Building a bridge

I don’t know when my mind changed. I can tell you the day I decided to reach out but I can’t pin point when that switch was turned on in my head.

I have written about my family problems before but I feel I need to recap for myself.

I am 28. My dad started having an affair whilst working away from home when I was 7. My dad continued this affair and when I was 15 a half-brother was born. My dad continued to continue this affair and built his new second family, moving them to the UK all whilst still married to my mum, but it all went south with my half-brother’s mum when I was 25.

I found out shortly after my half-brother was born. My mum couldn’t keep it a secret anymore and she needed to offload, which she did, onto me. However, she told me I couldn’t tell anyone. That I would ruin things. So I kept the secret. My dad didn’t even know that I knew.

My dad didn’t treat me right as a child but he’s tried to make amends the last few years. However, back then, I had so much anger and hurt and betrayal that I had to hold inside me. I couldn’t tell anyone. The only person I could speak to was my mum and, even then, only when she wanted to talk/rant to me about it.

A lot of things at home started to make sense. Especially my mum’s depressive episodes and suicidal thoughts. I know my mum needed someone and I have always wanted to help, but I now know it was wrong for her to place that type of secret and burden on a child. She told me but then wouldn’t let me express my hurt and anger because “I had to smile and pretend I was fine”.

I was so hurt and confused back then and I wasn’t allowed to process anything. I had to act like we were a big happy family. No one could know and I couldn’t understand. Dad didn’t treat me right so why would you stay with him once he gave you a ticket to leave? Why would you continue to put me through the pain he always caused me? Of course, I was told she stayed for me and my brother, but that’s not true. She stayed because she cannot leave. She cannot emotionally pull that trigger, rip that band aid off and walk.

My brother eventually found out maybe 7-8 years after I did. I was heartbroken to think I had lied to my brother for so long. But Once he found out, an unwritten rule was created – we don’t talk about it.

Dad has always wanted me to have a relationship with my half-brother. I never wanted one. I always said no. I have met him twice, once I reluctantly agreed to and once I was completely blindsided with. The child was stubborn, spoilt, and very demanding. It was hard to watch my dad fawn over this child and spoil him rotten when he had never done that for me. When I raised this point, my dad told me I was an adult now and it was ridiculous for me to be jealous of a 9 year old kid.

It wasn’t ridiculous. My feelings were and are valid.

Anyway, a couple of years have passed and around 3 weeks ago I told my Dad I wanted to speak to Jason and asked if he could give him my number and let him know he could reach out if he wanted to.

I don’t know what caused that switch but there are a few things that come to mind.

  • One of the times I met him, my half-brother told me he had no friends. I know how that feels. I know how lonely that is and I wouldn’t wish for a child to feel lonely.
  • I know what it’s like to have a dad like mine and, just as much as I’ve been hurt by my dad’s affair, so has my half-brother.
  • I grew up feeling unloved and unwanted. Even though no one actually said those words explicitly to me, it was a combination of words and actions that led me to feel two of the three major emotions that trigger my mental health. My half-brother might really feel unwanted if I reject him.
  • He’s a child. None of this is his fault.
  • I believe my mental health is strong enough to handle this.

So, I reached out. I text and I told him I’d like to get to know him better but that he also had a choice in the matter too and that if he needed more time then to take it.

He text me back instantly and we talked for quite a while. I had to remember at times I was talking to a 12 year old! But it felt nice and because my dad was not involved, there was no spoilt bratty stubborn child in front of me but a half-brother I was getting to know.

I told my mum that I wanted to explore a relationship with him. I don’t think she was happy. She’s become far more needy since I told her and I’ve spent so many years looking after her and others that now, in trying to look after myself, I tend to run away from people needing me. That’s a story for another day.

Reaching out or not. There’s no right decision. Not really. But something feels a little different. Like a switch went from “never” to “maybe” in the space of 3 seconds a few weekends ago and I guess we’ve just got to see where it goes from here.

