My head has been very busy this last week.
My best friend left, I’ve had a chance to reconnect with a friend I hold very dear, I’ve felt my sister’s absence, my birthday has been looming, I’ve had late nights with great people, I’ve had an apparent friend cancel on me twice, and I’ve seen some wonderful live music from an old friend. It’s been a real flurry, a mix, of relationships with friends, not-so-friends, loved ones, people I wish were more than friends, and myself. I haven’t actually been able to pin-point how I feel at any one time because my emotions have been so unpredictable and here/there/everywhere, but always very intense.
Last night I got home at 2am after spending all night (proudly and unashamedly) playing D&D with the very best of people, my wonderful friends. We laughed until we cried, we killed a bunch of goblins, and we just had the most pure and joyous fun. So when I got home I was in a great mood, obviously. But that only lasted about 15 minutes. One of the friends I play with is easily the most gorgeous person – on absolutely every level – I have ever met, never mind had the pleasure to call my friend. I only get to see them sporadically and every time I get to reconnect with them their hilarity, politeness, cheekiness, and just pure, deep goodness hits me like a fucking freight train all over again. Just being around them makes my soul happy.
No matter how fun our evening was, no matter how enriched I felt by the company of my gorgeous friends and my particularly gorgeous friend, it only took 15 minutes of being home alone afterwards for me to completely and utterly implode.
I felt fat, I felt ugly, uneducated, unfunny, round, shiny, hairy, and just disgusting, unattractive, and undeserving of love on any level. I knew that no one actually liked me, and that people can’t really be my friend – never mind anything more than that – because all they see in me is a fat, ugly failure. I knew that people just stare at my many, many flaws and think I’m disgusting, a joke. Of course this was all compounded by the fact that I turn 23 tomorrow. Birthday’s, to me, are nothing more than a reminder of how I have wasted another year being fat, ugly, uneducated, unfunny, round, shiny, hairy, disgusting, unattractive, and undeserving of love. Birthday’s are days when all the attention is focused on me. This is the absolute last thing in the world that I want. Ever. I have mild panic attacks about when Christmas rolls around or my birthday rolls around and I have to sit there opening presents while people watch me, my head angled down to really accentuate my bloated profile, my chubby cheeks. These thoughts don’t creep in as my birthday or Christmas approach, I literally think about it throughout the entire year. I just don’t want people to look at me, I don’t want people to ever look at me. Please.
It took me a long time to realise that just because I’m no longer 34kgs, and just because I no longer self-harm on a daily or weekly basis, doesn’t mean I’m okay. It doesn’t mean I’m happy or healthy. I can have a laugh with my friends, I can have an absolute ball with them, but it’s always just a distraction. The minute I’m alone again it all comes crashing back down and it’s like I suddenly remember that I’m a size 14, that absolutely none of my clothes look nice on me, that I have chins rather than a chin, that my hair is thick and curly and impossible, that my thighs are always smooshed together, that I have hair everywhere, that my arms are huge, that I won’t use one of our bathrooms in the morning because the natural light in there is so harsh in the morning and I literally can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror in that lighting because if I don’t see it then I don’t have to know what I actually look like to everyone who sees me. I mean…just reading that back makes me so upset because I’ve been doing it for so long now without thinking twice. It’s just the way my day works. And that’s not good.
I started eating again about halfway through 2011. Every single January since then I’ve said to myself, ‘this is it, this is the year that I take back control of my life and lose weight. This is the year that I get happy and get healthy.’ There have certainly been some moments since then when I’ve felt good, great even. But they’ve never been longer than a few weeks. The best I’ve felt since 2011 was actually about a year ago. Adventuring in New York and British Columbia in December and January 2015/16 was the happiest I can remember being in the last decade. I honestly felt like a new person; I felt like the person I was meant to be. That all came to an abrupt halt in February though, when I allowed an apparent friend of mine to pull the lynchpin and completely and utterly destroy every inch of progress I’d made. That’s on me though. I allowed them to have that affect on me. I could’ve stood up for myself, I could’ve walked away from what had become a toxic, uncomfortable relationship, but I didn’t and I still haven’t, and it deeply upsets me and distresses me and suffocates me every single day.
I need to do better by myself. I need to listen to what my body and my mind need, and I need to nourish myself accordingly.
Spending lots of time with my gorgeous friends, my actual friends, certainly helps. Laughter really is the best medicine. Even if that medicine wears off as soon as I’m alone again, it’s a start. Recognising that I’m not doing so great? That’s a start. Even if I don’t know what to do about it yet, how to tackle it, who to talk to, if I want to talk, it’s still a start. I know that I will never be able to say anything to my particularly gorgeous friend, so I think the best thing I can do is move on emotionally and just appreciate how wonderful they are and how glad I am that I get to be their friend. It’s a start. I am blessed with a few really good friends. Even though one has left for 2 years again, and one of them lives on the other side of the country, I still have a couple of wonderful friends here whom I can spend time with to inject my life with some much-needed fun, laughter, positivity, and support. I love them dearly, and I’m extremely grateful to have them.
I just…I’m just so tired. Being uncomfortable in public, constantly feeling like all eyes are on you scrutinising every disgusting roll and every follicle, routinely adjusting your clothes in an attempt to hide yourself, standing with terrible posture and trying to cover your stomach with your arms at all times, wondering how early you can leave without upsetting anyone, not knowing what to say to anyone – even your friends – in a social situation, feeling like you’re letting your mother down because of what your wear, feeling guilty because you don’t see your dad much, knowing that you can’t walk around the corner to see your best friend because she’s gone again, feeling stuck at university, being terrified to leave university, not being able to go for a coffee and a debrief with your sister because she lives on the other side of the country, not wanting to leave the house because you don’t want to have to put clothes on, knocking back work shifts because you can’t get up, eating everything in site because all you really want in the world is to be able to stop eating again and to be dangerously thin again, constantly replaying that time you cut too deep and the feel of the unexpectedly warm blood streaming down your forearm and your hand. Catastrophizing everything. All the time.
It’s exhausting. I’m so exhausted. But I’m also scared, because this has been my life for a decade, for the most formative decade of my life; the period of your life when you’re supposed to be figuring out and deciding who you are. So I’m fucking terrified of the idea of being okay – being happy and healthy – because I don’t know who I am without self-harm, I don’t know who I am without my various eating disorders, I don’t know who I am without depression, I don’t know who I am without anxiety.
But most of all, I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I don’t think I’m going anywhere right now, I think I just needed to get it all out and try to work through it and make some sense of it by writing it out.
I’ll let you know how that goes.
It’s early in the morning on February 3. Happy birthday to me.
*originally posted 3 February 2017