Saturday, 23 October 2010

Last Post

Yesterday was a good day. Estimated intake for the day - who knows? Way too high. Probably close to 1800.

But I worked really hard at the office and got a lot done. And when I came home I ate dinner with my husband, and I had a second helping, and we went upstairs and he read to me, and we made love, and we wrestled on the bed, and we laughed and laughed, and watched some TV and drank hot chocolate with a scoop of ice cream in.

And I went to bed feeling happy and loved and at peace.

I want that feeling. I want that more than I want to be little and perfect. Suddenly it seems ridiculous to me that I've spent so long trying *so hard* to be what I felt like other people wanted me to be, and now I'm with someone who tells me, "Don't 'be' anything. Just be. Be as you are. I love you like this", and yet I'm still *trying*.

There has to be more to life than this constant striving and longing and chasing, after what? Something ill-defined and elusive, constantly just out of reach.

I don't want to waste my life on this. I don't want to be forever 'almost there'. I don't want to get to the end of my life and realise that my big achievement is to have gotten really skinny. I want to do something that counts, I want to my worth to be measured by something more consistent than the numbers on the scale. I don't want life to pass me by while I'm busy measuring out my food and adding up calories. I don't want this selfishness. I don't want to hurt the people I love. I want more than this.

Today I asked A to change my password to something he won't remember. I will miss reading your blogs, and I'm sorry for letting you down. Thank you for all your support over the last months and years.

Mindy, I will be thinking of you particularly over the next weeks and months as you start inpatient. I wish you and P every happiness together.

I hope you all find this thing we've been looking for. Be nice to yourselves :)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Date night... with Michelle Pfeiffer ;)

Again, thank you for the encouraging comments on my last post - you guys are great :)

So, Wednesday is normally date night in our house. We don't manage it every single week, but we try and set that night aside just to hang out together, at home or out somewhere. Probably it's my favourite part of the week :)

Anyway last night A and I stayed in and watched "I could never be your woman" with Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd on DVD, which neither of us had seen before. Now, how they managed to persuade such an incredible cast (cameos from Paul Mitchell and Wallace Shawn, among others) to appear in such a dire movie is beyond me, but that's not the point.

Well, I'm fairly straight, but I do like a movie with a gorgeous female lead, and Michelle happens to be one of my favourites. If I look half as good as her when I'm 48 or whatever, I'll be a happy woman. But that's by the by. This movie was - totally unexpectedly - probably the most triggering thing I've seen all year. Not only is she about 10lbs smaller than her normal tiny self, which reduces her thighs to approximately the size of my arms, but the whole movie is *full* of references to counting calories, and being little. From a scene where Michelle's character makes her discouraged daughter instantly relate to her math homework by turning the problem into "...and then you eat a 60 calorie plum, and in total you've eaten 140 calories, how many calories were in each cookie?"to a mother-daughter shopping trip in which the little girl bursts into tears at being "fat and not pretty", to the same girl's cute parody of Alanis Morissette's 'Ironic' with the chorus

"it's insane
that they lose so much weight
it's young to cope with no food on her plate
it's a fallacy barfing up a cake
they think they're so cute, stick figures

honestly, not even a "normal" person would be able to watch it without thinking about eating disorders all the way through.

(Tenuously connected sidenote: this movie could also feature in a "how to make sure your daughter grows up anorexic" guidebook; from that perspective it's kind of perverse. Speaking of which, did any UK readers come across this article in the Mail the other day? For you highbrow readers, it was also in the Telegraph, but without the obnoxious "it would be preferable for my 8-year-old daughter to develop anorexia than for her to become fat; with anorexia you just pop into therapy and get better, but obesity haunts you forever" quote. I want to find that woman and take her to an ED ward in a hospital. And then take her poor child away from her.)

Anyway, back to the movie... even A, who I think tries really hard not to make triggering statements about other women's bodies, couldn't help but mention how skinny Michelle Pfeiffer was. He said "she's like a stick!". We narrowly avoided an argument when I pointed out that she's probably the same size as his ex, but he said "Charlotte was too thin; I thought it was kind of gross". Well, I didn't know what to make of that; the biggest girl (as far as I'm aware; this is purely based on facebook photo stalking...) whom he's dated / fooled around with / had a crush on couldn't have been any bigger than a UK 8 (think that's a US 4?), and is now a topless model in Australia. So I've always assumed that his beautiful ideal was just very very tiny and physically perfect. I'm a UK 10 (US 6). And he does tell me all the time that he loves my body, that women should have curves and breasts and a bum, but secretly I've always thought that he tolerates my body because he loves me. Now I don't know what to make of anything anymore.

