My world is crashing in on me

My world is crashing in on me, and no one sees. That’s ok, because I am one of many.

My world is crashing in on me, and no one sees. That’s wrong, because I am a person, and people are meant to matter.

Nine years ago today I wore red as I walked out the door to get married.  My future mother-in-law could barely contain her scorn at my attire.  I didn’t wear red by deliberate choice, but when you leave the preparations for the wedding until the day before, you get what you can.

Memories of the wedding are sketchy, at best.  We had a picnic the day before the wedding with the mother and two friends.  We did this because we were expecting my future husbands family to ruin the wedding day… they did.  One thing I remember clearly, is when the small gathering threw rose petals over us after the toasts, none of the petals went into my drink; so my mother-in-law picked some up off the ground, threw them into my glass, and made a smart comment about that being better.

Many weddings are about the expectations of the bride… mine were of dread.  In many ways, the wedding was not my own… my sister-in-law has such a dominating personality, that she overshadowed everything – my hair, the photography, directing people around, etc.  The sister, whom I hadn’t communicated with in over ten years passed sarcastic comments onto the mother about her not receiving a wedding invitation… yes, there was the double whammy of her sarcasm, and the mother’s need to inform me of that sarcasm… My future in-laws played games regarding whether they were going to attend, or not.  They only came because their other son paid for the entire trip.  Then on the day, my mother decided that her outfit was too similar to my only invited friends, so I had to help her find an alternative to wear…  Many of these things are run-of-the-mill issues associated with wedding days; but, they increased my anxiety, and therefore levels of dissociation.

The drama didn’t end at the ceremony, but continued through to mix-ups with the billing of the hotel room for the wedding night… We met several very nice police that day…

Did I mention that I didn’t want to get married?  I didn’t.  The only reason the marriage happened, is because he needed to marry.  He needed that security.  Later, as the marriage was falling apart, he often said that if we separated that it would be the end of us both… that I would commit suicide, and that he would be devastated with grief as he returned to the comfort of my mother – note, that he was wanting to gain comfort from my mother, not his.  That sentiment alone indicates his level of dysfunction, pain and confusion…

Marriage was never my thing.  During school, when introduced to the concept of debating, I was on the affirmative team arguing that marriage was an outdated institution.  It was rather amusing, as we drew a picture of marriage as a physical institution… the teacher changed the wording for the debate the following year.  We did get an A though…

I’ve usually seen marriage as a tie to someone who would hurt you.  My marriage didn’t dissuade me from that opinion.  Saying that, I have seen happy marriages… marriages where a combination of compatibility, hard work, and a variety of other factors, have meant that everyone involved has grown in positive ways…  At times, I wish I had that… But, I know I’m too broken for such things.

So yes, my world in crashing in on me… I have failed to work with Eating Disorder Services because I couldn’t meet the directives they established… I have failed at creating any sort of working relationship with my new team leader, and am now building a reputation as being difficult within the workplace… My continual poor communication skills have resulted in my withdrawal from my support system, and causing hurt to those who have braved staying around… Allison is left in the dark as to the reasoning for my behaviour, as I continue to withdraw and become less communicative… Then, earlier this week, the final straw, this chain email from the mother…

I remember the cheese of my childhood,
and the bread that we cut with a knife,
when the children helped with the housework,
and the men went to work not the wife.

The cheese never needed an ice chest,
and the bread was so crusty and hot,
the children were seldom unhappy
and the wife was content with her lot.

I remember the milk from the billy,
with the yummy cream on the top,
our dinner came hot from the oven,
and not from the fridge in the shop.

The kids were a lot more contented,
they didn’t need money for kicks,
just a game with our mates in the paddock,
and sometimes the Saturday flicks.

I remember the shop on the corner,
where a pen’orth of lollies was sold
do you think I’m a bit too nostalgic,
or is it….I’m just getting old?

I remember when the loo was the dunny,
and the pan man came in the night,
it wasn’t the least bit funny
going out the back with no light.

The interesting items we perused,
from the newspapers cut into squares,
and hung on a peg in the outhouse,
it took little to keep us amused.

