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

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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.

❤️

Little Wins

I deliberately stayed away from writing during December even though I had plenty to write about. There was so much I wanted to say, so many emotions I wanted to get out onto paper but I always find I retreat in December. I shy away from so much because there’s so much going on.

December is already a difficult month and I found myself becoming anxious about it 2-3 weeks into November.

The battles were louder and lasted longer.

Every day I had to remind myself not to “earn” or “burn off” any celebration or socialisation that was in my diary.

I had to double check I was working out because I wanted to and not because “I had to”.

I then had to console myself for the days I couldn’t work out and the days my food plans became unpredictable.

I had to take my fitbit off and hand it over to my mum for the holiday period because I had a breakdown on a day where it wouldn’t sync to my phone and I couldn’t see what calories I had burned before a meal out with some old friends.

I had to remember to rest and relax.

But everywhere you look, every social media platform quickly becomes the “Competitive Christmas Competition” and we’re flooded with pictures of food and festivities. We’re reminded to “earn our Christmas dinner”, to “work off the Christmas parties” and to embrace a “New Year, New Body”.

Friends make harmless comments about “how much they ate over Christmas”. I had one friend tell me she ate so much that it made her throw up and all I could do was smile and nod. I didn’t know how to tell her that type of conversation makes me uncomfortable as I think of all the Christmases I have experienced relapses.

I relapsed this year and I blamed myself so hard because last year was the first year I was not sick on Christmas Day. I wanted this year to be the second year but whilst I ate breakfast and ate my Christmas Dinner, I purged when I had a snack at 8pm because it wasn’t on my food plan.

I wasn’t full at that point. I hadn’t overeaten. I had simply had an extra bite not on my plan and I went into auto-pilot. In hindsight, I put too much pressure on myself because of last year but I realised that this year was in fact better than last year.

Last year, I went home for the shortest time possible. I made sure I “worked for my Christmas Dinner” and I punished myself by over exercising and purging as soon as I got back to London on the 27th. I continued my restrict-purge cycle all the way through to February when I decided I needed help.

So I wasn’t okay last year. I was over-exercising, under-eating and purging whenever I could.

This year was different. This year, (minus my fitbit meltdown) I gave myself 2 weeks off exercising. This year, I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I still didn’t enjoy my Christmas parties to the maximum I could but I still went and faced them.

This year, I’ve come back to London and my first instinct has not been to eat and purge. I’m still experiencing panic attacks with food. I’m still nervous around my triggers and I’m still trying not to rely mentally on my fitbit but all in all, it’s a much better Christmas period than last year.

I’ve suffered 3 purges in 15 weeks. Definitely some skipped meals in those weeks but not too many. Throw in a few good panic attacks and well, the end of 2018 wasn’t too bad recovery-wise after all.

There are going to be no resolutions this year. No promises to do X, Y or Z. No pressure on any goals. Just continuing forward each day.

It’s Okay

Girls Night Out had been planned for at least 2 months and, now that I think about it, I was the one who had initiated the plans in the first place. We were to go out on the Friday but as soon as the preceding Monday arrived I was filled with guilt and nerves.

I was nervous I would be the biggest. I was nervous that none of my clothes would fit. I was nervous about what the numbers were saying to me, whether it was the calories, the scales, or the dress sizes.

I then blamed myself for the fact I didn’t want to go.

I felt guilty that the thought of a night out scared me. I felt guilty that I was too petrified to try on outfits. I felt guilty that I just knew I wouldn’t be having as much fun as my friends because my thoughts were focused elsewhere.

Add on the stress of a very demanding deal at work all week with close to midnight finishes on a daily basis…before I knew it, it was Friday and I felt physically ill.

Truth be told, I was tired. I was so incredibly exhausted from my mental battles, work. gym and I was desperate to sleep. Every morning I wake up and there’s new fights in my head. The voice asking when am I going to eat? What am I going to eat? Will I purge? Will I restrict? Will I fail and do both? What are others going to eat? Am I going to gain weight? Will I go to the gym to make up for it? When should I eat? Am I strong enough today? Should I eat that? Why did I eat that?

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Along came Friday and I was hurting, I was exhausted and I couldn’t do it.

