any more, though - haha! And, genuinely, that bothers me not one iota.

Concentrating on one thing at a time is difficult when so much screams at me. I know you are right; it's just applying the control to it...

Jenny: Welcome over. And thank you for your lovely kind words. Someone really ought to invent a magic wand, oughtn't they? Growing into the clothes...well, there's always the hope that I will do this with a happy heart over the next few months. Perhaps it won't be quite as shocking as I am anticipating.

Melissa: I'm glad someone seems to agree that my personality change is likely due to the Citalopram - hateful things. I am half tempted to chuck them down the toilet today, they make me feel so bloody awful.

Growing into the clothes...what a challenge! But yes, the hope is there for me, truly it is.

Mars said...

i agree with karen.

if you do ever get the dreaded letter, don't open it. burn it. or return it - no wait, you'd have to pay postage. ok, just burn it. it'll make good fodder for the logs.

but if you really must know, have someone else read it and let them decide if there's anything worth reading. and then burn it. and flush the ashes down the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Oh this made me so sad Annie, I know what you mean about the old lady skin. Our poor, poor bodies.

Lola xxxx

Bob J said...

It may sound like I am harping on something that is trivial, but the lack of "emotionally attuned responses" from you mother, and from and among your family members is a true emotional tragedy, and one that many of us continue to suffer emotional damage from.

Can we demand that sort of attunement from people ? I don't think we can. Some people just don't seem to have it in them.

I have a young person I am talking with right now, an incest victim. Although she hates her father for what he did to her, another part still longs for familial love from him. I think it's just... a longing and an internal need that sticks with all of us, independant of even the worst of circumstances.

What I told her was that perhaps the answer is that....she just got the wrong father. Just as you got the wrong mother. And that in the end, it's all gets down to a matter of ill fortune.

There is a lot of grieving to be done when we try and bring some resolution to a tragedy like that. To the loss of something so emotionally important. Perhaps you brother has not taken the best route in his own efforts to resolve that loss, but it's a complex thing and nothing that should be expected to be easy.

Everyone has their own ways I suspect, and finding a healthy path toward dealing with such losses can be really difficult, particularly if we don't have many good role models to follow.

In the end, perhaps we will have to be the ones who internally provide ourselves with that love.

A hard thing to do when we are stuck with a legacy of such inner disatisfaction.



Annie T AKA Agnes Mildew said...

Mars: I am too nosey and curious to let somebody else censor any letters addressed to me from my parents - I'd drive them mad with my nagging and fishing, so the only thing to do is return anything, unopened.

Lola: Your comment affected me more than you will know. If there's one thing that breaks my heart it's when someone is experiencing the same. There's no consolation in knowing I am not the only person. Take care x.

Bob: What I told her was that perhaps the answer is that....she just got the wrong father. Just as you got the wrong mother. And that in the end, it's all gets down to a matter of ill fortune.

I really thought long and hard about this statement you wrote. It is very, very astute and very true. And it really is a much better way of attempting to accept things than I have tried out before. There's a lot of 'letting go' which I need to happen. Little by little there are improvements - another 'Anonymous' call yesterday...and Ian asked, later on, if I was dwelling on it. And I could honestly say, No. After talking to him about it, I never gave it another thought. What can I do about them? Absolutely nothing. I don't worry for the girls' sakes as much now, as they are proving themselves very resilient where their grandparents are concerned and almost 'humour' them as a necessary evil.

Onwards and upwards!

But thank you for that insight. That is something I am going to really try to assimilate.

Linda and her Twaddle said...

There are 1001 things that could be said in response to such a moving post.

I am curious, did you resent your brother having the ability to just shut your parents out of his life? Did you think that by really trying to be the good daughter it would put you in good stead? Your parents have a benchmark that can never be satisfied. Stop trying to reach it.

I expect you would be possibly malnutritioned and that does effect your mental well being (not just physical).

Give yourself time, you don't need your parents approval any more. You only need your own. Really, other people's opinions may matter but they are not absolute. Your parents have their own distorted reality. You have to accept that but you don't have agree with it or be a part of it.

As for friends and work collegues that let you down when things get tough, well, that is the sad fact of life. True friends will always be there. Don't have expectations of most people. They have their own dreary lives to lead and get bogged down with life itself just as you do.

You cannot change the past and all those bitter thoughts are just feeding the negativity. You really have to find it in yourself to enjoy what you have right now. Not what you missed out on and not what other people had that you did not. It's just life. It may seem unfair, but what can you do? It is what it is.

I recall being in my mid 30's and really, really going through some hard times in relation to seriously creepy past issues. It was the start of a long relationship with major depression. Seven years on medication and finally, when I got off, I realised that the only way to move on was to change my way of thinking.

It is not easy. And everyone is different. But just plod along. Eventually the sun will shine more and more. Day to day.

Chunks of Reality said...

As you know I used to be anorexic/bulimic in my teen years and now I call myself a "fat anorexic". The sick side of my brain when reading that you are a size 2 (US) feels jealous. I wish to be a size 2. I am a size 18. ugh.

You have gone through so much in your life and continue to persevere. Bravo. I admire you a great deal.

I absolutely agree with Karen's comments. She is always such an insightful lady.

As are you, my dear.