Len x

@umbrella_adventures_

Out of sync

I decided to stay in Cape Verde for the week instead of going home early. I wrote a nice big list of pros and cons (don’t we love those) for staying or going home and, ultimately, I realised I wouldn’t necessarily be much happier at home and I’d still be doing very little so if I’m not going to do much I may as well not do much in the sun!

Truth be told, I realised my ED has been triggered the past month because I have been feeling insecure and vulnerable in my relationship. I am still purge free but when I say my ED has been triggered, I mean those leftover voices and urges that crop up.

It’s funny. I know my relationship is great. I know my boyfriend is wonderful and I do know that he loves me but I’ve felt a little lost the past month to 6 weeks. Kept blaming it on the new house and the adulting stress that naturally comes with that. It took me getting on a plane on Saturday morning to realise how low I was feeling towards my relationship.

That in itself felt confusing because I simultaneously knew how much we love each other and how great we are together so why could I possibly be sad?

Occasionally I’ve felt he doesn’t love me quite the same way as I love him. I’m more proactive and giving in a relationship. I like that, it’s part of my personality but it’s also a flaw because it makes me vulnerable to thinking they don’t care as much as I do when that could be completely wrong.

I’ve done the most of the house planning and organising. I sorted the mortgage, legal docs and negotiations. I’m the one who researches and makes suggestions about rooms and furnishings (more often than not to be met with a “no” yet no alternative solutions offered. I’m the one who rearranges my work days (even when I really shouldn’t) to deal with deliveries and builders. I’m the one who deals with all those phone calls and emails relating to all that. Which is fine, I promise…again, I naturally default to being the organiser…but it would be nice for a little more action on my partners half rather than me feeling like I’m always chasing and him not wanting me to…

Sex has dropped too. Dare I say it, I think good sex is super important to a great relationship. I know some might disagree and say I’m wrong to emphasise good sex but honestly, the way I see it, happy relationship = better sex = happier relationship = even better sex = happy relationship…

Obviously that’s not always true. I know that. But for me, I do feel the happier I am with my boyfriend the more I can connect with him during sex and that then makes me happier.

He’s lost some of his romantic edge too. No flowers on our anniversary this year or valentines and he didn’t even post anything about our anniversary which took me by surprise. It sounds lame to want a social media post but here’s the thing. He doesn’t post much about us, I get that. I’m not a massive social media PDA-er either but he’s always done this nice short and sweet loving post about me on our anniversary so that’s my one day he tells everyone how much he loves me and I know I won’t get it the rest of the year but I know I’ll get it that one day..except this year.

We don’t hang out as much as I thought we would either. I knew it wouldn’t be like the weekends we used to spend together but with my long hours and needing early nights and him wanting to practice his cello and play games at night there’s such limited time in between me coming home and going to sleep. He doesn’t see the need to dedicate that one hour I have to each other but I do. I see it as “okay, I’m home and I’ll be asleep in 60 mins so let’s watch TV, chat a bit and then once I’m asleep you can do whatever it is you want to do…just give me 45-60 minutes of your time.”

He’s the opposite. He doesn’t feel negative if we don’t see each other at all in an evening. I do. He’s more introverted than me…but I like my alone time too! Finding the balance is hard. Trying to sync ourselves into a routine that isn’t routine but feels natural. Knowing when I may need more attention and when he may need more space. It sounds so silly to me sometimes because honestly living together has been wonderful and I love it.

I really do.

Just the lack of productiveness towards our joint investment and new home, decrease of sex and romantic affection has left me feeling a little unloved, a little unwanted, and I’m turn, a little worthless. Unloved, unwanted and worthless…the three major emotions I’ve experienced throughout my life that culminated in my ED.

It makes me sad to feel as though he doesn’t love me as hard as I love him.

I cried and told him all of this on Sunday. He was very supportive and it felt like a huge weight of my chest. He agreed that we should work on syncing up our sex lives and acknowledged he hasn’t been as affectionate as he could have been lately. He’s making more effort on the house front too. He tried to reassure me that he does love me and he’s just a bit introverted with his evening activities – something that’s harder to see when before you lived together, you only hung out on a sat night and Sunday so you naturally dedicate all that time to one another.