The clothes were boiled in the copper,
with plenty of rich foamy suds
but the ironing seemed never ending
as Mum pressed everyone’s duds

I remember the slap on my backside,
and the taste of soap if I swore
anorexia and diets weren’t heard of
and we hadn’t much choice what we wore.

Do you think that bruised our ego?
or our initiative was destroyed
we ate what was put on the table
and I think life was better enjoyed.

I realise that she is reminiscing about her childhood… But, she also knows that I experienced sexual abuse within the environment that this poem glorifies… Oh, and yeah, she knows about my eating disorder too…  The irony is that her childhood wasn’t perfect… if it was, she wouldn’t be this unaware of the potential impact of this poem on me…

So yes, my world in crashing in on me…  Oddly enough, I don’t think it’s going to hurt.

Now playing: Audioslave – Doesn’t remind me


Purple Death

Distraction… that’s all I’m about lately.  Distract from the reality of my experience, and the emotions it generates.  One simple example of this, is that after I wrote the title of this post, I immediately started looking at the prices of slow cookers… To put that into context, I don’t cook.  So yes, distraction has become a way of life…  But, to distract from what?  That’s the million dollar question…

I’ve started to get hints as to what the distraction is about… Early last year, I experienced a long period of intense suicidal ideation and intent.  While feeling a constant level of ideation is not unusual for me, there were significant changes in how it was addressed… When I reached out for help, there were consequences in the form of being placed in the Police holding cells as part of suicide assessment procedures; in a separate incident, I was subjected to a rather traumatic psychiatric assessment; and there was also the ACC privacy breach.  These incidents had a profound effect on me… the most dramatic being that I stopped seeking help.

This may seem counter-intuitive; but, my trust was shaken, and all I could see were the negative consequences of asking for help.  As I struggle with asking for help anyway, these incidents were fodder to that old belief system that no one is to be trusted, and that I have to do this alone.  Practically, this has been shown by the less frequent posts here, less frequent communication with Allison via email, withdrawing from friends and family, etc…

This withdrawal becomes a habit that snowballs so easily… it’s fed by my anxieties and my already isolated existence.  Also, if I’m withdrawing from everyone, then I don’t need to talk about things… I don’t need to face them… I can hide… I can focus on my lack of connection, rather than the reason for the lack of connection… It’s something tangible that I can hold up as a problem to those that I do try to connect with… it’s also easy to explain away when someone asks me why I’ve been more distant…  The line “I’m sorry, it’s nothing personal, I’ve been withdrawing from everything…” has become a bit of a mantra.

But, a distraction from what?

The first hints came a few weeks ago, when I was showing a friend around my house, and showed them an old bottle of Purple Death…  I’ve carried this bottle of alcohol with me for nearly 30 years.  I’ve never had any intention of drinking it; but instead have said that I’m carrying it around because of the funny label…  But, when I look at the origins of that bottle, I doubt that reasoning.  I was given this bottle by one of the sisters boyfriends… a boyfriend whom I idolised, and abused me.

I remember him being charismatic… he seemed so mature to my 10-year-old self.  Looking back, I can see that he was very good at paying just the right amount of attention to me… that is, just the right amount to manipulate the dysfunctional relationship between the sister and I.  He alternated between tolerating me, and showering me with attention.  As I was starved for attention, I lapped it up…

Looking back, I can see his actions fairly clearly… What does me in, is that the mother suspected something was happening between the sister’s boyfriend and I; but, her focus remained on the sister.  The mother knew he was bad for her, and tried to stop the relationship… but, it was all focused on dealing with the sister’s increasing levels of acting out.  Any concern for me was a very distant afterthought… I was the “good one” after all…

It is this dynamic that I often return to when I look at the past… all concern for me was swept aside by the worries for the more dysfunctional members of the family.  When I look at the sisters behaviour, I can understand that intellectually… she was quick to adopt a sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll existence.  But, it also generates a “what about me” feeling… I feel so pathetic and attention seeking writing that sentence… Like I’m whining, and just need to get over it already…  But, I also know that the feelings generated by that dynamic and message, have major impacts on my life now.  It taught me that others are more important than me; that people can, and should hurt me without consequence; and that I am worthless… the ultimate mistake at the end.

