Category Archives: Addiction

Overheard

I was standing in line at the DMV and the lady next to me was renewing her license. She was asked to look over her information.

“It’s correct except I don’t weigh 50kgs anymore.”

My ears started flapping, but I prevented myself from turning to stare at her. No one wants to be gawked at like a freak on a Tuesday afternoon.

“Ok how much do you weigh now?”

“I think, maybe 60kgs?”

She doesn’t look self conscious. She doesn’t giggle shyly or hang her head ashamed. No one can say for sure, but to an onlooker it seems like she gained 10kgs and that is just fine. Normal. Unremarkable. Not noteworthy.

I have never put my correct weight on my driver’s license. I always lowball – within REASON.

At ballet school we were taught to subtract 10lbs from our actual weight when asked for an audition. As a rule of thumb I have continued to do this because it seems REASONABLE. Reasonable to lie about my weight because no number is ever really acceptable.

Today I went to get a cup of coffee in the mall and a shop employee was hob nobbing with the barista. No one can say for sure, but she looked like she was afflicted with the rex. I had admired her skeletal like arms as she handed me my coffee with trembling hands and a smile that lit up her pale, hollowed out face.

The shop employee was showing the barista his lunch. She looked at it like a maniac. Like she was fascinated and revolted at the same time.

“I’m not going to eat all of it now,” he informed her and her co-coffee worker. “I guess I’m telling you so that you don’t laugh at my fat ass.”

The other barista comments on how she likes to tell herself she will save food for later and then eats it all in one sitting instead. I’m stirring my coffee slowly, deliberately eavesdropping.

The rexy barista hasn’t moved. She is in the same spot still transfixed by this lunch that has wandered in to high jack her shift.

He gets his coffee from skinny and skinnier behind the espresso machine and looks at his lunch with unbridled delight.

“I’m only 15lbs away from my goal weight anyway.”

I pick up my coffee and stroll out into the banal abyss of mall. I take my extra 15 pounds of “baby” weight with me. My extra 15 pounds of sleepless nights, more calories for breastfeeding, anxiety, bad day with the babies, hormonal, postpartum, non exercising excuses, sneaky glasses of wine and a few too many chocolate binges of baby weight.

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Undefined

I am triggered by everything:

A photo of dancers I used to idolize when I was 16 and starving, desperate to be even half as skinny as they were and still are. I scroll past them. My brain does a double take. I back track. I scrutinize their emaciated arms, their collar bones, their sunken cheek bones. They are all smiles, superior in their anorexia, mocking me. Twenty years have gone by and they are still thinner than thin.

I see my reflection in an unsafe mirror…so that’s what thighs and hips and stomachs look like after two babies in quick succession – well mine anyway. A vast, mass of undefined lard, rolling and oozing and overflowing, fleshy like raw dumplings, doughy like unbaked bread, ever expanding…never ending. Never ceasing to amaze me in horror to fascinate me as I stare. “Is that really me?” I don’t recognize myself, this untamed, unmanageable, out of control lump. I don’t fit into my clothes or my brains neatly, compartmentalized boxes: bulimic ballerina has been replaced with fat stay-at-home-mum. Fat, frumpy, fleshy, unfit to be a mother or an anorexic.

I read an ED memoir a friend lends me. I stop. I put it away on a shelf where I cannot see it. I pick it back up a week later. It makes me remember that I used to purge just as easily as I breathed. After this long, would I even notice if it crept back in? If I slipped a couple of times that were more intentional than unintentional? After all, there are days where I seamlessly substitute my calories as I go. Latte? No, americano. Vegan mayo? No, mustard. Salad dressing? Not necessary. More pasta? No, more veggies. Two slices of toast? No, three quarters of one slice is more than enough for breastfeeding two babies. I shake so much, so often from hunger. I don’t get any thinner.

I don’t want to think of the other bad days where I unintentionally eat two muffins instead of one. When I eat half a bag of chocolate chips and then wonder why I’m carrying this “baby weight” 7 Months later. I’m surprised when these things happen. Half a packet of digestive biscuits later I am unsure where I went wrong. But I’ve never pretended to know so why start now?

