Today I’m choosing life. Again. Again. Another another attempt at recovery.
Two lies have hindered this journey: the first being that one day I’ll wake up and I’ll finally be ‘done’ – I’ll have earned Gloria’s approval. The second is that choosing recovery will be straightforward and easy. Like I just have to actually choose and that will flip a switch and it will all be gone, done, finished and I’ll be fine.
How do I combat my own thoughts and unrealistic expectations of myself? I, Hannah, know the standards to which Gloria holds me are unachievable and downright unhealthy. ‘Perfection’ in the body I have will never happen. I’m short, with short legs, a high flat bust and wide shoulders. I am ok with that. That’s me. Gloria isn’t trying to attain a magazine image, even she’s not that irrational. The aim is to be as small as possible – to be able to curl up into the tiniest ball and hide away. To be strong and invincible and the way to do that is restriction and extreme control. But I will never be small enough. I think the ultimate goal is complete implosion.
The other lie is harder to explain and fight against. The feeling of being safe as I engage in these behaviours is so strong. The peace and calm I feel when I don’t eat is bliss. The lie I cling to is that if I choose to stop all this then chaos will suddenly pour down and it will be all my fault for walking away. But I have little glimpses of what life could be like without this. Enough to see that this is not achieving any of the peace I truly want. I already have so many positives in my life that will be lost if I continue this way. Choosing them over Gloria should be the easiest thing to do, but it’s not. And every time I choose recovery, I seem to forget that it’s not a straight, easy road. I’ve said it before – I can’t just walk away from this voice.
But I can choose to fight it. And I am.
Gloria is not me.
So, I chose the easy road to peace today. It went well until dinner. Then the brown stuff hit the spinny thing.
I can finally see just how weak and underhand I’ve become in order to maintain this illness. I’m sneaky, but can’t lie about it when I’m caught. So tonight when Tony discovered that I’d hidden half of my dinner under his nose, things kind of became tense. I had to admit I’m still exercising more than he thought. When Tony realised I chose ravioli for dinner so I could restrict under the guise of never having liked it, he was more than a little peeved. The kids were still at the table with us. Phoebe was trying to bribe me to eat, Tim was just watchful and silent. Friends who’ve eaten with our family know that Tim is not silent at dinner time – he has a captive audience and will capitalise at any given opportunity. Tony got through to me, told me to fight. For once I was able to pick up my fork and eat. And I was even able to fight enough to choose to eat more after that, given that I’d eaten almost nothing all day.
There are times when this illness is just cruel. The mental and even physical aversion to the very thing that is the only cure is beyond imagining. But the short term peace is bought at too high a price.
I don’t want to live like this anymore. I don’t like who and what I’ve become. I don’t want to see that look in my son’s eyes. I don’t want Tony to search my bag every time I come home looking for what I might have bought to use for purging. I don’t want to be chaperoned everywhere I go because I’ve proven myself unworthy of trust regarding food and exercise. I don’t want my daughter to learn any of these behaviours.
Time to get real. Again.
Gloria is not me.
Tony looks forward to summer as he loves to fall asleep to the sound of the fan. I’m the opposite. I love me some silence for sleep. Tony will even use white noise in his headphones to help get to sleep.
Right now, my mind is just white noise. Really loud white noise – tuning the telly on full volume loud. Days such as this are really exhausting mentally and emotionally. And I do usually end up choosing the easiest path that leads to some form of peace. That means completely caving in to Gloria. If I don’t have to think about eating at all, my mind can at least rest, and I can focus on some other parts of my life. This is what happened on prac. I couldn’t focus on lessons, teaching, getting to know the students as I was constantly fighting Gloria. So I just quit fighting. My body lasted only two days and I had to quit prac instead.
The aim while I’m in this place is to lose as much weight as I can before someone notices or my body lets me down. While I’m here all the anxiety about food is gone, so I can go to the shops, cook food for my family, talk about food, plan the weekly menu for our family. Food is not a problem at all. I know it can’t hurt me, as it’s not going in. And I just enjoy the sense of calm.
This is when my psychologist is most blunt and tells me my thinking is dysfunctional and I cannot trust it. This is when it’s hardest to even try to be rational. Why would I choose that chaos of mind over this apparent peace?