The shame associated with this dynamic are immense… But, there’s also anger… How can someone chose one child over another?  What drives that decision?  The sister was already acting out, so what would the consequences have been if the mother had chosen to protect me?  Just… WHY???

I said that there was shame and anger… well, there’s also sadness.  Sadness for that little girl who was so starved for positive attention, that she willingly went to an abuser…  Describes both the sister and I, doesn’t it?


As for the bottle of Purple Death… I threw it into the trash on Monday.  If only the emotions and memories were as easily discarded…

Now playing: Powderfinger – My Happiness

My neon sign

I’ve often joked about the figurative neon sign above my head that reads “Go away!”…  But, those jokes cover a variety of issues that I experience – an inability to trust, be vulnerable, and basically experience any emotion without dissociating.  My past has taught me that people were unreliable, likely to hurt me, and best be avoided.  However, I’m also very human; and as such, crave human contact; this creates a dynamic I experience over and over…  I do things which I consider to open the door to communication, but also look for any hint that the person isn’t genuine, interested, or able to reciprocate in any way.  Depending on the level of involvement that I am expecting to have with the person, I then decide how much energy, and risk I’m willing to take.

Sometimes this has worked out well… for example, my cynical work friend and I get on well.  We’ve formed a good working friendship/relationship, where we can share different aspects of her life, and I share more with her about my life than anyone else around me… it’s a very guarded sharing, but it’s still sharing.

Sometimes this has been a disaster… for example, when I was talking to a mental health nurse this week, I basically set her up to respond in a way that would encourage her to tell me all of the negative aspects of her job.  At the time it was almost automatic, but it was also something that I wanted to explore as a way of finding out her thinking and approach.  It sadly turns out as if my fears were correct.  It came about because my mother had a scathing attitude towards the “manipulative young girls with eating disorders” that she encountered while a nurse… so, when the conversation during my ED appointment turned to online support, it was easy to talk with the nurse about the “destructive, manipulative” behaviours supported through “negative ED sites”… To the nurse, this was probably a conversation about how I was not going to those sites; but to me, this was about her having the same disdain and lack of empathy for those young girls that my mother exhibited.  In my mind, that has totally changed our working relationship… trust is non-existent, and I am feeling the blocks of resistance when thinking of doing anything that she suggests…

I have basically set us both up for failure.  I will go back next week, having been unable to do either of the things that she took for granted were going to happen, and it will reinforce the notes that she has now read from the Mental Health Crisis Team, which say that I’m difficult.  She didn’t hear, or dismissed my concerns about expectations for this week… so it will come back to my difficult nature and resistance to treatment.

But, the situation where this dynamic is most challenging, is when old patterns of dysfunction are involved… for example, the relationship with my mother.  My mother has shown the willingness to be supportive… she has travelled to stay with me after the last attack by my ex-husband, and when I was hospitalised.  But, while she has done these physical acts, there has been a barrier to any emotional connection.  I realise that the barrier is our past… the hurts, misunderstandings, defensiveness, etc.  We continually seem to approach each other from a place of hurt and confusion.  Neither of us understands the other, and we don’t know how to begin a conversation that would ease that position.  A big factor in that, is the neon sign that I wear above my head… my mother helped me build that sign through her actions towards me in the past, so why would I want to change that now?  At times, I don’t.  I want to keep my distance from her, and everyone.  But, at other times, I see the vulnerability; the attempts to reach out, and I wonder if things could be better.