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Hello From Both Of Us

245491-fetus-ultrasoundAfter a little hiatus, I have decided to write again. I am pregnant again and have made it to the second trimester, so we are sharing our news with everyone. After the miscarriage, this pregnancy seemed tenuous and frought with anxiety. There was nothing anyone could say to put my mind at ease that this baby would stay with me on earth.

In November we discovered some medical complications that resulted in a surgery. The last 2 months have been a whirl of hospital visits: surgeons, radiologists, obstetricians, enodcirnologists, nurses, doctors and of course myriad tests: ultrasounds, x-rays, MRIs, blood tests, weight, blood pressure, heart rate…

The list goes on, but nothing measured the anguish and suffering in the mother’s heart.

Today I am recovering from surgery which went well. Baby is thriving from what we can see on ultrasounds. Through all of this, I have continued in the ED recovery program where I see a case manager, medical doctor, nutritionist, psychologist and occupational therapist. As much as I want this child more than anything in this life, I cannot describe the distress of gaining weight as someone with an eating disorder.

Since we confirmed the pregnancy, I have not once binged, purged, restricted or over exercised. The desire is there constantly, but I felt that I could not do that to my unborn child and live with the consequences. It is strange that not taking care of myself has never concerned me, but I cannot hurt my unborn child by continuing with my ED.

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I only feel good when I am drinking or eating. I have been drinking excessively every night since I left home a month ago. I have been restriciting a bit, bingeing a bit, purging a bit. I have finally gone back to gym to try get off some of the weight I have gained. I eat at work to ease my anxiety, I rush home to find a bottle of wine or rum or gin and to cry myself to sleep. I know I am depressed. I only want to eat until I feel nothing, to drink until I pass out.

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Words of wisdom from a friend. 

  

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The “V” Gene

“Hello giant,” a coworker greets me at ballet. I am wearing some sky scraper heels and trying unsuccessfully to hide the 10lbs I have gained since June.

“Please don’t remind me that I have giant genetics,” I implore him.

“Oh you have the “V” gene,” he says giving me a salacious look. “V for voluptuous”

My jaw drops in horror.

“Don’t say that to her,” another co-worker interrupts. “She thinks voluptuous means ‘fat’.”

Well we all know that’s what it means.

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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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You can get away with a lot when you label things. I met my boyfriend’s family at Thanksgiving and was nervous about the food situation. When you say you are vegan or vegetarian you can hide a lot of disordered behaviour. On top of that,  I always explain about my hypothyroidism and the need to watch my calorie intake. It works like a charm. No one questions my obviously bizarre attitude to food.

On the first morning Heath’s mom suggested that we take the kids to McDonalds for breakfast. My heart started pounding and I could feel the anxiety rising. When we got there he looked at me and asked if I would eat anything. I shook my head and shot him a pleading look not call attention to it. He is so good that he just goes along with everything and doesn’t make a big deal of it.

Later in the day when I was doubled over from starvation, I told him I had to have celery.

“I love celery.” I said without even thinking about the stupidity of the statement.

He laughed, “No you do not!”

We went to the farmers’ market and were given a free muffin each to sample. Without even batting an eyelid, Heath held his hand out for the muffin he knew I did not want. I gave it to him and he pocketed it. No one even saw it happen.

At dinner he tried to help me navigate the vegetables that had been cross contaminated with meat or drowned in butter and sugar. There was nothing safe to eat. I wonder if my panic was obvious.

For the actual Thanksgiving meal, they decided on Raclette and not turkey which was not good for me. I am dangerous around melted cheese on anything. I ate with abandon. I knew after two bites that I would be purging the meal immediately. I drank most of a bottle of wine to help the process. I made an excuse to my boyfriend and went downstairs to throw up. The house was so busy and loud that I am sure no one even noticed.

At one point Heath’s dad talked about my “healthy” eating of fruits and veggies and I went into a detailed explanation of my vegetarianism and hypothyroidism. He marveled at my ability to eat so little then said that all I was waiting for is to get married and then I would eat everything I can see and weigh 400lbs. It has become the running family joke. It is funny because it will never happen and they don’t know why.

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