I put a dress on and did my makeup but then told them I wasn’t going out and went and cried in my bedroom. I told myself I was weak. That I had failed because I hadn’t been strong enough to go out.

But then I tried to turn that thought around. I’ve been working my way through a Compassionate Mind Therapy workbook aimed at (as you can guess) developing my compassionate mind. Me and my old therapist used to focus on CMT and it’s actually been incredibly refreshing and enlightening to bring myself back to this form of therapy.

Long story short, we have 3 systems: threat, drive and soothing. They all interact with one another and if you imagine drawing how active they are in my life as circles on a piece of paper, my threat circle is HUGE, my drive circle quite large and my soothing circle? It’s basically non-existent.

Experiences and memories either help the circles grow or shrink and I need to focus on shrinking how big that threat voice is and allow the soothing voice to grow.

I have spoken about my past in many previous posts so there’s no need to go into too much detail but the book encouraged me to think about why my threat voice is so predominant in my everyday life.

I thought about my family  who criticised me for being overweight as a child. Instead of finding a healthy way for me to lose weight they told me that because of my weight and my disabilities that I was an embarrassment and no one would love me. I thought about the children who bullied me for being so fat and the boys who teased and taunted me. thought about the boys who had taken me for granted, used me, abused me.

I thought about the coaches who criticised every sporting achievement, telling me it was never good enough because I was fat. They put me under so much pressure to ‘make it’ and only ever talked about my weight, criticising it in front of others, embarrassing me in front of the team. They never noticed when I became a really dangerous weight, all they saw was the ‘fatter’ athlete I had been previously.

I thought about how much pain my dad’s long-term affair and money issues brought to my family. I thought about my cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Volkmann’s contracture, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, damaged kidneys, nerve damage, ruptured muscles, slipped discs, the time I had pre-cancerous cells and how every doctor’s appointment made me feel a little bit more broken than the last.

And then I thought about me.

I thought about how the child in me only ever wanted to be loved. I only ever wanted to mean something, to be valued. I thought about how I became such an over-achiever because I thought it would get me the attention I deserved, only to be crushed when I was told I was never good enough. I thought about how the adult me is always overly-eager to help others, to be there for everyone in the hope that they not just value my presence but will be there for me in return. I thought about how I hate to consider myself needy but I admittedly crave attention, I need affirmation that I am worth something.

That I’m not worthless and there is value to who I am.

It’s easy to see why I blamed everything on being ‘overweight’. Why I convinced myself that everything would be better if I lost weight and why it gave me control over my chaotic life that was spiraling every day.

It then became easier to blame myself even less for becoming bulimic after I wrote everything down. I blame myself even less now that I’m writing it down here.

I know I had gotten myself worked up all week but I was feeling incredibly rubbish, took some time to work through a chapter in this book and realised everything was okay. It was okay to miss a night out because I wasn’t up for it. It didn’t mean I was weak. It meant I was ill at that moment in time, too ill to go out. If I had the flu, I wouldn’t have gone, so there I was not weak when I took myself out of a triggering situation, to go do some self-therapy and work through it.

I don’t need to deny that I’m ill nor do I need to justify the way my illness makes me feel. It’s okay if you’re sad one day and smiling the next. Every now and then, it’s okay to not be okay.

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‘Full of Joy’


I haven’t written for almost a month, in fact, I think it’s been almost exactly a month since I last wrote. Most of the times when I go silent it means something’s up, something I’m not quite ready to tackle head on but I’m pleased to say this time it’s quite the opposite.

To the north of mainland Greece there’s a teeny tiny island called ‘Skiathos’ and it is by far my favourite. I first came here when they told me I was too fat to represent my country at a Paralympic Games and whilst I arrived all doom and gloom I definitely left, yet again, quite the opposite.

So where else would I head to when I had about a month to myself? Where else would I go where my friends are more like family than my own? So yes, you guessed it, here I am in my favourite place in the entire world. 24 days down, 2 to go.