The problem, is that my pattern of taking care of those around me, has meant that I have often been the one to reach out first.  The flip-side of that, is that my “Go away!” sign, means that people often don’t see my distress, or don’t want to reach out first, for fear of being rebuffed.  My mother described this dynamic a few years ago when we saw Bob… Bob asked my mother what she wanted in regards to me, and my mother’s response was that she wanted me to let her in, to let her help.  I remember being stunned… she wanted to help now… after all these years… oh, please!  The thing is, she was genuine… she wants to help, but she doesn’t know how.  When you combine this lack of knowledge, with my defences, you have two people stuck, circling each other…

Last week, there was a small communication between us, which made me think about the dynamics with my mother.  I’m arranging to go to my hometown for Christmas, and the only day that I can arrive is my sister’s birthday.  Considering that my sister and I haven’t talked in over 10 years, I thought this might be difficult; so sent a number of texts and a phone call to my mother before making the bookings.  This small interaction made me wonder about the role, or power, that I play in the continued tenuous relationship with my mother…

A few years ago a very good friend told me that I would need to make the first move in rebuilding the relationship with my mother.  At the time I baulked at that thought… she’s the one who hurt and neglected me!  Why should I make the first move?  But now, I can see the position that has put me in… My mother knows that I am the child she didn’t see.  She knows I’m hurt in ways she doesn’t understand, and that hurts her.  Yes, her pain is about herself, rather than me… but, unless I communicate with her, she will never understand my point of view.  She may never be capable of fully understanding what occurred, and the implications… but the current situation isn’t working either.

There are situations where it’s best to remove yourself from the family group for your own safety… I’ve done that with my sister and father.  But there is a possibility that I could form a better relationship with my mother.  I don’t think it will ever be perfect, as she has so many issues of her own… but, it’s worth trying… I think.

Now playing: REM – Everybody hurts

Visiting the past

This past weekend, I visited my hometown.  It’s the first time I’ve been back in over five years. Being back there was awful, healing, confusing, and so much more.  I’m still trying to make sense of it all, but need to write something down in order to start the reflective process, and ward off it being lost in the dissociation.

There were some beautiful moments, such as going down to the beach near sunset.  There was humour, with my mother, brother, and I talking about movies we’d seen… it soon became obvious that our respective approaches to movie going is very different!

But, there were also endless triggers…

On Sunday morning, my mother met my sister to go to church.  I had never connected it before, but this reminded me of when my father decided to “find God” when I was a teenager.  This was the final trigger that prompted me to visit places of importance from my past.  The main place I wanted to see was the bar associated with my father… the place where I have different memories that are so disjointed…

As I drove out to the bar, I passed a factory filled with bad memories… or rather, where the factory once stood.  There was a wave of relief to see that it was now totally different, filled with various industries and businesses.  I passed my old high, and middle schools… and again, so much had changed.  They were still recognisable, but it was obvious that 20+ years had passed since I walked across those fields.  Even though the suburb that was my home for so long has changed dramatically… new roads and malls; it still has the same feel.

Then the bar itself… The first thing that threw me, was that the entrance had changed.  I can now see where the extensions were added; but at the time, I was totally disoriented.  As the place was closed, I could walk around and peer through windows undisturbed. I started off by looking through the main entrance windows, and saw the short corridor that had the toilets going off each side…  That was enough to create a sense of panic, and an immediate free-fall into dissociation.

I walked around the building in a depersonalised state… looking at the different parts of the building and clinically ticking them all off on my internal check-list.  When I got around to the changing room entrance, things shifted… it was locked, and I was unable to see down the corridor.  I could tell each room based on the windows outside, but this wasn’t enough… I needed to see down that corridor.  But, it was impossible.

I looked into the main hall, and saw so many changes… some of them were about perspective (the hall looked so much smaller than I remembered); but other things such as the new carpet and different tables, were more tangible… But then, I saw the kitchen area, and it acted as a grounding moment.  I snapped back to some sort of awareness, and started taking pictures… I took pictures of all of the areas that I remembered, then wandered around the streets, trying to ground myself.

During my walk, I found this mural…

At the time, I called it “Don’t Speak”…  There seemed something fitting about the red being painted over the mouth.

After the bar, I visited my old elementary school, the kindergarten, and a couple of significant houses… Again, there were so many changes.  I found one of the houses, only to see that the wood shed was being pulled down.  Another now houses a charity; and while it still looked the same, the entrance was totally different… where there was once an opening in the fence for the driveway, framed mosaics are now hung on a continuous fence.

In so many ways, these changes were disorienting… But, there was still enough of the old elements present, to allow me to see the historical context.

