Monthly Archives: May 2015

Damaged 

I wish he knew me before I was damaged. I wish he had met me when I still believed in love stories and happily-ever-after – when I wasn’t jaded or bitter or calloused. I wish he could have known me when I loved without restraint, without holding back or guarding my heart. I wish I hadn’t given that part of myself to others or wasted it on the undeserving. I wish he could have known me before the wounds and hurts and heartaches overtook me; before the disappointments and let downs; before the abuse and neglect and rape. I wish he had known me before all this, when I wouldn’t have held back or demanded timelines or been harsh and unyielding. I wish he could see that I want to give him that, but I’m too scared. When he holds me in the night and soothes me and caresses me and my anxieties leave, I lean against his chest – my head upon his heart – and I know this is it. He is my epic love story and I am sabotaging it. I am giving him a hard time because I’m frightened he will not be true to his word – just like the others. Just like the others I am convinced he will mess me around, make me wait for nothing, damage me more. I am convinced in his difficult situation that we, that I, will not survive. I let it come between us because I cannot fight it. Instead I feel like I am fighting him – the one who loves me. He is paying for the sins of the ones who came before him. I wish I could look at him and tell him: I know. My heart knows. I have never been loved this way before. I love him so fiercely it terrifies me. I love his children and the family we have become. When I am not trying to run, I am happier than I have ever been before. When he holds me in the middle of the night as I cry in distress, conflicted, I know I am safe here. I need to remember that moment in all the other moments that overwhelm me. 

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Home Time Triggers

135lbs

I am one week away from going home. My goal was to be in the 120’s by then. It isn’t happening.

Going home is exciting and stressful all at the same time. Exciting because I get to see everyone, stressful because of finances and many other things. I will be gone for 5 weeks. I leave my boyfriend and children behind which will cause me anxiety. I go to be with my family which will also cause me anxiety. Nothing is as triggering as going back to the root of your eating disorder.

I love my family. I am overjoyed to see them. One of my oldest, bestest friends is getting married and I have the honour of being her bridesmaid. I am, of course, worried about being thin enough in my bridesmaid’s dress.

I am torn: torn by my boyfriend not being able to come with me and torn by my family who need me too. I drop out of one life and into another, worlds apart. It is emotionally overwhelming.

I cope by eating, or not eating. When I eat, I purge. By the time I leave next week, I will be beside myself. I will cry all the way there and on the way back, I will cry all the way here for different reasons.

I had firmly believed, that I would be going home engaged to my boyfriend. He told me he would give me a reason to come back and I thought that would be it. Part of me imagined he would surprise me by buying a last-minute ticket and coming with me, or just showing up back home. I know I am setting myself up for a massive heartache. There will be no engagement ring. There will be no surprise visit. When I get back from my trip in July and am bereft and lost and distressed, he is going away for a week with his kids. I will need him, but they will need him more. Some days I just have to accept that this is how it is.

The heart wants what it wants and right now I want to go home and never come back here. This is no fairytale. There is no happily-ever-after.

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Wedding Weekend

We went away for the weekend to a wedding for my boyfriend’s cousin. We had the children with us and all his family had traveled there. After a lot of drama involving the mother of his daughter (she thought that she should attend the wedding and I didn’t), we managed to go too.

Road trips are hard for people with eating disorders. There is no routine, there are few ‘safe’ foods and lots of triggers. I was already high on anxiety from the drama by the time we left. I anticipated someone in my boyfriend’s family would make a comment about the little girl’s mother or make one of their stupid pregnancy jokes in our direction. Before we even left, I was on guard and expecting it.

Nothing happened. Nobody said anything dumb. We had a great weekend. We stayed with friends and drank wine and took the kids swimming.

At the wedding I had my heart set on a slow dance with my boyfriend. It was all I wanted. The night went on and on with no chance of it happening as we chased the children around and spent time with his family. His daughter takes up all his time and attention. It is just the way it is. When she is around, his son and I barely get noticed. I had a feeling that I was setting myself up for disappointment by fixating on the one moment I really wanted: a slow dance in his arms.

I do it all the time by setting my heart on something: a romantic date, a weekend away together, him coming home with me to meet my family and of course, an engagement ring. I leave in a week. There is no chance now that I am going home with a ring on my finger.

