Tuesday, March 06, 2007

the real me

Once upon a time I feared dying because I didn't want to lose my life. Now I fear dying because I don't want to miss a moment of Daniel's.

The other night as he sat on my lap and stuck his fingers in my mouth and looked up my nose and searched for my belly button as he poked and prodded while asking "beh-yoo?", I held his arm in my hand and made a circle, touching my thumb with my index finger around his little boy bicep. Then I held my hand in the air and made that same circle and for a long time, I just looked at it. It was an inch and a half in diameter. Maybe two, and I used to be able to make that same circle around my own bicep. I used to hold my arm in my hand and my fingers would meet.

I still can't believe I survived that hell, and I still find myself placing my fingers along that point on my neck, searching for a pulse and feeling that reassuring blub blub blub blub reminding me that I'm not about to die right now, this minute. Then there's the next minute to worry about so I keep finding that spot and listening hard, and I don't know if I'll ever be free of the fear of what I survived killing me before I'm ready to go.

I don't know how it started. I remember quitting smoking and not wanting to gain weight, and I recall not eating much and thinking I was just getting used to how much I could eat without gaining or losing and then somewhere in there, I just stopped eating. I lost a fuckload of weight and I shit you not, it worried me. I even went to the fishdoctor (not that he doctored fish, it was more to do with his rather unfortunate facial features) and told him that I was losing weight, I didn't know why and What the Fuck? And I wasn't even lying. Man, schtoopid *hits self upside of head* Anyhoo, he told me to come back if it continued, which, um...yeah. We all know how that turned out.

It was an obsession by then because not eating would be very, very hard hard to do if you weren;t that focussed. Anorexia isn't about hating food or not wanting it, it's all about food. Every waking moment was spent on thinking about what I would eat if I just lost another pound because then I'd have a pound I could stand to gain, and then I'd lose another pound so I could eat even more, and then another and another and it went on and on and on. My grades fell and I went from effortless A's to barely pulling D's. I was studying to be a radiograpehr at the time, my second year, but my lecturer's called me that last term and asked me what the fuck? and told me to defer the rest of the year and take some time off. I was so thin by then that I was running on brain power alone, and not needing to put one foot after the other anymore to make it to school, I virtually collapsed. The timelines are all blurred but there was some time spent in hospital after that. My weight kept dropping but I seemed to adapt to each pound I lost. I was dulled by the enormous amount of anti depressant the hospital shrink had me on, but I'd spend hours poring over recipe books, imagining what the glorious pictures would taste like and imagining eating it when I'd lost that extra pound. Eating, not eating, reading imagining, bla bla bla, and that was my life. Somewhere in that whole mess of thinking, I learned how to purge, which is a somehow less ugly way of saying "puke my guts up until my face was swollen", and it became all of me. I'd become completely withdrawn by then, and I'd been left alone too with my parents moving to Italy. The treatment facility pulled the plug too, practising some fucked you kind of hard love where if you didn't improve they punished you by cutting you loose entirely. Granted my conspiracy theories provide me with a rich inner life, but these places were funded by government grants, and people dying on their watch didn't write cheques for future funding. I remember feeling like such a failure even before then though, because the treatment assumed one wanted to get well, and I didn't want to. I didn't get how I'd missed the vital bit where I learned how to want to get better. I wanted to want that, I really did.

Anyway, bla bla self absorbed bullshit bla bla poor me bla. Being emaciated kept me safe in my mind as it threatened my body. It protected me from hurt because the more you starve the less you feel. I think I'd always felt lost, unloved, abandoned, unworthy, and even when all that was validated by my own parents not thinking I was worth saving, I didn't anymmore. I just felt nothing. And in re that not worth saving jive, jesus, if I'd been ill for a million years then yes, I'd understand the tough love approach they took, but I'd been sick for less than a year. I attended my therapy sessions twice a week: once with my psychiatrist and once with my counselor. I demonstrated a commitment to at least finding a want to get better, and it pisses me beyond fuck that they weren't there when I needed them. It pisses me beyond even that that they not only left me to die, they left me to die alone.

Thing is, sunshines, if I wanted to die I would have done so, but I didn't, and the very people who are supposed to love me beyond reason kept on waiting and waiting for me to get on with it because that was the plan. I die, they get on with it. They did what they wanted and didn't want to think about what I wanted because that would have taken an investment in time and an unconditional love and jesus christ, their own child? How could they? How dare they? Which brings me to my new want, I want to want to let go.

But in the meantime...

There was this voice in my head yelling and yelling and yelling at me to stop the lunacy because it was mad crazy but I couldn't listen because of that other voice. I hung on so hard to starving because if I didn't....I don't know. Something bad would happen, like I'd die or something, which is fucked logic because not eating kind of kills you too. People always talk about how scared they are for the person who has a life threatening eating disorder, but seriously, does anyone ever stop to think about how fucking terrifying it is to be that eating disorder? I say 'be' because it consumes you so much that you lose who you once were. It's terrifying because you're still inside that madness, trying so hard to get out but you can't, you just can't. It's terrifying because you know it's you who's doing this to you, and it's terrifying because as much as you want to, you can't make it stop because it is you.

Someone asked my just last week about what I did to stay alive, but I don't know what I did. I guess I lived instead, which would be deep if it wasn't so ridiculous.

I was 33 kilos by then and purging became so easy by then that all I needed to do was lean over the john to do it. Other people my age were traveling and living and working and loving and creating families and lives and making memories that enrich their existence to this day, and I spent that same time crouched over the toilet and speaking to god on the great, white telephone. That was my life and those are my memories.

I never stopped working though, even if it was only a few hours a week, and I never treated myself like I was physically ill. I kept on keeping on and pretending that everything was AOK, and I tell you this so you don't think I'm a total parasite and an utter failure. There's still two voices in my head, and that's the stronger one. The second one, the more subdued and unsure one tells me that they should be ashamed of condeming me to, at worst, death and at best, a lifetime of torment. It tells me that I should be proud of where I am and what I've done because I've done it alone and bla bla bla. Try as I might to think otherwise, I still think that voice is full of shit.

I've gained weight but I still have an eating disorder. I don't think people want to hear that. They want to believe that I'm fine and well and not a problem anymore. They want to believe I'm setting a wonderful exaample for my son. I'm not, I'm not and I am, and I'm not. I binge when I'm stressed and I'm stressed a whole lot of the time. The more I binge, the more I purge and the more I purge the more disgusted, disappointed and sad and trapped I become. I'm caught in a never ending loop and it's me who's left me there. I wish my problem was smack of coke or ice because there's rehab for that. I'm so scared this is going to kill me. I don't know what to do because to do anything I have to tell someone, and I'm too ashamed to do that. I think about food more than I think about my son. I love him so much and I hate this so much and yet this is more my life than he is.

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