So, I'd really wanted to post some Michelle thinspo for you all, but A was a little upset by that, and I'm trying really hard not to make things more stressful for him right now, so you might have to google it yourself. There's a lot of it out there though :)

On a more somber note, it did scare me a little. Now that I'm starting to think about giving this up, I'm realizing that triggers are everywhere, whether you look for them or not, even when you're consciously trying not to look for them. And I wonder if, years down the line, when I haven't thought about ana for ages, and I'm not counting calories, and I've found some kind of healthy balance for all this, there'll suddenly be situations or people or comments that set me right back to where I am now.

When I was in recovery last year, there were times that I honestly felt like I was getting stronger, really leaving this behind for good. But now I see that, psychologically at least, I'm in the same place I've been for the last couple years. And I wonder if you ever really leave, even if you really, really want to. I wonder if this thing ever doesn't have a hold on your mind. If it ever stops controlling your thoughts.

I know it's not very fashionable these days to believe in things like demon possession, and I feel so foolish even broaching this, but does anyone else ever feel like there's, kind of... something else, living inside her? I insist so strongly to A that I don't have one of "those" stigmatized illnesses where you hear things that aren't there... but does anyone else ever wonder where these thoughts and compulsions come from, who's telling them to be like this, who insists that she comes here every day, who tells her she can't eat? Does anyone else ever wonder when this stopped being about control and started being about *being* controlled? Is anyone else a little frightened by how much power this thing has over her?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Life and happiness

I wanted to blog today because I'm quite conscious I have a tendency only to blog when I'm feeling unhappy, and sometimes I wonder if that's kind of conducive to an unhealthy focus on negative feelings.

Today the sun is shining :) The leaves have started changing colour, the air is crisp when I go jogging. I've spent the last few days stripping the wallpaper in our room ready for repainting. My whole body hurts - I always lived in rented houses growing up so never had the chance to redecorate and underestimated the amount of physical hard work that goes into it! Especially as we don't have all the right tools so are having to 'make do and mend' as we like to say in the UK :) But it's almost ready for painting and I'm excited. I love making things pretty!

I got some new glasses yesterday! I've only worn contacts for the last 6 years or so, so it's a big change for me. They make me look about 8lb thinner :) I know that's only the curve of the lenses distorting things, and that no-one else sees it, but it's kind of a nice feeling anyway. We don't have a scales at the moment; I never did end up buying one after I'd written about the in-laws' one being broken, so not sure where I am. Last time I know was accurate was 121 at my parents' house about a week and a half ago.

A and I have been talking recently about this blog, and about eating disorders as a whole. At times like this, when I feel loved and content, and have a fun project to occupy my mind and give me a sense of achievement, I think about asking him to change my password so I can't post on here anymore. I don't want to delete the blog, but I think it would be better for our relationship if I wasn't writing, or at least wasn't writing about eating and not eating.

I haven't had much appetite the last couple days so my portions have been small. I wouldn't really call it restricting; I'm sure I go over 1,000 many days. But weirdly, sometimes I'm ok with that. And that feels nice. Other times I'm so angry with myself for my lenity and look for something to punish myself with so I'll know better next time.

It's not that I'm trying not to be anorexic and can't do it. I'm *not* anorexic. My BMI is about 19 and all my bodily functions are 'normal'.

Nor am I trying to *be* anorexic. I don't think it even is something you can try to be; you either are or you aren't. At most maybe I'm EDNOS, though I'm skeptical as to whether that's even a thing.

The thing that I'm struggling with is the finality of putting it behind me and saying "I'm not going to resort to this again." Of promising myself "However difficult things get, even if it feels like everything's spiralled out of control, even if I completely lose my grip on reality, I WILL NEVER AGAIN STARVE MYSELF TO MAKE IT BETTER." It's too big of a promise to make! I just don't want to lose that nice, safe, familiar option. Just the thought of giving it up forever makes me feel as if I'm losing control and need to stop eating.

It's difficult for A. The other day I told him I'd make him pancakes for breakfast. Well I don't know if it was our new pan, or the wrong heat, or I got distracted and mis-measured the ingredients, but they all stuck to the pan and I had to throw them away. I was visibly upset. At times like that I feel like I'm outside my body. I watched myself lash out at him, fret that he hated me, that he wished he'd married someone else who was perfect, who made perfect pancakes. He came and gave me a hug, told me that he's not perfect either, that I don't need to be perfect, that he loves me for wanting to make him pancakes. Then he helped me fix eggs and toast for breakfast, but I explained to him I couldn't have any because I'd done wrong. It doesn't really make sense to other people.

