This is how I wake myself up:
I have been back nearly two weeks. They have been a blur of emotions and days and I cannot quite recall them in minute detail.
I have existed: gone through the motions, done what’s expected of me at work or home.
I have not eaten. I have eaten too much. I am now full of emptiness; of leavings and longings and loss.
In the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep (too scared to close my eyes, too numb to keep them open), I wandered into the kitchen in my underwear and started foraging for food.
The sight of my mostly naked body was simply an annoyance. Instead of halting me, it spurred me on. I made pasta without thinking about it. I could have gone to sleep hungry, but instead I started looking for comfort in carbohydrates, for happiness in the bubbling tomato sauce and for love in the soft, melting cheese. I let it caress my insides with warmth. I let it soothe me. I ate sitting on the floor with my fat rolling out around my panties and bra, cushioning the agony, shielding me from the dying sensation that will not leave me alone.
I sobbed into some wine. I wailed in a bubble bath. Tears and snot and mascara mingling with the grimy water, dull as my soul.
I am a tomb of nothingness.
I went to the hospital to have a cyst removed last week (yes, another hospital trip). The doctor looked like a mad scientist: matted, sticky out hair, retro glasses, bad teeth all complete with lab coat and stethoscope.
He was just as odd as he looked, but completely harmless. He asked a barrage of questions while examining me. They always go in the same direction: where are you from, what do you do etc. Both usually stump people. Once he knew that I taught ballet he went on a long, eccentric, meandering soliloquy about ballet. Out of nowhere he looked at me, “did you have bulimia?”
I looked startled. I realized I had nothing to lose by telling him the truth. “Yes. I did.”
“Ah, but you’re better now? You’re alright.” I couldn’t tell if he was asking a question or stating a fact.
“I’m fine,” was all I replied. I don’t look sick so why would I explain to him that I am still purging regularly and restricting when I am not overdoing the “healthy” eating or the wine-free-for-all diet.
“Bulimia…it can kill you,” he muses shaking his head. “That will kill you.”
We go to the wedding today. I wear 2 different outfits: one to the ceremony and one to the reception. I don’t eat all day so that I might look vaguely acceptable (to myself or perhaps some passers by). My boyfriend doesn’t look at me, or notice me, or comment on my apprearance. Given the horrible things he said a few days ago when I was trying on dresses for this event, maybe it is a blessing – you know the kind they say come in “disguise”.
I starve and I primp and I preen. I paint my face and curl my eyelashes and spritz and tease and my legs are tanned and my collar bones are glittered. I brush and comb and fuss and tuck and pin and change and inspect and criticize and adjust and ruefully accept the outcome. We arrive at the ceremony and he says a blanket “you guys looks snazzy” to all 3 of us. Snazzy…the epitomy of compliments. The truth is he only has eyes for his daughter. When she is around, his son and I cease to exist. I get compliments from his friends at the wedding. Complete strangers talk to me in the washroom telling me they like my dress or hair. One woman hugs me and uses the word “gorgeous”. My boyfriend barely acknowledges me. He is disconnected, preoccupied and I am just the maid who had fed and cleaned and dressed and delivered his children to him while he has been drinking with his friends.
He takes his daughter “for a walk” which is code for calling her mother. I sit at a table for ten fat, repulsive and alone, staring into my appetizer, looking for love. After the briefest pretense I walk away from the table and in my high heels and lace and pearls and curls, I toss back up the disappointment. There is not enough wine to soothe my discontented soul.
His daughter is sick and whiny. She takes up all our attention. There is no time for “us”. There is no hand holding. There is no smiling into each other’s eyes. There is no dancing at this wedding. I hold her and she fidgets, unhappy. He holds her. She cries for cupcakes. No matter what we do, she is fractious. We are home by 10:09pm on a Saturday night. I wanted to slow dance in his arms and dream of our wedding which we both know (but won’t acknowledge) will never happen. The kind of things you do when you are only 9 months into a relationship. I wanted the overflow of love and happiness from this union to flood out hearts. But there are children to take care of and his stomach is upset by the Indian food (which I hear about in graphic, unromantic detail), so we go home. I pour myself wine in the kitchen, take out the flower from my hair while my boyfriend puts his daughter to bed. His woefully neglected son comes to me in the kitchen and tells me that he feels like we don’t love him. I wrap my arms around him knowing exactly what that feels like and hating myself for not being able to stop him from feeling it too.
