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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Quod Me Nutrit Me Destruit - 2

The day I discovered I'd forgotten how to eat.

One afternoon about six months into this terrible eating (or rather non-eating) regime, I sat down with my parents in the garden at the end of their lunch, when I judged it safe to sit at a table where food was being consumed. My father slid a section of the orange he had peeled in front of me and watched me. I didn't touch it for the longest time and he eventually asked me why I wasn't eating it. I felt backed into a corner, my heartrate shot up, I could hear my pulse beating in my ears. I was experiencing fear and I didn't know a way out. I was cornered with nowhere to turn. So I put it into my mouth.

And I didn't know what to do next. I'll never forget that moment of having something solid in my mouth for the first time in so many months and I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to chew and it felt so ghastly sitting there on my tongue. But at that moment I realised how far down I had gone, how dangerous the whole situation was, how I was holding my life in my own hands. After several moments I moved it around in my mouth, not chewing, more sucking on it while my father's eyes stayed on me. I think I understood then that he knew something was terribly wrong with me and he wasn't going to move until he saw me eat this one piece of orange. Something clicked in my mind and I honestly felt it was a matter of life and death. Mine.

Eventually, after the longest time, I moved it in my mouth until it was positioned for my teeth to bear down on. The intensity of the flavour of the juice which spurted from it was so overpowering, I almost threw up. But I also knew that I was at a breaking point and if I didn't go forward I would be back further than I had slipped even then. That day, when I ate one piece of orange sitting in the garden with my father's eyes upon my face, I broke the spell. Or maybe he broke the spell for me. I know I'm one of the incredibly lucky ones who managed to out-think this horrible condition, who managed to find the strength I needed to see it for what it is, a killer.

But my journey wasn't over, for not long after I re-learned how to eat, I then went in the opposite direction and became bulimic, consuming vast amounts of food as some sort of punishment for perhaps what one part of me was saying was a weakness, eating. I hated eating with anyone and at family meals I managed to consume a normal portion. But behind my bedroom door I was cramming food into my mouth and swallowing. And this time there was a deliberate refusal to chew, I was merely swallowing. Swallowing until my throat hurt, swallowing until my stomach was so full my gullet remained packed with food and there was physically no room left for anything else. And I'd hold in my hand the next chocolate, or biscuit or cake or slice of bread I was going to consume as soon as there was space for it.

The laxatives continued. In larger doses than before and the pain of them working on all this stuff I was cramming into my stomach was like a drug to me. I was emotionally, physically, spiritually sated by the pain. I needed it and I sought it out while continuing to force feed myself. To the point that if I was out shopping I'd buy something to eat and go straight to a public toilet and sit there eating. Yes, I was that desperate for my fix. I had moved out from my parents by then and I'd go to a fast food restaurant for a take-away meal and order three or four of them so it looked like I was buying for a family and not just me (I had packed on the pounds again despite the laxatives) and I'd go home and eat it all, sitting in an almost hypnotic state just cramming food into my mouth and swallowing it, swallowing it until my throat hurt from the size of the pieces I was swallowing without chewing. Not even stopping to breathe and finding myself gasping for breath, my eyes, so often filled with tears, fixed upon an object to stop my mind from wandering and realising what I was doing. I was back there in my earlier years, desperately trying to fill that deep dark hole inside me.

I'm not sure which was worse, the ultimate control of anorexia or the desperate loss of control of bulimia. It took me years of struggling with my bulimia to find my way out the other side and in the process I think I have destroyed my appestat. I don't know when I'm hungry and I certainly don't know when I'm full. I'm happy to say, though, that I can manage these conditions better now than at any other time of my life. But I also know that there are days, albeit rare ones now, when I find it hard to stop eating. Like an alcoholic for whom one drink is too many and a thousand drinks aren't enough. But unlike an alcoholic, I have to have that one drink, a second drink, a third drink and more. I have to keep feeding my addiction while I teach myself to overcome it.

All this is a part of who I have become and while I do acknowledge I have sometimes been an enemy to myself, I also know that each step of this, my journey to me, has been necessary and important to who I have become. I am a strong woman with many scars, few of which are visible to the naked eye.


Miranda said...

Hi there, thanks for dropping by. Wow sounds like your on the right path.

In answer to your question about detoxing on my blog, yes I am, but its regular...not hard or soft. So yeah, doing alot of that and peeing. I guess its part of the process. You see I have IBS and I wanted to fix that. I have a bad habit of eating too many carbs, Im totally addicted.

Once Im finished this cleanse I hope to keep on eating this way, but adding more protiens and stuff.

I want to loose 15lbs but would be happy with 10lbs right now. lol. Though are we ever really happy?

Im going to book mark you for later reading.

Fiona said...

Much of what I have lived through has made me who I am and I finally like who I am.

Oooooh IBS gosh I'm sorry to hear that Miranda, I hope this detoxing works well for you. It certainly seems to have eased my asthma.

I love carbs way too much!

DG said...

Quite an amazing post. Gives one insight.

Fiona said...

It was hard to write DG and even harder to read before I posted it. I almost didn't submit this two-part post.

I'm lucky and I'm blessed. But not everyone I've let in has been able to accept this side of me.

~TVS said...

This is a very powerful story. Thanks for sharing.

Fiona said...

Seeing it written down for the first time has helped me to compartmentalise it properly. Thank you for posting.

Sunny Delight said...

It was a 'good thing' you posted..sometimes it is very difficult to hit the publish button.

Abuse is an insideous evil in our world...but those of us who survive it AND the punishment we mete out upon ourselves for being abused....we are stronger, we have steel backbones, and we teach...sometimes in small ways...sometimes in large...YOU my dear are teaching :)

well done at "putting it out there"

Fiona said...

Thank you SD, it always means a lot when someone comments from a point of similar reference and empathy.

We do end up with backbones of steel, without a doubt. I have grown up to be not the victim. He is more the victim than I ever will be. He is the one haunted and unable to form any kind of relationship with me.

He is the one who remained silent at our father's funeral, unable to even speak of an exceptional man, for I believe he knows people would have looked at him and through him. He does not wear his guilt, it wears him, putting him in a constant state of discomfort.

The perpetrator becomes the victim in the end. I instead grew up and grew strong.

Sunny Delight said...

Exactly! It took me many years to not be a victim...to accept me....in some ways I am still healing.....but through that healing process I have become so much stronger, it has taught me that I can survive anything. On my low days, I think I need to remember that.

I see my abuser often, he was abused as a child also, and I have been able in a sense to work with that.

Thus, I was able to forgive...but I will never completely forget...we too have a discomfort, one that will never go away, and sometimes that makes me so very sad. The strange thing is, he is very proud of who I am, but "who I am" is mostly in spite of him, not because of him.

I also look at his life, and know of what you speak.... he WILL always be the victim ...he is near the end of his life...and when I look on his life...there is none...the lasting results of his abuse made me strong...it made him weaker, almost spiritless.

Fiona said...

So so true SD. And yes, there are days I still weep of years lost. But then I know I am me in spite of so much and it could have gone the other way. I know for many it does go the other way.

Secrets in families are so very hard on everyone. I lost my father last year, he never knew. When I lose my mother I will also lose my fear of her ever finding out and at that point I will be free completely.


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