I remember something I read once, maybe in Marya Hornbacher's "Wasted", and copied into my notebook:

"People with eating disorders tend to be very diametrical thinkers - everything is the end of the world, everything rides on this one thing, and everyone tells you you're very dramatic, very intense, and they see it as an affection, but it's actually just how you think. It really seems to you that the sky will fall if you are not personally holding it up. On the one hand, this is sheer arrogance; on the other hand, it is a very real fear."

Oh look, now, I've ended on a depressing note despite my best intentions *sigh*

I'm not depressed, honestly. I'm content. Just prone to a melancholy writing style...

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?

Because I could really use a wish right now...

First off, thank you to Kat and Stick Thin who commented on my "Aaargh!" post (below) and gave me some perspective on what was kind of an irrational reaction to an innocent action by my husband. I like people who don't mindlessly agree with everything I say :)

He found my blog and read it. He'd like me to delete it, but I tend to hoard my life. I still have all my old diaries - not the "dear diary" kind which might make sense to keep, but those mundane weekly planner things where you scrawl things like "dentist 10a.m." and "Angela's birthday".

Something makes me equally reluctant to delete this record of myself. Secretly I guess I want something of myself to remain where I've been after I've left, but that sounds kind of melodramatic.

But I love him. I want to change, I want to be good for him. I want him to be able to focus on his studies and not have to deal with this day after day after day. I don't want to have to deal with it day after day after day. Sometimes.

Isn't the body an amazing thing? You lie asleep in bed for 8 hours, and, of its own volition, it sets about fixing itself, producing just the right quanitites of just the right proteins to renew its cells and tissues. Fertility hormones are released. Bone metabolism increases. All without your knowledge. I imagine all the people in the world lying supine in God's workshop as he tinkers around in our sleeping bodies, realigning things, patching things up, arranging our thoughts into dreams. He looks at us, pleased with his work. It's almost morning. He glances at my sleeping body and is startled. "Oh gosh!* Her mind! I forgot to fix her mind!" and he scoops up all my thoughts and feelings from the workshop floor and pushes them back into my head, higgledy-piggledy like colourful odd socks in a drawer. I wake up. A little joy, a little fear, a little anger, a little bewilderment. A little daydreaming, a little obsession, a little railing against the world. Then into that colourful chaos comes ana's voice, soft and low, full of purpose like a mother. And just like that, all my good intentions are gone.

* (I guess God's allowed to take his own name in vain, but presumably he doesn't...)

I want this and I don't..

A. says I don't need it. He says ana's an evil thing, that she comes to us when we're vulnerable, and lives in us, and makes us believe she's a part of us that we can never lose. He says I'm allowed to lose her. He says I can leave all this behind by becoming accountable for it. And when he talks like that I want so much not to have to do it any more. He wants to help me.

But I can't remember the last time I ate something without knowing or calculating how many calories were in it. It must have been 2007. How do you break these habits? The numbers have become encoded in the name. Apples have become apple95, eggs are now called eggs80, a cup of rice becomes rice190... How do I change this? How do you un-know something that you've known?

I don't want to see him sad any more. I keep remembering this one question from our wedding vows "...and forsaking all others, will you be faithful to him for so long as you both shall live?" In front of 200 people, I answered "I will" to this. And now I wonder, is this an 'other' that I need to forsake?

But he's writing his thesis this year, and it's going to be hard. This course is a machine that chews him up and spits out little pieces for me. He gives me everything he can, but nevertheless it will likely be a lonely and turbulent year. I need this. I need to know every night that tomorrow I'll count and weigh and measure, that in that respect the days will all be predictable. Without that anything could happen. The whole rhythm of my life would be upset, and I'd lose my handle on things and be back at the crazy people doctor before you know it.

Truly this is weakness, not strength.

Friday, 15 October 2010

community.livejournal post

I read something A. sent me that really troubled me and brought back some horrible and confusing memories. It's long, so I've edited it very freely, but the whole post can be read here.

You will be skinny. You will be sickly thin. But you'll see fat. Other people will see you shrink but you won't get to watch. You'll be sickly skinny...but you won't be pretty. You'll have huge dark circles. Your skin will be pasty pale & have a lovely gray tint to it. Everything you do will bruise your skin. Your hair will be straw dry & dull. It will not shine. Speaking of hair, do you like facial hair? I hope so. You'll have it. 