Adulting, eh? Bloody hard work but I’m sure it’s all worth it.

Teardrops

For some reason, a reason I’m trying very hard to identify, I’m crying.

And I feel like I need it. Like I need these teardrops on my face to help the situation somehow.

But I wish I knew what that situation was and what these tears are needed for.

I’m on a one week holiday that started today. I’m in a nice resort on an island I’ve never visited before in temperatures that are far better than England.

I’m on my own but I have travelled alone many times before so I don’t know why that would be the reason for these teardrops.

Work has been going well (albeit tough, as always). My boyfriend and I recently celebrated our third anniversary and we’ve bought a house – I know I haven’t written a blog post for almost 6 months as the “update list” is huge. Living with my boyfriend is most definitely an upgrade from previous living arrangements but we’re still working out the kinks (like how much time is too much time together each evening and working out how to get space when you want it). My family life is far less stressful than it used to be.

Actually, and probably most importantly, I recently reached my one year purge free milestone.

It’s been more than one year since I last purged.

Doesn’t mean I’m 100% okay. I do struggle with my “recovery body”. It’s bigger than it used to be and wobbles more. I have some skin laxity too. Online platforms have aided my recovery but sometimes I find it hard to see warriors who have recovered but are much smaller than me or warriors who have recovered who are much bigger than me.

There’s no one shape fits all, I know that.

But nothing I do changes my stomach. I work out a lot but not obsessively, always for enjoyment and movement. I have learnt to eat but not restrict. I allow myself less healthy foods in moderation alongside healthy foods. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, by choice, and I feel like my efforts are wasted.

It’s been suggested that due to my appendix surgery and the way I rapidly lost weight due to the way my ED started that I won’t be able to shift the stubborn fat, and definitely not some of the loose skin, myself.

I feel recovered but I feel like a fraud because I don’t love my recovery body.

God, this is why I used to need/love this blog, I’d start with a question and by writing I’d work it out (or at least a contributing factor to my current feelings).

I was super excited when I booked this holiday in October. I’d just come back from my qualification leave where I loved my body. I was so in love with my boyfriend (obviously still am!) and just gone back to work in the area I always wanted. I guessed I would need a break in Feb, and I do, but I half wish I was at home.

This holiday is very different than my previous ones. It’s not an active holiday, it’s purely leisure. I’m staying in an all inclusive resort and I’m starting to realise that, that, is incredibly scary.

Not loving my recovery body probably isn’t helping me put on my bikinis either.

So, I’ve at least got something to work on. The tear drops are still coming but maybe I can do something about them? Like…

  • I specifically booked a rest holiday due to the time of year (there’s only so many warm places close enough to Europe at this time of year) but I could book a couple of excursions to get me out of the resort, into nature and the local culture – things I ADORE about travelling.
  • I’m next to the beach…I could add in some nice beach walks. I love the sea so much and I’ve always been a water baby.
  • I have a notebook. I could use this current mindset as an opportunity to develop some self-awareness, dig deep into my current recovery.
  • I brought my Greek stuff. I could dedicate an hour or two each day to learn more. I’ve always been proud to be Greek and have loved starting to learn the language (finally!).
  • There’s a spa. Who doesn’t like a pamper day?

On reflection, I’ve never had many pure relaxation holidays, except for my favourite Greek island but that is just a simply wonderful place that I’m always okay relaxing there. I’ve never done all inclusive either so I should give myself some baby steps.

Even if I’ve not fully worked out why the tears are falling I can definitely say that, they were worthwhile because they brought me back to my blog, which I’ve missed.

❤️

Stuck in a rut

“But you’re fine” that’s what they say.

That’s what they always tell you.

But I don’t feel fine.

“So what if you’ve gained weight, you’re fine”

That’s how they continue.

But I don’t think “so what?”

I see more writing in my food diary, the increased number on the scale, an unhappy girl in the mirror looking at me.

I am that unhappy girl.

I’m trying to ignore the numbers and the thoughts but I’ve, simply put, struggled this week. I’m in a bit of a rut and I’m not sure how I can get out of it.

Today

I hate days like today.