As the night wore on, I ate more (pasta, potatoes, bread, lasagne – all good for anxiety relief) and drank more and eventually went to purge it all. When I came out of the washroom by boyfriend was standing there looking for me. He had been looking for me for some time.

“Where else would you expect to find me?” I replied in tipsy honesty.

“I should have guessed,” was his response.

Normal people would have been on the dance floor.

By the time he came to get me for the last dance of the evening, his daughter was half asleep on my lap. Her needs trump my needs. I wasn’t going to move a sleeping child so I could go dance. I went back to the hotel and cried in the bathtub instead.

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Reality -2, Expectations – 0

I imagined when I was so upset with my boyfriend that I cancelled our weekend away, that he would realize what he had done and make it up to me. It crossed my mind that he would think to book another chalet and take me away knowing how disappointed I was. If he didn’t do that, I thought at least he would plan a romantic date: dinner or drinks or a movie – something. Nope. Nothing.

Turns out I am stupider than I think.

Last night after work he messaged me on my way home to say he was out drinking but wouldn’t be too much longer. I came home and poured us both some wine. I set out a cheese plate and appetizers. I thought perhaps we would watch a movie and have a nice night in spite of my disappointment.

Three hours later with not a word from my boyfriend, I had purged all the food, drunk most of the wine and went to lie in the bath tub with my book. I eventually messaged him to make sure he wasn’t lying in a ditch. I got a drunken selfie in return. I put on my pajamas, turned off my phone and went to bed.

When he did come home in the middle of the night, 5 hours after he told me he wouldn’t be much longer, he made the mistake of turning on the bedroom light and flying across the room, leaping onto the bed. I woke up in fright, screaming. He landed on top of me laughing and it took me a minute to figure out what was going on. I pushed him away from me asking him what the f**k he thought he was doing. My heart was pounding from the shock.

The stupidity of his answer is almost as alarming as my stupidity, “I didn’t realize you were sleeping. I thought you were waiting up for me. I didn’t mean to scare you.” I know he is drunk. I roll over and try to sleep, but adrenaline is coursing through me. I am wide awake and unhappy. He falls asleep instantly, cozying up to me; one arm heavy over me which I keep trying to remove. He is snoring-farting-moaning in his alcohol induced stupor and I lie there in the dark thinking that there must be more to life than this.

***

The next morning he is sheepish. He thinks I am mad about the near heart failure he induced in me last night. He doesn’t seem to get that I am crushed by the weight of disappointment. He comes upstairs with flowers and coffee for me. He says he is sorry he was an asshole.

“I didn’t mean for last night to turn out that way,” he says

“I didn’t plan this weekend to turn out this way,” I respond as my tears run down and splash onto the Calla Lilies. I try to tell him that I don’t deal well with disappointment. He is mute – immune to my distress.

***

The weekend carries on as usual. We lie in bed and watch movies while it rains-sleets-snows outside. We eat. I purge. We eat again. I purge again.

He doesn’t mention any plans and I don’t ask.

Saturday comes and goes. Sunday comes and goes. On Monday he leaves to go shooting with his friend (ironically in the mountains where we would have been staying). I am angry-cleaning the house when he leaves, trying to scrub my frustration out of dirty counter tops and bathroom floors. I am meant to be relaxing in an outdoor hottub not scrubbing toilets on my hands and knees. He asks if I am ok. I tell him once again that I didn’t plan for the weekend to turn out this way.

“I know,” is all he says.

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Reality – 1, Expectations – 0

We were supposed to leave tonight for the long weekend. I had us booked into a log cabin in a more remote part of the mountains, far enough away to be secluded. It is perfect weather to be snuggled up in a wood chalet with a fire and a bottle of wine. I had longed for it, imagined it, anticipated it and planned it – down to the menu for the weekend. I had even fantasized that my boyfriend would take advantage of our first romantic getaway, and our last time together before I leave for 5 weeks, to propose to me.

Instead, my boyfriend is out drinking somewhere and I am home in my pajamas: bingeing, drinking, barfing and bathing. The bitter disappointment was too hard to swallow

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Check Up

Yesterday was a check up with my doctor at the ED treatment centre and a meeting with my case manager/counsellor.