You'll never know if you're pregnant or not because you'll lose your period. And can still get pregnant.

You'll have leg cramps. Your muscles will be balled into excruciating knots. You'll try to massage the knots out and...what? There IS no rubbing the knots out because there are no knots. It just feels like it. There's nothing you can do. You just get to lie there & try not to scream.

But you might not be thinking about your might be distracted by the headaches.

Sometimes you'll double over as you feel something extremely painful in your bowels. (And you don't have to be on the toilet to do this. Nope. This could be in class, bed, in your computer chair.) What is it? Its shit, grinding like a rock of sandpaper against your intestines as it slowly moves. You make it to the bathroom, in terrible pain, and take your shit. You get scared when you wipe your ass, because you see blood. But you flush it away & pretend you aren't frightened. Eventually, your shit goes away. That's right, no more shitting for you. Instead you get to piss in two ways. Remember where the shit used to come from? Something else is coming out now. Water.  I'm not talking diarrhoea. I'm talking straight water. This will scare you too. But you still won't tell.

You'll probably get chest pains. Maybe heart flutters. This is scary too.

Do you have problems with depression? You do now. You're exhausted beyond belief but you still can't fall asleep... and when you do you can't stay asleep. In the day you can't concentrate. Your mind won't function. You also forget what you wanted to say a lot. Goodbye memory.

But one day this will be over. One day you will either die or recover. You have to fight this or die... and fighting it is the hardest thing you've ever done. You'll put food in your mouth, and panic and want to cry. Maybe you will cry. Maybe you'll freak and spit it back out. Triggers are everywhere and you hate yourself more with each bite you swallow.

Then she goes on to talk about recovery; the above, I knew about (she wrote about other things that I hadn't known about; I only posted here the things that were familiar from my own experience) but the following was the part that was interesting to me.

Maybe you recover. It takes a while. Even after you've eaten right for months and months your body still isn't the same. You start to wonder if it will ever be the same again. It might, but you won't. No. This will always be a part of you, it will never go away. Years later it will still be with you, you will still have those moments. Sometimes you'll pass a mirror and suddenly be 200 pounds larger. You'll panic and shake your head, trying to clear the image away. Something will happen in your life, maybe you'll lose your job. Something will happen to take away your control and you'll try to gain it back through starving. You will NEVER be the same.

One day you will wake up. One day you'll wake up & realize how much you wasted. You'll regret this more than anything and there's nothing you can do about it….There's nothing you can do to get back those wasted years. And do you know what? You probably won't even remember most of what occurred during those years. I don't.

This is the reality of anorexia. It is nothing like the powerful articles you read on how so & so overcame it. It is nothing like the beauty you see when you look at that thin model. It is nothing like that beautiful popular girl who naturally weighs 80lbs. It is nothing like anything you've ever lived before, and you will never be the same.

Is this true? Do we never get to go back to how we were? Will this haunt us for the rest of our lives? Will I spend the rest of my life always being "almost there"? Never succeeding? Never feeling satisfied?

After I recovered the first time, people approached me and said things like, "it's so great to see some colour back in your cheeks; you just looked so ashen before" and (this was horrible to hear, and impeded recovery, but I understand their intentions were good) "I'm so glad you've put some weight on; I was so scared for you". And I remember wondering when they said that what I'd actually looked like during that time. I can look at my old, little, clothes and have an idea, I know I completely lost my boobs and didn't have to wear a bra, but beyond that, I never actually *saw* myself.

Will I never now see myself? Know myself?

It's true what she says; I hardly remember anything from summer 2008 - spring 2009, which is when I was at my worst. I know what I did; I remember particular events and experiences, but I don't remember any of the feelings that accompanied those experiences.

Are we wasting our lives on this? Are we pouring ourselves, heart and soul, into something meaningless? Are we destroying it all; ourselves, the people we love?

What if we just let go? Of all the control and the counting and weighing and measuring and rituals. What would happen if we just *lived* for a moment? 

Is it too late? Will we really never be the same?

Am I crazy for even contemplating giving this up?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


How quickly things can change! Bloody peace and clarity. Every evening A and I eat dinner together, then he goes upstairs to his study and works on his dissertation until about 2a.m. I normally go in and say goodnight at around 11 when I'm going to bed. More than anything else in this marriage, the thing that upsets me most of all is that I go to bed alone every night. At that time of day, the time I expected there would be some measure of intimacy in a marriage, I feel more single than when I was single.