The days where I hate every reflection of myself that I glimpse. The days where I have this uncomfortable feeling of disgust about myself and my image.

I hate these days where I become so scared, yet again, that I’m never going to be ‘perfect’. These days where my biggest fear is looking ‘fat’ this weekend.

I hate having days where the Demon plagues my thoughts with negativity. Days where I feel like I’m being swallowed whole.

Questioning every decision to eat, every exercise that doesn’t seem to shift any weight. Constantly questioning when, if ever, I’m going to feel good enough.

It screams at me that I’m huge and ugly. That I’m weak and disgusting. And the worst of it is, I appreciate these words aren’t true, that I am actually worth more than I think I am but that, in turn, makes me feel ashamed and embarrassed that I even have this illness in the first place.

I have these days where I do just fine, great in fact but I really hate that days like today seem to eradicate any progress I make.

Any step I took forward seems forgotten, lost in that dark space that swallows me whole.

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Welcome Home 


I’ve had this blank page staring back at me the past few days. Want to write, know that I do, but about what? I don’t know.

I just don’t know.

My head is spinning with a thousand questions, so much so I won’t allow myself to even take a step back and appreciate how well the past three weeks have gone. I’ve not weighed myself at all and I don’t feel as much of a need to. Part of me thinks that shows massive progression but the other part tells me its because I’m scared to see the number, that I’m bound to have gained weight.

Every time I think I’ve made steps forward that voice simply tells me I haven’t. It downplays my success. I’ve not purged for more than 3 weeks…but that’s probably because I’ve been with other people, not because I’ve gotten stronger…

He wants to be with me. Says that he does. Says that he really likes me. But I don’t know. What if I’m setting myself up for yet another failure. Am I weak for going back? Or am I making the right choice by trying to work through whatever happened? But what did happen? I don’t know. I still don’t get it, I still can’t process it because he hasn’t given me a reason as to why he did what he did.

And my head keeps spinning.

When I’m with him, its perfect. As though nothing happened. But when I’m alone I just think of all that pain he brought to that Sunday a few weeks ago.

He said after a really long (and I mean really long) relationship he’s scared of picking the wrong person. He described it as akin to a mental health issue, that he panicked and almost couldn’t control the things he was saying. I can half understand that, even though none of my friends do.

But surely that means I’m the wrong person? I mean, of course I am. No matter how many steps I move forward nor how many achievements I make, I have so many failures and broken pieces of me that can never be forgotten.

Failures and broken pieces that are rooted in a bastard of an eating disorder.

Of course I would never be right.

Of course, each time someone ‘genuine’ comes along, they soon enough realise I’m not right.

Why would I be?

Does this mean he’s just going to end it another day in the future? Right now, he is right for me. I don’t believe its healthy to look too far into the future regarding relationships too soon but am I just here, making him better for the next one to come along? Just like always.

Always setting them up to treat the next one better.

For once I thought I was finally getting treated better.

I just don’t know anymore.

But he does treat me right. One stupid afternoon, one epic mind fuck but everything else feels incredibly normal and perfect. I can’t spend a relationship second guessing everything…just like I can’t spend my recovery second guessing every step forward that I make.

No more second guessing, back to going with the flow, I suppose.


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‘Time Heals’, That’s a lie.

Right now I am a mixture of very happy and very sad and I’m trying so very hard to figure it all out. I’m trying to figure out all these feelings and emotions and words and thoughts and I can’t work out what they all mean. Everything I feel lately seems to be a contradiction of itself and I do not understand any of it.

I suppose that we will always be too much for some people, too loud, too quiet, but we’re always going to be perfect for someone. Sometimes I really do wish I had that someone. That someone to hold my hand the other day when I saw him. That someone to come with me for my biopsy results that might tear my world apart again. That someone to hold me in their arms at night. Sometimes I think that someone is never going to appear.

I’m still in so much pain, I’m still hurting and feeling so worthless. I mean, maybe I don’t deserve to feel anything but worthless…maybe I am worthless. Maybe I don’t deserve to be more or to be treated better than everyone else has treated me. Deep down I know I deserve more, I know that’s the voice of the Demon but sometimes, just sometimes, I can’t help but listen to it.