I am weighing myself every day at home: 137lbs and not losing. Even after 2 days of not eating from being sick, the scale wouldn’t budge. After restricting then bingeing and purging for a while, the scale has refused to give. I stared in horror at the numbers and the scale stared back mercilessly. I am determined to lose at least 7lbs before I go home. I have 3 weeks.

The doctor and nurse did the medical part first: weighing (backwards of course), blood pressure lying and standing (cue dizziness on standing), heart rate, urine test and a review of my blood work. The doctor asked about why I had been in emergency this week (which you can read about in my last blog post). She asked if my eating had improved, worsened or stayed the same. I told her it was worsening. Then she asked if things were stable at home and I told her that that had worsened too.

She didn’t say much. She asked me to try eat more during the day. Just like that. As if it is easy and/or possible. “Try have a snack earlier than noon. Try eat something between ballet classes. Try to remember to eat after class before you drive home. Eat before the gym. Eat after the gym.”

Eat, eat, eat.

I do eat. That is my problem.

She asked if I had cut down on my alcohol consumption. I told her I had, drastically.

“Why?” she had to ask.

“I want to lose weight before I go home next month,” no point in lying about my real motives for giving up something I love.

“Is that the only reason you’ve cut down your drinking?”

I smile at her, “yes. I like to come home and drink. It takes the edge off the stress of the day and the fight with my boyfriend and crying children and whatever else ails me.”

She makes notes. She doesn’t respond.

After the medical, I met with my case manager. She asked about if my boyfriend was going to be part of my family therapy.

“Is this someone with whom you are going to be spending a large part of your life,” she enquired.

I nodded, “until last week I thought that was the plan. Now I am not so sure.”

We get into the fight we had. I tell her about my expectations and demands. I tell her about how I perceive my boyfriend to cope by avoidance.

“It seems he has a soft heart, that he is very loving,” she comments. I cannot disagree with her. “You will have to accept that he most likely won’t change. You will have to decide what you are willing to tolerate to be in this relationship. Ask yourself ‘do I love this man despite his circumstances. Am I willing to be with him, to choose to be with him knowing that this is how things are?'”

Sometimes if you shut up and listen, you learn things. She had some interesting perspective on our relationship. She confronted me about the “solutions” I offer my boyfriend when I put my foot down and demand boundaries. She reminded me that no one likes being told what to do by someone else all the time. She talked about how I was clear and straight forward and goal orientated. Isn’t everyone with an ED? Then she said this: “it seems to me that you are similar. He copes through avoidance and you do too with your eating disorder.” I had never looked at it that way. She talked about my pattern of self sabotage and of pulling the plug on relationships even when I love them. She said in that way I managed to avoid everything by ending things.

She gave me some things to think about. I feel like some introspection and soul-searching will go a long way to helping me change and grow in this relationship. I am not a nice person. I am intolerant and impatient. I have high expectations in a relationship. I am demanding. I am resentful and unforgiving. I thought yesterday how it would be to be my boyfriend, to be treated without grace for the past mistakes I had made. it was rather soul-destroying, the realization that I can treat someone I love so poorly.

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Emergency Room Frequent Flyer Program

I went to emergency on Tuesday…shocking, right? I have lost count of how many visits I have made this year. You would think I would start to do the maths on how much my ED is affecting my health and quality of life, but I am not smart if you remember correctly.

After the stress of last week’s fight with my boyfriend, I starved and binged and purged and drank. On Sunday I didn’t eat all day until the evening when I ate half a cauliflower (read a blog post about Cauliflower here – https://thefatballerinablogs.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/3097/ ) and cheesecake (from the boyfriend and kids for Mother’s Day). On Sunday night I started having sudden, stabbing pain in my lower, right abdomen. I ignored it and blamed it on my ED thinking it would go away after a while.

By Monday the pain was worse and spreading to my back. On top of that I had nausea, diarrhea, chills and dizziness. I went to work and was non-functioning. I couldn’t eat and was in and out of the bathroom all day. By the time I had to teach ballet, I could barely stand up. After one class, I called my boyfriend to pick me up and take me home. I spent the rest of Monday in bed in excuciating pain. At this point I just figured I had a stomach bug.

On Tuesday all the symptoms had gone except for the pain. When I stood up I was doubled over. By this time my boyfriend had read the entire internet and had come with all sorts of horrible diagnoses: miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy (he always thinks I am pregnant), gall bladder…the list went on. I had my appendix out 12 years ago, so that ruled out at least one thing. He dropped me off at emergency on his way to work and I spent the next 5 hours there.

