Its been a while since I posted about my eating difficulties. Its not something that is easy to post about – it feels absurd and ridiculous still that I have something like this, and it doesn’t feel serious enough to really be worthy of attention. But I read an article today about eating difficulties and it made me thoughtful. Well, it made me sad.
I don’t think I’m getting better. By which, I don’t think I’m developing a healthier relationship with food or my body. I’ve bought new clothes, force myself to eat good, healthy meals as often as I can, and not to make up for binge eating by starving….but. I still find myself twisting in front of the mirror, trying to find bones, despairing over the face that they are not there, at the roundness of my belly, of the width of my thighs, of my new stretch marks, of the blemishes on my face and the roundness of it too – I feel grossly overweight and unattractive and unable to convince myself otherwise. I find myself trying to stand a little taller sometimes, trying to sit a little straighter, to hide the way my belly rolls. I find myself not bothering with makeup and ignoring half my wardrobe- not feeling worthy of it. Makeup especially – there doesn’t seem to be much point when the canvas is all wrong. I find myself binge eating, still. Far too much. Not as great amounts, and not as often, but still too much, too often. I am always thinking about food, more now than ever actually. I’ll be totally overwhelmed by the need to binge, and unable to focus on anything else, or I’ll find myself considering my meals, trying to weigh up what will be healthiest and how much to have. If I’ve had a packet of crisps or a small chocolate bar as a snack I’ll either feel the need to compensate by making an especially healthy, small meal or think well, I’ve already failed and give in to binging, depending on my mood. I don’t want to eat, but I keep eating, and even eating my three good meals feels so wrong. I feel I need to do something about the way I look, and if only I had the willpower. I find myself looking at other girls, comparing myself and coming up at a loss.
I’m always watching other people – noting their figures, noting the way they dress, their smiles, the things they talk about. Straight legged girls, or girls with beautiful toned curves. Girls with clear skin and glossy hair. How two girl friends walking home in the rain lightly hold onto each others wrists as they squeeze together under one umbrella, how a woman on the phone tells someone she misses them, two students discussing a secret room in a club they can never find again once they leave, a girl wearing heels for no apparent reason than she wanted to.
I feel helpless against it.
I realize that I am probably willing myself not to get better. In fact, I may be feeling bitter about being better, may be longing for the days when food meant nothing to me and I did not have to eat, could easily get by with just a tiny amount of the stuff, and binging on a bar of chocolate was enough to get the high I craved. I want to be thin and clear skinned again – that was how I was. It probably wasn’t quite so magical, but I’ve formed this ideal in my head and the fact that I once had it in order to really make me feel bad about not still being it. I may be clinging onto my illness, too scared to let it go, puzzled by what would be left without it. If I am feeling stressed and lonely, what can I do except eat, to give me some joy. If I don’t eat I find myself on online shops, making useless purchases, anything to fill the emptiness and to make me feel happy.
I find it hard to feel happy these days. I find myself too scared and anxious over happiness. If I allow myself to feel positive and hopeful, what if it doesn’t make a difference? My mother keeps telling me to think positively, and then things will work out. But what if they don’t?
The “What if’s” gnaw at me, all the time. I feel a sense of dread, a firm belief deep in my gut that something bad is going to happen. Not it may, it will. Something bad is about to happen. I don’t know what.
I’ve faced failure a lot over these past few years- mainly academic. But that is just in paper – I feel like as a person I’ve perhaps grown up in the wrong way. I feel a little broken, and more than a little detached from everything going on around me, looking in and not understanding, being unable to cross over into that world. Perhaps I am in a parallel universe, looking into this strange and foreign place and longing for it, but unable to be part of it.
I’m hurting over the loss of my best friend – who I have not heard from in months, and who has been drifting away from me for years. I really need her right now, but she doesn’t need me. I don’t have anyone else. I have coworkers who I can chat to, I have my family, I have my driving instuctor so its not like I go without human contact, but I never connect with people. There is no one who I can really talk to. I don’t know though. I feel disconnected from the people around me, I do not know what to say, and antagonize and regret anything I do say. I don’t know how to make friends, or be friendly, and it feels like I’m now at the age where I’ve lost the chance to have the friends who you read about in novels or see in films – those long time friends who know you inside out, who are always there for you, and who do their best to be there for you. I lost my last friend this year, she drifted away and outgrew me, who is so childish and difficult and withdrawn. Now I am losing my sister to the same thing – to adulthood, to her growing up and changing. I am missing my sister too, in fact. Why am I always the one being left behind? Because there is something wrong with you. It has to be me. The fact that I never say the right thing or have the ability to make people stay. I eat away these feelings, this loneliness, this confusion over how other people work, how the bonds between people form, and how you can get someone to like you.
I also eat away over my stress over my life. I have my thesis to work on, which I still don’t understand, alongside two other projects, and have exams to study for, and job application after application to labour over alongside. I’m facing so many deadlines, and I feel utterly overwhelmed. I am not working right now. I’m trying to put it off. I don’t want to face it because it makes me anxious and stressed out. Of course procrastination makes me stressed out and anxious too, but not if I eat enough sugar to get that nice high. I can pretend its OK then. It feels like I’m doing life all wrong, I cannot succeed in my personal life, and I’m always struggling to keep up with my academic life. I’m feeling trapped when it comes to my financial situation, and I keep applying for scholarships, for interneships, and now for jobs, and getting rejected.
It feels more than a little disheartening to spend hours researching a company, putting together an application just to get a generic email back saying “sorry, you don’t meet our requirements.” That wording too, that implication: you are just not good enough. Here I am, sitting thinking I’m ticking all the right boxes – the high academic achievement, studying abroad, learning a different language, volunteering – but its not right. I get paranoid that perhaps they see past it all – see how shy and insecure I am underneath the facade I want to project. I want to be someone clever, someone independent who also works well in a group. I am passionate about travelling and working abroad, passionate about my degree and using it to do something useful and I want them to know this. Perhaps they focus on my failed A levels. Perhaps they see that I am shy and introverted, because I’m not involved in societies, maybe? Or do I not have the right hobbies? Is it the languages – because I have not grown up bilingual and have managed only to get to beginner level in my chosen second language? Is it that I have not got enough work experience? Perhaps. But as my coworker noted, as we were having a good bitch about the stress of graduate job hunting, it feels ridiculous and unfair that to get an entry level job you would have had to already had that job before. It feels wrong to use the word unfair. I have always believed that if I worked hard enough then I will be rewarded though. I always thought it would pay off. I’m frustrated by it. It makes me crave something that makes me feel good. Like, some chocolate.
I probably over think things. I don’t know how to switch my thoughts off. “What would you do if you had more free time”? My doctor asked me, not getting it at all. Its not that I don’t have time, its that I feel overwhelmed by the management of it, that I cannot concentrate on anything anyway, because of my thoughts. I’m so caught up worrying if I’m doing the right thing, that I feel frozen, and I don’t want to face it. What if. What is about to go wrong. Am I about to mess up. Am I messing up right now. What is wrong, what is this bad feeling settled inside me.
I don’t want to face anything. I’m tired. I’m scared. I really want some bloody chocolate to make me feel better. I know I’m not supposed to though.
Bob Hicok - Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally a Love Poem