Why did he not treat me like his girlfriend? Was he embarrassed of me? Ashamed? Why did that one, tell me no one would love me because I was bulimic? Is it true? Is it impossible to love the girl who makes herself sick? Was I too fat? Am I too fat? Why did he lead me on? Why aren’t my friends speaking to me? Why did he hurt me? Why did he lie? Why did they not help me? Did they even care? Did any of them ever care?

Is anyone ever going to care?

That voice is growing louder again lately and I’m fighting so hard to keep it under lock and key. I’m walking very shaky ground every day it seems, and I can tell I’m about to lose my balance. There’s so much pain coursing through my body but at the end of the day you can either focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s holding you together.

I used to write about how I miss the girl I used to be, the one before the Demon emerged and before all the real-life demons too. I would write about how I wanted to be her again. How I wanted to find myself again and how I just wanted to love myself. It dawned on my today that I’m never going to be that girl again. I’m never going to be unbroken but that’s also okay. I realised that loving myself is remembering that when there was no one to wipe my tears I did it myself. That I picked myself up. That I put myself back together again. The Demons tore me down but I glued myself back together.

I sincerely hope my daughter never lies in bed crying all night about a boy, wondering what she did so wrong.

People tell you that ‘time heals’. They tell you that all you need is some ‘time’ to get over things. That is a lie. What people truly mean is that you get used to the pain. You eventually forget who you were without the pain. You finally forget what you looked like without your scars. I look back and that girl I used to be is exactly that, she is the girl I used to be. She wasn’t broken and she was full of ambition and hope. The girl I see staring back at me now is broken…but she is still full of ambition and hope. Hopeful that one day it will work out. That her someone will arrive and that someone will want her to be his someone. She has ambition pumping in her veins driving her for that dream life she wants, knowing that she truly is an expert at perseverance.

Time doesn’t heal anything. You can’t go back to the person before the hurt and pain. However, you can keep moving forward and that’s what I want to do. I want to stop looking back at the past 6 years and let it make me feel worthless. I can’t help but look back but I’m starting to get used to the pain. I suppose I’ve been used to feeling this hurt for 6 years now, why am I even surprised if someone else adds to it? I just really wish they wouldn’t. I really wish they took more care with me.

I hope the next someone does.

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The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all

I saw someone I didn’t want to see.

More than half a year ago I came to London with my ex to attend an evening at a firm he was interested in and when we were walking down the street we walked past the same person and back then I froze.

Yesterday I froze even more but unlike last time, I was on my own. I had no one to hold onto, no hand to squeeze tight, no arms to put around me and tell me I would be okay.

I couldn’t breathe. Taken back to that night which must be 3 years ago now and my chest got so tight. The hands grabbing and body pushing so vivid in my mind. I stumbled across to a wall and managed to get my breath back.

It shocks me just how much what he did really affected me. I’ve had an up and down week with my body image but seeing him made me feel so dirty. It was almost worse because he didn’t see me again but I definitely saw him. I know we went to school together but I will never forget that face.

It almost made me relapse but when I got home I sat with my housemates and just laughed  about god knows what and the memory of that person disappeared. That’s the thing though, if I see him again I don’t think I’ll freeze, I’m not going to let what some creep did to me hold me back, make me relapse like he did those years ago. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, moving forward, closer to being the best version of me.

I was actually really proud of myself that night, it was bad and I felt so scared and vulnerable in the street but I went home and surrounded myself with amazing people. It made me realise something, there’s so much sadness inside me but I still have so much love to give to the people who count.

I’m proud of my heart. It’s been played, stabbed, cheated, burned and broken but somehow it still works. The happiness and love that I can give to people even though my heart is broken, shows just how beautiful I am.

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The Dash

Your Life Is Made of Two Dates and a Dash. Make the Most of the Dash

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I don’t want to be at the end of my stretch and look back and realise I lost some of the best years of my life to my eating disorder. I don’t want to look back and see things I missed out on because the demon stopped me from doing them.