I know that memory is not an exact thing… I know it can be influenced, and change over time… So, in many ways, going back to these places was meaningless.  But, it was also healing, in that many things were confirmed, and I could also see how time had changed the places which once housed so much pain for me.

As for the rest of the trip… well, it had its ups and downs… I had a panic attack in McDonald’s, and had to go for a walk to try to calm down… I did some dissociative shopping, and had to return some rather odd clothing choices…  I had a fun birthday evening with my brother and mother…

But, probably the most important thing happened on my last morning there…  My mother and I went to have a coffee, and started talking about my sister.  It seems she has moved past the idea that I had the best childhood known to mankind, and has instead started seeing things in a different way.  My mother relayed how much sorrow (guilt?) my sister feels for “abandoning” me when she moved out at the age of 16.  This seemingly simple admission stirred so many emotions… a feeling of validation, that I wasn’t imagining how bad it was growing up in that house…  compassion for my sister, who was burdening herself with responsibilities that aren’t hers to hold…  compassion for my mother, who was obviously now looking back on the damage done by the past…

There is nothing simple about a trip down memory lane… but, it can be healing.  It helped me to see that, although I live with the effects of those events every single day; the events were a long time ago.  That doesn’t make what happened right, nor does it allow me to forgive, or forget… but, it does mean that I can help ease those fears when I’m caught in the flashbacks…  If nothing else, that knowledge made the trip worthwhile.

Now playing: Taylor Swift – Safe & Sound
via FoxyTunes

Anxiety vrs reality

One of the ways that anxiety manifests for me, is the fear created when I imagine the worst case scenario that could happen when facing a situation.  It feels all-encompassing.  There is no relief from its control.  This morning, all of my distraction techniques, grounding methods, and even my prescribed “emergency” medications haven’t helped ease its grip over me.

It feels like I’m in some invisible tug-of-war between reality, and anxiety related scenarios…  Anxiety is winning!

Here are some of the issues causing my anxiety…

Scenario 1:  My abusive ex-husband will be in town this weekend for a special event.

Reality tells me that he will obey the Protection Order that I have against him, and will not approach the house.

Anxiety shows me (in great detail), all of potential scenarios where he will come to the house… He might want to show the people he’s with, where he lived with the “fruit-loop”… He might want to see if I still live here…  He might be curious as to what the house now looks like…

Within my mind, the anxiety scenario becomes bigger, and badder.  I see him driving up and sitting outside in the car.  I see him standing at the door.  I hear the taunts that I know he can throw at me.  I see him in the house.  I see him hurting me.

My imagination weaves abuses from the past into the potential scenario, making them seem all to real.  It becomes more and more difficult to reality check what my imagination is creating; and anxiety hits in wave, after wave.

Scenario 2:  Next month I have to present at a weekend conference in another town.  There will be several people going from work – including the co-worker who has sexually harassed me on a couple of occasions.  Everyone from work will be staying in the same hotel.

Reality tells me that my presentation will be fine – it’s a small conference, and the topic of my presentation is interesting.  The co-worker will not do anything to harass me at the conference.

Anxiety tells me that the presentation will be a total disaster.  The person following me in the program, is my former bullying boss, and she will take great delight in telling everyone how bad my talk was, before starting into her own presentation.  I will lose all of the respect that my former team leader has for me, and the audience will try, but fail, to smother their derisive laughter during my presentation.

It also tells me, that I’ll be harassed by my co-worker in a more direct way.  It will evolve from verbal harassment, to physical.  I won’t be able to stop it, and I’ll end up dissociating in a strange town with no access to my usual support network.  I’ll end up self-injuring, badly.

Again, my imagination weaves images that I’ve seen in the media, or my own experiences, into the scenario.  It becomes bigger, and badder than any known reality.

Scenario 3:  I’m going back to my home-town for my birthday. 

Reality tells me that it’s only for a couple of days, and everything will be fine.  It might be a shock to return there, and possibly disorienting; but, it will be fine as long as I remember the skills I’ve picked up in distraction and grounding.  It’s all about staying in the present.