I thought I’d get bored or lonely at least once because just under four weeks is a long time. But fact of the matter is, I simply haven’t and I’ve loved every single minute. I’ve been meaning to write but I’ve just been so distracted with sun, sea and my family that I wish was my own. The only reason I’ve finally managed to sit down and type something out is because it’s stormy and windy today that I don’t really have any other option!

The first weeks were tough. I couldn’t help but compare myself to everyone else I saw around me. How flat I perceived their stomachs to be. How I perceived myself in comparison. I restricted and I purged but I also did get it under control. 12 weeks…2 episodes of purging. I tried to deal with it healthily and I will admit I struggled but being around old friends and adoptive family filled me with so much joy – there’s a phrase Greeks use in response to the question, ‘How are you?’ – mi hara – ‘full of joy’ and I think that in itself is a beautiful response.

One day I woke up insanely happy, I felt some sort of spring in my step and I even later in the day cried over text to my bestest. I simply felt happy. I’ve tried to change how I word things – I would say ‘everyone is so much skinnier than me’ and today I noticed I wrote ‘how I perceived…’ . Trying to develop my awareness of my eating disorder symptoms. I used to write I missed who I used to be before my ED and during this trip I realised I should never have focused on becoming a past version of myself because, simply put, we all change. And, yes, I’ve experienced some horrible things but that doesn’t mean I won’t become the best version of myself as a result.

I told him I loved him. The three words slipped out after weeks of me trying to hold them back. I knew I wouldn’t hear them said to me and that was okay but naturally not the greatest feeling. It got to me a bit but now? I’m completely different. I knew I wouldn’t hear them but I still wanted to say how I felt. I didn’t need to hear them back regardless of how much I want to hear them one day. I was brave enough to put my heart on the line because I cared about being honest with my feelings – for myself as much as for him.

Working really hard to separate my inecurities from reality.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a scary sorta limbo. I know we’re pretty awesome and the fact he’s made a noticeable effort to text more as I’m more of a ‘communicator’ so to speak, the dedicated weekly face time slot and the simple fact that if I need him, really need him, he’s there…and yeah, we’re pretty awesome together…there’s no need to worry. I don’t want to reach that stage where I may have to deal with a guy who decides he’s never gonna love me but I can’t live in fear of something that’s only got a 50% chance of occurring. I’d probably self-sabotage it all that way anyway.

He does say something to me though – ‘I like you an absolute lot’

I think I like that more than ‘I love you’

Bit like how I prefer the Greek saying of ‘I’m full of joy’ rather than ‘I’m good/fine/okay’ because when I say the latter, some of it is a lie…but I’m always full of joy so to speak as I’m one of those people who finds happiness in the simplest of things, always happy even if I’m not okay with my body shape or my perception of myself.

Maybe I’ll start focusing on trying to be full of joy. Focused on the little things that bring me happiness rather than the things that make me feel okay about myself…

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Raindrops



The rain was so heavy last night. It just endlessly poured and poured. It drenched me through, past skin and bones but I wasn’t ready to go home.

The voice at the other end of the phone cracked a feeble excuse of ‘hello’. I could hear her tears begin to fall before I could say my own ‘hello’.

Crying over the man she has to go home to. Crying over the situation she says didn’t want. Whilst she can’t control his actions she chose to remain and so off to home, she goes.

I needed strength from someone that wasn’t me. Support for the two feet I could barely stand on. So I leant with my back to a broken fence trying to stay tall. I tried to find that strength within but my own tears began to fall.

And the rain kept pouring. It poured and poured. It was never going to stop.

It…this…all of it. It’s never going to stop.

Every tear that falls, makes me take irrelevant things to heart. But although I know it’s different, the scars I have convince me that more are due to start.

They say I’m strong but I’ve never felt so weak and last night I just wanted some arms. To wrap around and hold me close and take away this storm.

This storm that gets so strong, it knocks me to my knees. Why can’t they see what they do to me…what they’ve done to me…

They don’t see the scars they’ve dug so deep.

My head pounds with contradictions and distortions: present, future, past. Pick them up and I carry them all, the ground cracks beneath my feet.

The rain almost started to soothe me. As if the world could feel my pain. Not alone, never have been. With my heart calmer and one deep breath I brought myself to my feet.