The long weekend; our first valentines day; a trip to a mountain resort: I end up in hospital – again. Last weekend was my fourth trip to emergency in as many months for the same kidney problem that no one seemed to be able to get to the bottom of. The boyfriend and I, (who are now living together for anyone who cares), took the kids and went away. Everything should have been perfect except I spent 7 hours on valentines day in the hospital. I was distressed until the nurse gave me a “bottle of wine” through my IV (morphine) and leaned on my bed to chat with me and cheer me up.
I followed up with my doctor and had my IUD removed when we got back to town. The kidney pain was gone within a couple of hours. It was in for 2 weeks when the first bout of kidney problems started. It took me until January to ask the doctor if it could be the IUD causing the recurring problems and she told me it wasn’t. I did more research online and it seems that many women have recurring UTIs with and IUD. Having fragile kidneys it didn’t take much to upset them.
The one positive, if we are counting it as a positive, is that I haven’t binged and purged in 2.5 months. Now I feel the urge to get back to my ED knowing that it didn’t f**k my kidneys up this time.
2014 started off with so much despair. I left home, leaving my family behind, which took me months to recover from. I was rattled and ready to leave the country. I questioned my life here and once again was stuck between staying or giving up everything I have worked so hard for. I never know which one is right. I dropped out of the ED 12 step program I had been in and once again was purging and overexercising and losing the weight I had gained in “recovery”.
In the summer I started dating my now boyfriend. Having met eight years ago, this was sudden and unexpected. Despite dealing with a lot of anxiety over our relationship and the many complications that go along with dating a man with children, I ended the year with hope. We kissed each other at midnight on New Year’s Eve, tears of happiness trickling down both our faces.
The last few months were not free of ED, despite the happiness I felt, and because of it, I have been very sick. Anyone who suffers from ED knows that everything is a trigger in a relationship. Even now, at peace with the situation and in love, I am not free of anxiety. It is something us ED sufferers contend with on a level no one can understand. I have tried to explain to my boyfriend what it is like. In the last two weeks I ran the gamut of emotions: breaking up with him although I didn’t want to, staying with him, not knowing which was right in the circumstances. A lot of it is rooted in my anxiety which overwhelms everything. After we finally talked on the weekend I felt peaceful. It doesn’t mean I don’t still have moments of anxiousness or fear. For the past few days, I have just wanted to be held, to hold on to him and not let go, now that my heart has decided. He has been there for me; my rock. Holding me in the night when I start to panic, pulling me close and wrapping his arms around me. The other day, I imagined a life free of ED with this man, being healthy enough to enjoy that life together. It was a beautiful thought.
I am looking at 2015 with all the hope we have for that life together. This year has started very differently to the last one. Long may it continue.
My mother warned me when I was young that my ED would cause my kidneys to fail.
I’m scared. I went to hospital again on Tuesday for the same kidney infection that I have had since October. Despite IV antibiotics, this is the third time in as many months that I am being treated for the same thing. It won’t go away and I don’t know why. I am wait listed to see a specialist and in the mean time, I keep getting sick and it is terrifying.
Last time I was in hospital the doctor warned me that I could go into renal failure. It scared me enough to stop purging because of the extra stress that puts on my kidneys. I tried purging twice after my last hospital stint and was in so much pain the next day that I haven’t purged again in a month. Not purging has triggered all sorts of ED anxiety over weight gain. It has, however stopped me from bingeing which in the long run is a good thing.
I have been so sick that I haven’t been able to work out in nearly 2 months now. I am starting to realize just how much this is impacting my quality of life. On Tuesday I sat in the ER crying. I am too young to be losing out on life because I am sick all the time. We couldn’t go out for New Year’s Eve because I was sick. I have had to miss out on so many things in the last couple of months – work included – because I am so ill.
I started to panic that this may somehow be the unraveling of everything. All the years of abuse have finally caught up with me and my body is breaking down. I never loved myself enough to care and now that I love someone else and want a life with them, I am facing the reality of paying for what I have done. Last night I lay in bed with my boyfriend, the anxiety suffocating me. We are talking about moving in together, getting married and having children. I silently wonder if I am about to lose him and all we are dreaming of because of my ED. The irony of it is not lost on me. This man loves me enough to give me the life I have always wanted. I don’t even want to voice these thoughts and fears to him. Last night I told him I was so scared. “I am scared for you too,” he said.
I fit into my skinny jeans. I haven’t been able to wear them for 18 months. I am down nearly 20lbs since June. I really want to lose just 10-15lbs more.
My latest hospital stint set back my gym time and training, but on the plus side I didn’t eat much.