My blood pressure was very low, my heart rate was very high. I was so dehydrated. The doctor ran tests: ultrasound, urine, blood. He was not convinced it was a stomach bug and was particularly concerned about my kidneys, given my recent history of recurring kidney infections. Everything came back negative (including the pregnancy test). I had told the doctor about my eating disorder when he asked for my medical history.

“Is that under control now?” he asked.

“No,” I explained why I had attributed that pain to my ED after the nightmare week I had. He noted it down, briefly and never referenced it again.

After pumping me full of pain meds and saline, he had no answer for what was wrong with me so he sent me home. The pain eventually ebbed after 2 days and I still don’t know what caused it. I was blown away by how unconcerned he was about my ED. When I saw my doctor at the ED treatment centre yesterday, she asked about my emergency visit. I rehashed all the details and told her it was inconclusive, that the doctor couldn’t figure it out.

She grunted, “really?” as she raised one eyebrow behind her glasses as she looked at me. She spared any further comments.

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The Aftermath

We “kissed and made up” as the saying goes. I don’t feel like we effectively resolved anything. We are back to our normal which means that nothing will change, but everything has changed and it can’t go back.

He carries on as he did before. I find myself questioning everything. Why give up a weekend to spend at his son’s lacrosse tournament when this man isn’t sure of how he will feel about me in a year? I looked at the house last night – a disaster as always – and I told him that they needed to clean it up because I wouldn’t. Why am I picking up after kids that aren’t mine when their dad won’t make a commitment to me?

I am loath to invest time or money or effort now that I know there is no timeline. I am withdrawing, pulling back, being selfish. I sleep in and let him get the kids dressed and ready for school by himself. I don’t do their laundry or pack their lunches. I want him to remember single parenting. I want him to realize what he has done and what he has lost in me when I stop doing all I did.

I am still hurt; wounded by words that cannot be retracted. The damage done is immense. It pervades every conversation. I have to keep reminding him that things are not what I thought they were. It’s as if he doesn’t even register the shift.

“Do you want to go look at a new car this weekend?” He asks.

“No. I think there is no point now. Perhaps when our situation is more stable. I will reassess in a few months and then think about it,” is my response. I have said quite frankly, that I made the decision to go look at a new car prior to our discussion when I believed that we were in a more secure position than what we are.

I went to see the ED counsellor and doctor for a check up as part of the program I am in. He asked about it at coffee.

“Am I supposed to be coming to some of these with you?” He seems stunned that I have been to several appointments that he does not know about because I didn’t bother telling him.

“Yes you are supposed to take part in a few things, but I told my case manager that I’ve had new information since the time I brought you with and that things have changed. I told her not to plan on you being part of this anymore,” I am as blunt as I can be. This is not a part of myself I am going to share with someone who is vague about our future. He looks hurt. He says “oh” and I leave it at that.

He brings up the long weekend. We were supposed to go away for our romantic holiday together which I canceled the morning after our fight. He hasn’t asked about it or referenced it since. It’s like he is immune to how disappointed I was after I had been looking forward to it so much. He hasn’t even acknowledged that I canceled it and how devastated I am about it. He is nonchalant.

“What do you want to do for the long weekend? Do you want to make any plans?” He asks, like nothing happened and he didn’t ruin a perfectly good weekend for nothing.

“What I wanted to do went down in flames,” I respond calmly. “I no longer care what happens this weekend.”

Another, “oh…ok”.

He doesn’t get it. Why would he?

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Expectations 

  

The moment I was so sure was not going to happen, happened. My boyfriend left to collect the kids from their moms and didn’t even ask me if I wanted to go with. Before he came home he mesaaged me to meet him in the kitchen in about ten minutes. That’s when I knew something was up.

I had gone to nap earlier in the afternoon, so distressed that I had not been acknowledged on Mothers Day. He came to bed to cuddle me and I told him that after the week we had, I needed him to talk to me. I told him I was still reeling from the hurt and felt an emotional disconnect between us. So he talked and I cried and 3 hours later we were still lying there in each other’s arms. I felt like that conversation went a long way to closing the chasm between us. Still he didn’t say one word about Mother’s Day. 