Praying for strength to make the hard choice. The right choice. The choice that will ultimately lead to true peace, when:
Gloria is not me.
I think this is Gloria’s favourite weapon. I can’t award myself a star if I feel I enjoyed a meal too much. You know, only FAT people enjoy food like that? Is that what you want to be? Well, it’s what you already are, so, no star for YOU. She tries to turn it so I want to reward myself for restricting.
I am fantastic, apparently, at sabotaging any attempts at recovery as Gloria manages to twist my intentions for good to work it out so I end up doing what she wants anyway. Like I’ve said previously, she really knows me and how to fight dirty.
Look at how starting running again turned out. It was great to help me lose the weight and I could hide in plain sight – of course I’m losing a bit of weight I’m exercising heaps – all for a good cause, will you sponsor me? I really did start with good intentions. Exercise to help fight my depression and raising money for destiny rescue in the local running festival. But a meeting with my mentor showed me that effectually I was asking for sponsors to fuel my anorexia. After that I felt I couldn’t in all conscience ask for sponsorship. My health was deteriorating rapidly at that point, anyway, as Gloria really took hold. Even my doctor told me to stop running. In the end close friends were telling they would sponsor me to not run. But I felt obliged to run, or at least walk, so I could collect the money pledged. Which I still feel too guilty to do. I will collect it, when I remember more what I started out to do, not what I ended up doing.
The hard thing is that not even wanting to be able to run again and be strong is motivating enough to want to gain. I did love running and how it made me feel, but I’m confused as to which side of me was getting the most pleasure out of it. And the terror I feel at having to choose to gain weight is just overwhelming. Seriously, right now you might as well ask me to offer my children as child soldiers.
Gloria tries to tell me that I can regain health and strength and remain at this weight. But no one else agrees. She uses guilt to keep me from eating more than necessary as this lie festers and keeps me stuck here.
Gloria even uses the times when I’ve chosen her dumb ideas to beat me over the head. I am so looking forward to the day when they stop coming and I will be able to say:
Gloria is not me.
Timothy. Tim. Never Timmy.
Tim is what you could call a typical boy. Loves his toilet humour, loves comics, breaks wind an awful lot, loves to make us laugh, loves gory stories, blood and guts, hyperbole and big numbers, thinks war is a game and is just so loud. He is also remarkably sensitive. He’s a great little writer, too, often bringing us stories he’s written just for the fun of it and to make us laugh. My favourite was the one about the old lady who broke someone’s window, but couldn’t afford the $1 billion to replace it because she only had 5 cents in her purse.
He has a way with words both to heal and to hurt. After one particularly difficult dinner a few months ago, he came up and gave me a ‘magical hug to make you all better’ (This from the two and a half year old who, when angry at me, would declare ‘I’m not your son anymore!’). This boy has the sweetest heart. His arms are forever finding me. Surprise hugs, even kisses and always an ‘I love you, Mum’. These are coming so frequently, lately, along with his questions about me possibly dying.
He breaks my heart. He makes me angry at Gloria. Who just tries to tell me I don’t deserve his love. And also that I’m not in any danger. But the psychiatrist told me yesterday I have the same chances as a soldier at Gallipoli of dying from this. Gloria says he’s exaggerating. Also that the 1 in 5 death statistic can be switched around to 4 in 5 being ok.
I’m writing this to remind me of exactly who I’m fighting for. I’ll write about my girl soon. It’s just lately Tim has been getting through to his mum, Hannah, with his words and ways. And I am loving him right back, fiercely.
So even when I get knocked back down before I get fully back up, I will do my best to remember:
Gloria is not me.
Today I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist. More blood tests, referral to a new dietician, medications increased (yes, depression is an issue, too) and back to weekly visits to my GP.
Still torn between wanting recovery and dreading gaining weight. Gaining weight means I’m losing control. Losing control means losing everything. Or so Gloria tries to tell me.
Still in denial. Still refusing to accept what’s in my face and what I am doing to myself and the ones I love. Today is one of the days I just want to go somewhere dark and quiet and sleep til this problem goes away.
I have noticed that life doesn’t ever work that way. The only way to get rid of this is to stand up and face it. Fight. And when I fall down I have to get back up, face it and fight again. But I am just so tired.
Today it is hard to believe that there will be a time when:
Gloria is not me.