So, today, I wrote that last post, and went to say goodnight to him. He's watching bloody 'family guy' on the internet! Yes, I realize I should be grateful - some women walk in on their husbands watching  'sex trek : the next penetration' - but I'm not. I'm *pissed*. What is so vastly wrong with me that he'd rather watch fat cartoon men on TV than come to bed with me?!

I am sad and unattractive and alone. And, as my mom would say, having a little pity party. I'm angry with A but *furious* with myself for letting myself get to this state. I know, I know, life is what we make it, and if I was better, these things wouldn't happen. Well, it's a work in progress. We're getting there.


I feel so hungry. And in that there is comfort, familiarity, focus. And that's all that I need for now. Tomorrow I might feel any number of discontents and anxieties, but right now I have clarity, and that is enough.

Sleep peacefully.

Scales and words

So... I may have to retract yesterday's post; I think the in-laws' scales are broken. This morning the dial was at zero, I stepped on and it went up to 115 (fantastic but unlikely - I doubt I lost 5lb over Canadian thanksgiving), stepped off again and it went back down to about negative 4. So it seems they're just not  accurate. Will buy a new set during my lunch break, but not keen to step on them tomorrow morning and see where I'm *really* at...

On the topic of yesterday's post, though, I looked up 'normal' in the thesaurus (I work for a linguistics institute, we're allowed to be a little geeky like that!) and found some interesting results. They included 'corporeal', 'fleshly', 'gross' and 'substantial'. Can I just double-check again, anyone out there aspiring to any of these charming characteristics? I didn't think so.

Speaking of words, how lovely are these?


Hope you all are having an encouraging week and getting littler :)

Monday, 11 October 2010


Hardly cause for celebration, but it's lower that it's been for a long time. Puts my bmi at 19.4, which still qualifies as "normal" but I'll be out of there soon. "Normal"? Who wants that? To be unexceptional, average, run-of-the-mill. My husband said to me the other day, "you're not fat; you have a normal body". I wanted to run to the bathroom and purge everything I've eaten for the last month. It's not his fault I'm like this. He tells me time and again that he thinks I'm beautiful, and sometimes I believe him. This isn't what he signed up for, and yet he's so patient with me.

I've always chosen Ana over any man. She always comes first - that's how it's been and how I thought it would always be. But I know that has to change now; I just don't know how to do it. A told me before we were married that he would leave me if I came back here. No, maybe that's not quite right. I think he said he would leave me if I became anorexic again. And there's a good 20lbs between me and anorexia. I don't want to go back to that. I don't miss nightmares about being force-fed, I don't miss constant, dull pain in my legs as my muscles waste away, I don't miss watching my hair fall out in the shower. I miss being little and lovely and light. That's not such a bad thing, right?

Friday, 1 October 2010

Sex and Bones

The baby's father forced himself on me once. I've never told anyone. We were in an old building he told me had been a nunnery once, but all I remember was that it was freezing cold, and it had a pool table in it. We had been to a party on a boat on the River Thames. We'd both had a little too much to drink, then he disappeared somewhere with a girl, and came back high. He told me she'd spiked his drink, and I slapped him repeatedly in the face and started screaming at him a) for taking drugs when he'd promised he was getting cleaned up, and b) for not taking responsibility for what he'd done.

When the boat docked, we hadn't booked anywhere to spend the night, so we found this old building - wandering around it the next morning I deduced it was now used as an office by a deaf charity - which we broke into to spend the night. We were still angry with each other, but it was November, and the building wasn't heated, so we lay close on the floor for warmth, both trying to huddle under my coat. Later he pushed me up against the pool table and forced himself into me. But it's not rape if you don't scream, right? I'm still not sure. I was crying, and I told him no, I asked him to stop, I tried to wriggle free and to push him off me, but I never screamed for help. Maybe he thought I was playing. Maybe I gave him the wrong signals; maybe if I'd been a better person I wouldn't have lain so close, like a dirty whore.

It's been years since I even thought about that. Now, in bed with my husband, the memory creeps into my mind and spills shame and mistrust across our sheets. When I come onto him and he doesn't reciprocate, I feel like a whore again. Maybe if I was better, prettier, purer, thinner, he would want me. Later he touches me, but I turn away because I feel ashamed.

All my flesh feels soiled, and I wish to be clean and pure, bleached like bones in the sun. Solid and defined; unquestionable. A skeleton, stripped of flesh to leave only the most fundamental framework of a person. My husband is an architect. In the back of my mind I wonder if he would be proud of me for understanding this basic structural principle.