it begins with your family, but soon it comes round to your soul
Not for the first time here, you'll hear I exclaim "would that it were".
Would that it were, that I could truly abandon, relinquish control, not to death, to acceptance, to life.
Would that I could but I can't.
I told Thursday of a need to get the better of physical/mental, er, 'problems'.
One of these great problems is the problem of food.
Since I was a chubby child taking pennies from the bottle to buy a 15p Milky Way crispy roll each time I ventured out with friends, this warped conditioning of food as comfort, consolation and reward has shadowed me. I recall a best friend of the time, Craig (for Tomboyish was I, uncomfortable with all things feminine), saying to me "Nelly, you've always got something in your mouth". As it were yesterday, walking down the lane towards what had been the old bakery, now Dai's bungalow, towards Maescynnog car park and the fields beyond it, that sentence, innocently and astutely observed, cutting into me, forcing me to accept it's truth, to playfully shrug off its accuracy.
I did, ever a 'treat', not just because it was withheld at home (confectionary that is), there was omnipresent a feeling that I was enduring something and in need of/deserving reward thus. At 9, 10, 11, social interaction wasn't the pain it would come to be, not at all, I loved my friends, our adventures, Stephen, Craig, Carly, Nia, dirt, mud, going home late. True I was somewhat achingly aware that I was taller than both boys and girls, the former who were a few years my senior, not just tallest, I don't know, burly. They four were pictures of youthful sinewy mischief, translucent easily bruised flesh and freckles. Where I was lumpy, ungainly, pale as a discarded olive. Downy upper lip. Greased. I had become chubby also. Ahh beauty I hear you exclaim.
None of this is unique I know, I too know that the skinnier oft worried of being too childlike, underdeveloped, shrunken, pale, fragile. Not as oft in the case of my four, as I would regularly if cautiously illicit.
It is only now with the luxury of hindsight and the curse of over thinking that I'm able to pinpoint this dependance on food of course. What was instinctive habit at the time is now the germ, the formative years of a persistent struggle.
Perhaps at the time it was a cushion of comfort in the increasingly uncomfortable world I was beginning to wake to. Presently however, all true, unconscious comfort has departed. I still use food thus, as I did in my youth, an ugly unfeminine female, an uncoordinated non-masculine boy, a soft though sexless and disgusting moustachioed eunuch. I still over/under eat, in a balance such that ensures no outside worry or suspicion. Good, I don't want people to worry or fear or speculate. (I've often awfully thought that if self-harm has no physically visible (glaring scar-type) marks, people are more denying/comfortable with it, I can't quite express it well, but often feel this, awkwardness, not stigma, not aggression, just, maybe mild frustration from others that I should never let inner turmoil pour out into the domain of the visible, public... So no, I don't want anymore sympathy, I don't want my bones to protrude ghostly and brittle, anymore than I want to loose sight of my funny feet...) But, I do, desperately seek help, support, understanding.
Food addiction and its adjacent mental anguish can't be a real problem for anyone who isn't either obese nor severely underweight surely?! I admit, I fall into neither of these categories, in fact on the old BMI scale I fall on "the heavier side of healthy", nearly ideal, basically normal in this world of ever expanding waistlines. Add Veganism, gluten intolerance and IBS to that, and the resultant tailored diet paints me in a picture of health! Small portions. No meat? Cheese?! Eggs! White bread, white sugar, iodized salt, pasta etc, etc,. ("What do you eat?!")
It is the attitude that's unhealthy, deciding to fast one day and binge the next, to drink water on empty until you're a shivering headachey fetus, to stuff your face until you're regurgitating, to withhold foods such that normal, enjoyable social interactions are endured in a tumult of foolish resentment, crazy fixations and cruel self-scrutiny.
When life is routine, normal, not thrilling nor depressing, average, friend-filled and oft warming - the above vicious circling is endurable. Indeed it even abates, and, without your realising, for the first time in your adult life you have a healthy relationship with food by default of your not noticing the relationship!
I lived with Sophie during my second and third years of university, I don't think either of us was overjoyed with our lives and the idea of our respective futures at the time, but I think it's fair to say that neither of us were suicidal! While it wasn't all rose-tinted ease, there was a certain element of contentment and safety. I can assuredly say that, looking back (at the time as mentioned I was blissfully, truly, unaware of the fact that) I wasn't thinking about food. I wasn't withholding dessert, afraid of biscuits, paranoid about being nutrient deficient, nothing. We eat together mostly, the same foods and near enough the same portions. No IBS, no intolerances, no food related neuroses. I cannot accurately express how liberating that is, for a person with abundant neuroses of other origins. I actually unknowingly lost weight, by not thinking about food constantly, eating when hungry, indulging in a sweet cuppa and chocolatey straw daily.
