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The Million Dollar Question ???

on August 22, 2012

Over the weekend we went to the beach, but I wasn’t allowed to actually walk – just sit. This annoyed me… a lot! I love nothing more than to walk along the shore, as I used to with my Mum and Michael on our holidays in Spain. I found it particularly excruciating because we were at there with clients from the other eating disorders clinic. There are 12 clients there, 6 more than here, and there were some scary sights. I feel guilty about saying it, but I was repulsed, scared, angry and frightened, all at the same time. Repulsed because they looked hideous, scared because seeing someone so emaciated is just frightening, and angry because my unhealthy self told me I was a bad anorexic. This is something that has constantly niggled me over the years. The message I’ve received in the UK has largely been that I would need to lose a considerable amount of weight than more than at present, to be deemed ‘sick’ enough to need adequate help. This message only fuels a highly competitive mindset that thrives in anorexia. Being able to restrict my food is something I am good at. Seeing someone who is better at being thin triggers my anger. My healthy self realises that this is obviously a sick and crazy way of thinking –  I tell myself that there are no medals for the person who gets to the lowest weight, and it won’t be an achievement to be proud of when I am 6ft under. I shared it with several therapists and my peers. They said my perception of what I look like is more than a bit squiffy… I do agree that perhaps I am not the best person to make a healthy comparison, so I need to let go of the anger, concentrate on my own recovery and talk back to the terrorist that wants to find anything it can to attack me. I will endeavour to show compassion to others who are also being held by the terrorist.

Something that has frustrated me more than anything is not understanding why I still continue to do what I do. Several of the therapists have spoken about the large amount of insight and self-awareness I have of my illness. Over the course of 12 years, I have become somewhat of an expert in my ‘field’. I am not in denial, I know all the cunning tricks that my illness tries to get away with. I am aware I manipulate those around me and even kid myself that I am doing well.  I am frustrated with myself for not being able to “sort it out”. I have oodles and oodles to to write on my gratitude list, and I have a life that is worth fighting for. Yet depsite all this knowledge, I am unable to do the simplest of tasks – feed myself adequately. It has been said that I ’talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk’ and I couldn’t agree more.
This is what scares me the most about being ‘me’. I know so much about my anorexia, yet am unable to apply it – perhaps I really am a hopeless case? I refer to it as ‘The Million Dollar Question.’ I have asked it so many times, as have those around me – frustrated with the constant roller-coaster ride. During my session my therapist told me that I do not need to know why, I may never know why I do what I do, but that does not mean that it’s too late or too hopeless to start the process. If I wait for the answer before embarking on recovery, I could be waiting forever. As someone very dear to me once said. “It’s deeds not words”. I need to take action and ‘fake it to make it’.
During my food and feelings group, I was asked what happens to me when I get to the dining table. Why do the tears start and why am I unable to participate in the conversation. I had to really think about this, and I’m still not entirely sure, but this is what came to mind. Eating is not just about fueling your body, it’s a social activity that gives people pleasure. Something that is enjoyed and shared amongst others. I have largely eaten my food in isolation. No-one would want to eat the bland food I prepare for myself, and I am too fearful to eat something someone else has cooked. There are many reasons, why I am struggle, but I am realising that I do not allow myself pleasure in eating. To talk at a meal would be to allow myself to engage in an enjoyable activity. Whenever I talk about my step-father and his sudden death, the tears cascade. If I deny myself pleasure with food (and other things), I am repenting for not being able to apologise to him, for not showing and telling him how much I loved him. By punishing myself, I can let him know just how much he meant to me. During a group last night, Julia, one of the therapists suggested that perhaps I could try to show myself forgiveness, and by taking care of myself, I can show appreciation towards Michael. I can only pay tribute to him, if I am well. He was a man of strong morals and principles and some of them used to really get on my nerves as a teenager. I can hear him now… “Turn the lights when you leave the room, put your slippers on when you walk across the kitchen floor”. His love of Frank Sinatra, irritated me – I thought it was old people’s music! Now I would love nothing more than to listen to him with Michael. On our holidays to Spain, my mum and Michael would sit for ages after the meal, drinking coffee, which bored me stupid. The only bit I liked was warming his brandy cup in my hand. Now I would happily spend hours talking over coffee with him. He would spend hours at the swimming pool side with me, perfecting my dive and again watching me on the trampolines, where I would shout.. “Michael did you see my somersault.” The sad truth is some of us only truly appreciate what we have/had when it’s gone. All the little things that used to irritate me, I do automatically now… the lights, slippers, Frank Sinatra – he is living inside me all the time, I hope that I can reach a point where I can learn to forgive myself and stop punishing myself with food. At the moment this seems a distant wish, but I have not given up hope, and I am in the best place to believe it may be possible. 

3 responses to “The Million Dollar Question ???

  1. Muriel says:

    I have read this with great interest. I knew Michael well and he loved you all, warts an all. He would only want the very best for you. To see you happy and fulfilled. You were a teenager at the time and we all think what our elders do is boring. Laura you are the same as us all. Michael certainly did not love you any less.let him see what a loving, courageous and special person you can do this Laura with his and nanny’s help. Much love x

  2. Louise says:

    Hey Laura, as I am about to embark on one of life’s great adventures I wanted to say : most important thing of all is that you work out that you deserve to be happy. you deserve a good life.
    If you keep doing the same things, the same things will keep happening. Change things one step at a time. Each day you do one thing just slightly differently you are on your way to changing everything.
    much love. if you want something enough, you can get it. it s just a bit hard sometimes. x

  3. Lou says:

    Hi Lolly. You have moved me to tears…i admire how brave u are to share ur feelings. I still want to hug u sweetheart. I am following ur story but like i always say to Lizzie…myself n many others will walk this path with u along side u, many hands heres for u if u need to hold on. Thinking of u n sending lots of luv n hugs xxxxx

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