Equally, I don’t want to look back and realise I stopped myself from being happy. Stopped myself from being me. I want someone to be proud to have me. Not because I’m pretty or skinny, as my ED tells me, but because they value me as a person. Now, I do know people I have been with and dated did like me as a person but naturally I am well aware of those who abused and took advantage of me. Whilst, its so unfortunate, that’s life.

I want to look back and be confident my decisions were right. I want to look back and see pictures like the one I’ve shared; where I look Strong not Skinny.

I want to make the most of this ‘dash’. I want to keep progressing the way that I am and not keep falling back. Those people who took advantage or did not appreciate me will eventually realise what they’ve missed out on. I don’t think I’ve felt this happy or confident and it truly is a lovely place to be. I’m not skinny. I’m strong.

Isn’t it crazy how we can look back a year ago and realise how much everything has changed? The amount of people that have left your life, entered, and those that have stayed. The memories you won’t forget and the moments you wish you could. Everything. It is crazy how all that happened in one year. It’s made me realise too, you know you really love someone when you can’t hate them no matter how much they broke your heart.

I just want to make the most of these amazing opportunities I have right now and starving and purging isn’t going to allow that. Keep eating moderately and exercising well. I’ve never felt happier or prouder of my progress than I do right now.

 

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A Beautiful Paradox

seeingdouble

 

She was broken but never hopeless. Alone but never lonely. Her eyes reflected pain but projected courage. She was a beautiful paradox

I really like that quote and feel like I can massively relate to it. It always feels weird to have people say things to me like, ‘I love how confident you are, you don’t take crap from anyone!’ when deep down, I know I’m filled with self-doubt.

The look on people’s faces when they realise what I’ve gone through and what I’m currently going through can really say it all for me. They genuinely have no idea the happy, chatty girl with the infectious smile can be so broken inside. The problem is, I’m not pretending to be that happy person, I know that person is me. It’s just that beneath it all there is the girl struggling to glue herself back together.

All it takes is one nightmare from that night…one glance from a girl skinnier than me…one more family argument, to tear down that smile and the tears come running. I really am a confident person, definitely personality confident and definitely NOT body confident but I really am getting there with being comfortable with the way I look.

I met the other trainees this week and they were so skinny. They really were, no lumps and bumps, no chest like mine and I felt so huge. They were like sticks and there I am…most definitely not a stick. I felt so self-conscious…I’ve not felt like that since i was half-naked in a swimming costume. They were all talking about how great their lives were and are, their family background and their wonderful boyfriends. DOn’t get me wrong, every single girl would have been through similar shit like me and to be honest, they were lovely and I don’t think I met a single person I disliked. No one commented on my looks or weight, or made any hint or suggestion.

No one except me. I was so down that day and I relapsed when I got home.

The next day my latest gym delivery arrived, protein etc. and a new (complimentary) gym top. Its silly but new gym kit? That is most certainly the way to motivate you to go! I felt so good, I went and worked out for an hour, did my weights and finished with a run and I looked in the mirror and felt…proud. Staring back at me was the girl who (yes, I relapsed) but woke up today determined to continue on my journey of becoming the best possible version of myself.

And I was not skinny.

But I looked strong.

#StrongNotSkinny seems to be trending lately I suppose

And it felt good.

I want to be so skinny at times but I’m also happy to be strong.

I feel so inadequate as if I don’t deserve anything or anyone but I also believe I deserve special because I do believe I am special.

I want to be loved but I know I still don’t quite love myself so…as my favourite drag queen quotes… If you can’t love yourself how in the hell you gonna love someone else!

Haha here I am quoting Ru Paul (she is the best though).

I really am happier. I’m getting less focused on skinny and more focused on strong. My housemates seem to love me for me…I’m sure my new friends will love me for me and I’m sure that one day someone else will love me for me.

I really am a paradox. I feel simultaneously not good enough and too much. I suppose I need to keep journeying for the happy medium where the outside smiles and confidence truly reflects the inside smiles and confidence.

I’m not broken anymore, because I’ve already started to put myself back together. I am simply currently undergoing my re-construction.

The best of me is yet to come.