Anxiety tells me that I’ll be swamped with memories.  My mother will invade my space by going through my possessions – I have proof that she has done so during her latest visit.  I’ll be forced to interact with my sister, and my sister-in-law… both people I would rather avoid.  I’ll be overwhelmed, and end up self-injuring.

I know that my fears are driving these anxiety scenarios… fear of failure, being hurt, humiliation, and being seen.  At times, I can step back from those fears, and reality check them; but, at the moment, they are all I see.  I was hoping that by writing this out, they might ease their grip over me… that I could intellectualise the scenarios, and put the fears into the boxes on the shelves in my mind.  If there was only one of the scenarios happening, I would try to feel the emotions, and ease them that way.  But, with all three, it feels too big…

The first scenario was talked about with Allison this week; but it was more a process of giving voice to the fears, rather than establishing any action plans.  I’m going into the weekend anxiety filled, and unable to remain grounded.  I’m experiencing derealisation, and panic attacks.  Yet, I’m sitting here at work, as if I’m fine…

I’ll be fine… I always am.

It happens?

Monkeytraps is one of my favourite mental health professional blogs.  It’s about control, relationships, and monkeys… well less about monkeys, and more about control.  Steve Hauptman (the author) writes some really interesting posts; so when I saw the latest one titled Just the world, I was curious as to what it was about.  This was my sister’s birthday after all, the perfect day to be challenged slightly…  However, there was no way I could have anticipated what actually happened…

Steve wrote about how each of us form this concept of what is a “just world”… one where good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people.  I admit, that I fall into this thinking, regarding myself and my past… I was abused because I was bad, evil, asked for it, provocative, a slut, a whore… the list goes on. I don’t judge others in this way; but for myself, I lay it on thick!

After describing this “just world” scenario, Steve gave the punch line… we buy into this concept of a “just world” because it gives the illusion of control.  Talk about a kick in the gut…

All of my life I have strived to be perfect.  I got as many A’s as I could, while panicking over every B and C; I played sport above my age grade; I was silent; I didn’t cry; I did everything within my power to be perfect… Because if they saw how perfect I really was, they would stop…  They would leave me alone.

But I knew that they saw the evil in me.  They saw how dirty and disgusting I was; so my focus of control changed.  I no longer wanted them to stop, as I was beyond redemption.  Instead, my only purpose, was to stop others from being hurt.  As I grew up, I thought I had succeeded with this aim… I wasn’t aware of any whispers about other girls being taken to “those” places. My sister seemed troubled, but “fine”.

It wasn’t until I finally admitted to my mother what had happened about five years ago, that she said “was one of the boys J. Doe?  Because I was talking to his mother the other week, and she was telling me about the historical sexual abuse charges he is facing”.  At that point, my idea of a “just world” collapsed.  I had failed.  I hadn’t been enough for them to not hurt others; and I hadn’t spoken up so that others would have been spared.  My illusion of control crumbled…

I was unable to see beyond this being my fault… my control… my fault…

I still can’t.  I can’t accept, as Steve suggests, that there is no “just world”; but instead, the  world is a place where justice is possible, and that shit happens.  It can happen to good people, or bad.  It doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t discriminate, it just happens.

But if that’s true; then maybe one day, a long, long time ago, I was maybe a good person?  Maybe?

But bad things happen to bad people, so maybe I was bad all along.  I came into this world screaming, and didn’t stop for six months.  I was difficult and evil, even then.

Please let me have saved at least one person.  Please.  Please don’t let what they did to me, be for nothing.  There had to be some purpose beyond their needs and wants?  There does, doesn’t there?  There must.  That is why it’s easier for me to believe it was my fault, my evil, my badness attracting the inevitable karma of equal badness to balance out the universe.

Funny thing is… we used to say “shit happens” all the time growing up… “Shit happens, and then you get over it”.

As a note: I never think anyone else deserves bad things to happen to them.  Please know that.  I always turn it in on myself, but never hold that thinking for others.  I’m always devastated to know of any pain to any other living thing.

