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The Goldilocks Planet…and a bit of radio in-between!

on August 7, 2012

My Dad…he is a bit like marmite to me. I have spent most part of my life either loving him or hating him. Our relationship has run a rocky path at times, and there have been moments when I have wondered whether it would be less painful not to have him in my life at all, but blood is thick. My parents separated when I was young, and like so many children I have grown up wishing that I had a 2.4 family type scenario. My dad has always been in my life, and we have always been in regular contact, but the difficulties surrounding my step-mum have made our relationship very hard. For more than twenty years, I have never understood why my step-mum seemingly dislikes me so much. I have spent years striving to be the ‘good’ girl in order to be accepted by her. Last year after relapsing, I went to my dad’s for three months. It was only meant to be for two weeks to help re-feed me, but as soon as I got there, I had this over-riding need to be with him for longer. I reverted back to being a child, to the time when he left. I was desperate to try and recapture some of the years I had missed out on. My step-mum was not so keen to have me around, nor was my half-sister, so ultimately it was a very difficult experience. I appreciate that living with an eating disorder can be incredibly testing, frustrating and painful to deal with, so I appreciate the help she did give me whilst I was there, but I can’t help fantasising that if she could only accept me for who I am – my dad’s daughter, then it could all be so different.

Yesterday was a classic example of how my eating disorder ‘saved’ me from my feelings of pain and rejection. No need to document the detail, but as so often happens my dad was in the position of ‘managing’ a situation between my half-sister, my step-mum and me. I felt hurt, angry and rejected at what had happened, so my immediate thought turned to food, and how I must punish myself. By restricting I can numb the pain and focus my attention onto something other than dealing with what is going on. Food is something that people use not only to survive, but to gain pleasure from. My unhealthy self repeats the same rhetoric whenever a painful situation arises – “you don’t deserve to eat something nice now, you are not good enough, you are only good at restricting your food”. Over the years I have felt a lot of anger and sadness towards my dad for allowing my step-mum to control him, but I have realised that no one can be controlled unless they allow it. I am learning to accept this and choose to share my love and time with those who share theirs with me. I hope that in the months to come I can find the strength to stop trying to gain her acceptance and to simply concentrate on the relationship I have with my dad.

One of the things I love about him is his vast knowledge of news and current affairs. Over a drink, we ended up discussing the landing of Nasa’s ‘Curiosity Rover’ which arrived on Mars yesterday. We were debating whether it was possible for life to be anywhere else other than earth. For those of you who are remotely interested my dad explained to me why earth is commonly referred to as a “Goldilocks planet”.

In the story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” a little girl named Goldilocks liked everything just right. Her porridge couldn’t be too hot or too cold. And her bed couldn’t be too hard or too soft. On Earth, everything is just right for living things. It’s warm, but not too warm. And it has water, but not too much water.” As a child I loved the tale of Golidlocks and the Three Bears, and as my dad was explaining why earth is described in this way, I thought – I am just like Goldilocks! I like everything in my life to be “just right” and when it’s not, I struggle to cope. The reality is that life is not always perfect and I can not continue to use my anorexia as a way to deal with it, when it isn’t.

We had a wonderful morning together enjoying the sights of London, especially the church mouse that shared our service in St Paul’s cathedral! But as the clock edged closer to him leaving, I began to well up inside. I dread having to say goodbye. We shared some fun times together in the months I stayed with him last summer, and it allowed me to understand him more. I no longer doubt his love for me and I love him very much. In some ways we are very similar, our love of nature and history, but also our need to be in control and ordered. As I stood on the platform to say goodbye I felt the child in me reignite. At 30 years old, I am well aware that my deep-rooted need to be loved by him is something that I will need to re-balance whilst in treatment.

And so to the bit in-between. A lovely man, who you might know called Jeremy Vine gave me an opportunity to share my experience of anorexia on national radio. I had a swarm of butterflies inside of me, but I managed to limit my blubbing to only twice throughout the interview. My biggest fear was not being able to sound articulate enough and not too crazy! I have been totally overwhelmed by the response that I have had from people all around the world. A girl of 14 contacted me to say that she no longer feels alone from listening to me. I feel so touched, and I never imagined that I would receive such wonderful comments. To know that I may of helped someone else feel a little less alone has given me great comfort. Beating an eating disorder demands man-power so if I have encouraged anyone to seek help, no matter how small that help might be, then I am truly grateful to Jeremy for giving me that chance. Many of those who have got in touch have commended me for having the courage to talk about my eating disorder. Whilst I feel very humble, there are many people all over the world suffering and fighting, not just an eating disorder, but many other mental illnesses. I feel a bit of a fraud in claiming the bravery award – anyone who gets up each day and marches into battle deserves to be recognised.