I resigned myself to the fact that it was not going to happen because I am not officially their step mom. 

Cue two hours later: he come home with the children, flowers, a card and cheesecake. The children hugged me and kissed me and I dissolved into tears. His son asks why I was crying and I tried to tell them they were happy tears. He threw his arms around me. They sat on me lap and helped me unwrap the flowers. The writing in my card read “you feel like my mom”.  

We had a family dinner and ate our cheesecake (which I haven’t purged). My boyfriend told me that he had been working on the surprise for a while. I told him that I had been waiting all day for some acknowledgement and had given up. He told me he was just waiting for the children because at the end of the day I will be their step mom and they needed to be there. Then he said, “I’m much better when there are no expectations”. 

I’ve been told before that my expectations are too high. That they are too high for myself and for others. I felt awful. I wished he had just hinted this morning at something coming later in the day, to allay my fear that on a day that celebrates mothers, I would not be acknowledged as one by the man who’s children I love. 

I still feel bad, guilty for expecting it. It is true that expectation is the root of all heartache. Perhaps I need to stop expecting anything. 

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Mother’s Day For Non-Mothers

Today is my first official “unofficial” mother’s day. I say “unofficial” because my partner and I are not married so technically I am not a step mother. I say official because in the last 10 months it has been full on mothering for me to his two kids.

I have not been acknowledged either way by him today. The kids are with their mothers, obviously, even though it is our weekend with them. I realize I will face a life time of not sharing this day with them. My partner kissed me goodbye this morning when he left to go watch his son’s lacrosse game. He said, “if you speak to your mom tell her happy mother’s day from me.” He has never met my mother, but he thought to acknowledge her. He didn’t say anything to me. I didn’t get any expression of thanks or acknowledgement for the mothering I do to his kids.

I don’t know what I was expecting really. Last weekend some friends were over having dinner with us and my girlfriend said, “now you get to celebrate mother’s day”. I looked at my boyfriend and I said, “I don’t think he knew that.” My girlfriend ignored my comment and said, “no, you’re a mom now. You celebrate mother’s day.”

I know we get the kids back some time this evening. Part of me wonders if it will cross my boyfriend’s mind to do anything. Flowers? A card? I don’t know, does Hallmark make “step mother” mother’s day cards for women who aren’t officially step mothers? Part of me feels like if he does do anything it will only be because my girlfriend brought it up last weekend and said he had to. I feel caught in the middle. I do not get to not mother the children because there is no ring on my finger. I can’t refuse to change dirty diapers or hold sick children or feed them or take care of them or bath them or dress them or play with them or love them because there is no ring on my finger. I have to mother them regardless. And I choose to mother them because I want to. Who can not look at a child and love them? Who can not want to take care of a child even if it is not biologically theirs? It is not possible to look at them and not feel a bond to them after all this time. Every day that I am with this man, I make a conscious decision to love him and his children. It has not been easy. This week in particular has been the hardest one to continue to make that choice in the light of no forthcoming committment from him.

So this post is for the unofficial mothers. The ones who have made a choice to love other women’s children. The ones who are not recognized or acknowledged or appreciated for what they do. The ones that are reviled and hated by the biological moms instead of thanked. The ones who sacrifice themselves for children that will never call them “mum”. The ones who do everything that a mother does, which in my opinion makes you a mother. It seems the more I delve into step motherhood that the more obvious it is that people only acknowledge you as part of the mum club if you have been impregnated and pushed a child out of your vagina. I know biology is the least of what makes a mother a mother.

***

I got up, alone, skyped my mother in Africa. I poured my coffee and left for church. I had wanted my boyfriend to come to church with me today, but he chose to go to his son’s 5th lacrosse game this week. It seems fitting that he spent part of mother’s day with the mother of his son whom he is still officially married to.

I came home from church wondering if there would be anything. There was nothing. No flowers, no card, no present. The house is a mess, kids stuff everywhere, my boyfriend was sleeping upstairs. He asked how church was. He asked if I had spoken to my mother. He didn’t say a word about doing something special today or ask what I might like to do. I know I am waiting for some token acknowledgement that won’t happen or will be meaningless by the time it happens hours from now and is a fleeting moment he did out of obligation. He has had a whole day to look at me and say the words I long to hear “thank you for mothering my children”.

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