I've taken away my break-away and my being is unravelling!
Of course it's not as simple as this. I know presently if I allow myself tea and cake my life's problems aren't ended.
When all scaffolds are removed, unwelcome change abounds and understanding and nourishing people far off, the circle is not only damaging but pervading, unending, inescapable.
I do feel though, that we struck a balance, S and I.
I hope she won't mind my sharing, but her particular mental-physical relationship with food involves her complete inability (despite knowing it's damaging to health) to consume adequate amounts of food during times of personal anguish. Sensible meals are forgotten for entire days, and when reminded and attempted downright physically unpleasant.
In the coin-face of our relationship maybe my over eating as a response to mental unease was the perfect side to her under eating. I would over remind, understand and attempt to ease (meal substitutes etc.,). Conversely her apparent freedom from the binds of regular/routine eating (indeed I don't really eat meals anymore, a snack every fucking sad and weak hour of the day) was just the shot of strength my weakness needed. It's hard to be an over-eater in a family of over-eaters. We all have problems with this in my family, immediate at least, substance reliance of some kind prevails. S was a wonderful island apart from that.
Hey, of course our relationship is a hell of a lot more than this.
This is just one layer of icing on a superbly iced mountain of delectable cake. One complicated and glorious veil of mutual-acceptance and compatibility, on a heap of intricately woven tapestries.
I miss that understanding, that another, with a completely opposing take on food as defense mechanism, is nevertheless able to appreciate a real problem. It is this, these huge things, understanding and empathy despite differences, that make a sad and painful problem endurable, solvable eventually.
In Thursday's post I mentioned my weaknesses, an abundance of (common, universal) problems that I know need attending by me, myself and I, but that I find this excruciating without the aid of friends, love.
Yesterday I decided to have a juice day, just vegetable juice, no more than a liter, in an attempt to right my terribly agitated system, after a binge the previous day (which resulted from my attempting and failing to water fast to right the ills caused by the previous day's bingeing, and on and on and fucking on). No less than three times M forgot this (after my pathetic pleading and explaining how much support I need, and how much good it would do to my confidence and mood if I succeeded), at least three times he offered me food.
We went to Katowice to buy some materials for some paintings we're each planning, like a person with only impending death for company I pitifully think 'this will occupy me for a while' so I don't have to face my dark passenger. We went for coffee and I was actually worried they would give me a free biscuit even though it was an overpriced cuppa.
It was a miniature pie/tart, a darling little thing, mercifully filled with cow's cream. Not for my belly thanks.
Why am I sharing with you this crap? To illustrate how tedious and pathetic this unhealthy food attitude is and just how it might effect normal human functioning (also, long shot, but I'm hoping if I organise my thoughts and get all of this shit down then I might better get a handle on it, who knows?).
Going for a coffee, going bowling with M's parents, both swiftly ruined thanks to my stupid food addicted self.
Why should it though? Why should I be seeking comfort from food, or aggressively avoiding it, what is it? What am I longing for, or really avoiding?
Answering is more difficulty than I can muster for the moment. Over-sharing a great deal as it is, so, maybe the possible crux of my existence to follow tomorrow perhaps!
I am sharing a lot, and asking a lot too, this is me searching for support, for a soothing pat on the back when I'm feeling strong, to let me know I am, an encouraging nudge in my weaker times. If I can heal this, then maybe some other ends will tighten too.
I've tried support groups and chatrooms, but all I can find are tailored to Anorexia/Bulimia encouragement (thinspiration?! *shudder*) and obesity groups. I don't want to barge into the former and cause problems with my concern, or possibly be considered a piss taker in the latter. (- Because I know I'm not fat fat, but, it all starts somewhere, right?)
I've decided to try and photograph or keep a diary (the first is easiest, as someone who needs to really psych myself up for a daily shower at the moment, any commitment more than "click" a few times a day would be too extreme) of the things I eat. I've been doing it, but, since there's nobody seeing/expecting them, I just feel I have a pile of random food photos and all is muddled, no order, no point, I might as well not bother. Ideally I want a bloody personal physician/babysitter asking for updates daily and offering advice, support, kudos, and the rest.
Oh god I don't know, I don't think this is the right place for that, maybe the vomiting and self-loathing support should remain elsewhere or nowhere on the internet and I should save this space for the nitty gritty soul searching, self analysis, literary inspiration and photo-arts appreciation.
Maybe here I should just focus on the aforementioned questions "What am I longing for, or really avoiding?"
All I can answer tonight is, not this.