It’s still quite strange to be writing so openly about my feelings. It is by no means meant to be a self-seeking exercise, I am merely better at writing how I feel than articulating it verbally. The main reasoning behind my blog is that for so long I felt as though I was the only one who thought the way I did, and that I wasn’t trying hard enough to get better. If you suffer from an eating disorder I would like you to know that you are not on your own, it is not your fault and there are people who can help. Eating disorders are so complex, that it is often hard for the patient to fully convey what they are thinking and feeling, which I believe has led to many misconceptions and misunderstandings of the illness. Some members of my own family, and indeed friends have told me that from reading my thoughts, they are now able to comprehend how an anorexic mind works.

I would like to thank everyone who has read my blog and written such heart-warming messages. I will do my best to get back to you all over the coming weeks, but please bare with me as I may not be able to access a computer so frequently whilst I am in California. Each and everyone has given me the strength to continue my journey into recovery. My friends and family also deserve a mention, as without them I wouldn’t of got this far. Knowing that I have such an amazing amount of people here when I return, is helping to ease the anxiety of going away.

Me and my Pappa x

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8 responses to “The Goldilocks Planet…and a bit of radio in-between!

  1. Amy says:

    Just listened to you on iplayer! You were fantastic!! Totally eloquent, very moving and your blubbing set me off so i was lucky I wasn’t listening it to it at work…

  2. arkay67 says:

    Laura, I think you’re absolutely amazing. I’ve just listened to the Jeremy Vine interview on iPlayer and I can’t tell you how moved I was. Like the lady said ‘you WILL get better’! You’re so strong and brave. You have so much to look forward to.
    The four legged friends I can’t wait to see a healthier, happier you when you come back. Meantime, we’ll be following you all the way. Rebecca. xxxxx

  3. You are amazing Laura and your blog is totally brilliant. You have helped inspire so many people to get better and I know you can beat it. I did it and so can you. Are you on twitter? I am @mirandasmurmurs . Sending you so much love xxxx

  4. jas says:

    Iplayered the interview sooo moving and made me 20 mins late for work as got too in to it x well do.e Laura we are all supporting u x

  5. Claire Daly says:

    My 16 year old daughter, Sophie, has anorexia and I recognised many of your comments from the things that she tells me. Only those really close to anorexia understand that it’s not a choice, not a vanity issue about size and that ‘simply eating more’ isn’t an option. My daughter, like you, is incredibly brave and is emotionally exhausted by her daily battle to fight her anorexic demons. I wish you well Laura. My daughter has a blog for ‘the Pebble Garden’, a fundraising project she is currently working on in memory of her twin sister who died just before Louise and Sophie were 6. Have a look at it if you have a chance it is http://www.thepebblegardenproject.blogspot.co.uk. Sophie has painted some pebbles for fellow sufferers ‘believe’ for the sufferer because you need to believe in yourself and ‘hope’ for the sufferers main carer (usually the mother but not always) because the carer needs hope that things will get better and also because Sophie says that I represent hope for her and the hope of a proper life. I would like to send a’ believe’ and a’ hope’ pebble to you. If that would be ok, please send a private message on facebook to The Pebble Garden with an address and I will post them to you. Wishing you lots of strength, belief, hope and love. Claire.xxx

  6. Sally says:

    You were inspiring on Jeremy vine. I work in an eating disorders unit and it has opened my eyes to a whole different view on life. I hope you find help in California if not we’d love to have you come visit. All the best x

  7. Sophie Thomas says:

    Hello Laura, I just wanted to let you know that as an anorexia sufferer I am inspired by your courage to fight. I think you are really brave, whatever you say about the bravery badge it takes a lot to talk about anorexia. I don’t really know how to attach words to my ideas properly to explain what I want to say, but I don’t feel so alone anymore. Thank you so much, I wish you all the best in California. Love and hugs xxxx

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