Now playing: The Verve Pipe – The Freshman
via FoxyTunes

My relationship with food

Of all the relationships in my life, my one with food is probably one of the most dysfunctional.  It started from when I was a baby, when I was defined as a “fussy eater”.  This warped over time into odd eating behaviours… when my mother used to get us ready for school, I remember we would have breakfast and a prepared lunch; but that only happened for the first couple of years of my schooling, and I was soon going to school without breakfast or lunch.  I don’t remember ever feeling hungry during these times, but I do remember the embarrassment when it was raining and we had to eat our lunch in the classroom… I always pretended that I’d forgotten my lunch.  It wasn’t that we were poor, and couldn’t afford food; I just didn’t know how to make lunch, and I wasn’t really interested.  The couple of times that I did make my lunch, I recall looking at it as an oddity, and as if it was some sort of foreign thing that had arrived out of the blue.  I never felt jealous of my friends who had lunches, only boredom as I waited for them to finish eating.

During my childhood, there were a couple of significant events involving food and my weight that strongly effected me:

  1. My father commented that “at least she’s not fat like her mother and sister”.
  2. My mother would compare myself and her friends daughters regarding our weight.  One time she pushed in my loose t-shirt, to show that I didn’t have a “fat stomach”.

These events dehumanised me, and made me think that if I was overweight, then no one would want to touch me.  That weight would act like a protective barrier against the world.  This thinking became strong during my teens, and I gained weight…  I no longer wanted people to touch me.  But what I didn’t expect, was the teasing and self-hatred that my weight caused.  This is what started the roller-coaster that my weight became – I would lose weight, and feel vulnerable to abuse; so gain weight, and feel disgusting and gross.

When I attended university, my weight issues came to a head.  I couldn’t afford food, and there were stressors which meant that some of my other self-injurious behaviours became out of control.  My weight dropped drastically.  It was the first time that the doctors started weighing me as a way of monitoring what was going on.  As I’d never owned any scales, this was the first time I’d been weighed since I was in school.  I remember being horrified at my weight… it was much too high.  I’ve never had an ideal weight in my mind, but what was being shown on the scale was way above what I thought it should be.  I remember the doctor talking about nutrition, and how I was showing signs of deficiencies.  I remember him talking about having to monitor my weight unless I got it back up to a healthy level.  All I wanted, was to run and hide.

When I finished university, by weight went back to the roller-coaster, mainly dipping when I was going out with someone.  In many ways, I considered eating to be an inconvenience.  People seemed obsessed with it, and I couldn’t understand the obsession.  At other times, I would be eating, and part way through a mouthful of food, become so disgusted with what was in my mouth that I didn’t know what to do with it.  Sometimes I would have to go and get rid of it, sometimes I was frozen in disgust.

During my marriage, food was a control issue… everything else in my life was so out of control, that I had to have some control somewhere.  The ex-husband was a big man, and a big eater.  He liked to think that he was a chef, but in reality, he was a glorified kitchen hand.  He preferred fatty, unhealthy foods.  That, in combination with the memories surrounding the times when my father was a butcher, were the final straw for my brain, and I could no long touch uncooked food.  It became difficult to touch any food, but uncooked meat, was especially difficult.  The feel of it on my skin was stomach churning.  This, combined with feeling that I didn’t deserve good nutrition, again led to more signs of malnutrition… oddly enough I was overweight at this time, but not eating food that had any nutritional value.

During the process of my divorce, the food issues ramped up again.  I soon couldn’t eat at all.  I was surviving on nutritional drinks, and trying to show a smiling face to the world.

Other forms of self-injury have co-existed with my food issues, and often if one of the other forms increases, then the food issues ease off.  It’s seemed like some sort of warped trade-off.  But now, it’s revolving solely around food.

Over the last few months, I’ve lost a fairly significant amount of weight.  But oddly enough, even though I weigh myself every day, with the hope of losing weight, a part of me doesn’t connect the dots between losing weight, and losing dress sizes.  So when I had to go and buy new clothing, there was a panic about going down in size… fears of the abuse starting again resurfaced, and ironically, drove a need for more food control.

I’ve never been diagnosed as having an eating disorder, so I feel a bit of a fake talking about this… but as someone recently told me, you don’t have to be diagnosed with something, in order to have a problem with it.  I have a problem, I’m just not sure how bad it is.

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