In that moment, I had no greater need than the FaceTime call that came barely 30 minutes later. Her face and mine connected on a screen but that’s all I ever need.

The tears came strong but so did laughter and crippling tears of joy. Get to see her in two days’ time, to celebrate all weekend long.

This post has hurt so much to write. Sat with tears burning down my cheeks. God knows what they think, the people who can see.

I’ve never been so happy either, with him, with her, with me. They say you can’t pick your family but I choose to disagree.

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Hello

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I have a weekly face time catch up with a best friend of mine. A best friend I’ve actually only known two years, a best friend who’s been a best friend possibly less than a year but, regardless, the best of the best.

Doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone, all that matters is that they’re there.

But when you realise they are there, even when you didn’t expect it because you hadn’t asked them to be…that’s when you know just how special they are.

I cancelled last weeks’ FaceTime because I was incredibly stressed out for reasons discussed previously and also on that day Dad decided to visit.

I half-reluctantly met him and it was perfectly pleasant but I’m purely going through the motions now (I’m so fed up with him and would be happier without a connection…but mum begs me to stay in touch).

Anyway, a perfectly pleasant lunch ends with him saying its time I met my half-sibling. He spoke about him so casually throughout lunch, ‘oh Jason has exams soon…oh Jason’s doing this that and the other’ and it’s weird to hear my dad talk oh so normally about a half sibling he surprised us all with a few years ago. The half-sibling he dotes on so much more than he ever did me. One of the reasons I had to pick my mum up all those years ago, one of the reasons there’s no money left and mum can’t pay her bills. I wasn’t even 7 years old when dad started the affair, barely 15 when the kid came along and just 19 when I found photographs and letters and skype messages telling the truth. So much hurt from a man that never cared and yet mum asks me to ‘be nice because he’s still your father and he’s so stressed out.’

Oh yeah, let me just put the man who hurt me over the years, who hurt all of us, first. Let me put him first simply because he has the title of father when all he is in reality, is a glorified sperm donor.

I broke down when I got home after lunch – my head was all over – food was too much to contemplate and I hadn’t been sleeping due to nightmares and I simply didn’t want to be alone so I went to his house to spend the night. I text her apologising for cancelling with no other explanation other than ‘I’m really stressed out’ and she completely understood because great friends always understand.

But you know what an even better friend does?

This…

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I got this through the post on Monday and I cried. It took me completely by surprise and I cried. I sat on the kitchen floor and cried. I cried because I was slowly realising how much support I have. I’ve never doubted her support but this simply just got me. It went straight to my heart and seemed to release all that pain.

I hadn’t even told her any of the reasons why I cancelled because I’d been so busy the entire week. But that’s the thing. She didn’t need to know the ins and outs to be able to help me. She just knew something was up and that small postcard contained more support than you can even begin to imagine. A small postcard that has pride of place on my bedroom wall. A new daily reminder I can get through all this. A daily reminder that there are people there even when I don’t expect them to be.
Especially when they realise I need them before I do.
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Wise Words

 

Words are powerful. They can crush a heart or heal it. They can shame a soul or liberate it. They can shatter dreams or energise them. They can obstruct connection or invite it. They can create defences or melt them. We have to use words wisely. 

My motivation to write can come from a variety of sources and when I get an idea or the urge to write I take a picture to include with each post. Admittedly its usually a selfie or a picture of something I’ve done that day that’s made me happy but I never post the pictures where I’m sad.

The words from the small paragraph I’ve included above could not be truer. The picture on the left is from my morning coffee in the back garden and I took the one on the right about 5 hours later. The change is staggering and the reason for the change? One small sentence said to me shortly after the first picture was taken.

I would never usually take a selfie of me crying, desperately trying to hold myself together but I decided today I would. I wanted to show the reality. I want people to see the hurt and struggles that I still go through because no matter how hard I try to ignore it, no matter how hard I pretend I’m okay, there are days where I’m still in incredible amounts of pain.

Christmas is hard, notoriously hard for any sufferers and recoverers from EDs. I don’t really need to tell you all that, you already know but to hear my brother say to me, ‘if you’re going to be sick today can you at least clean the toilet because my girlfriend is coming round today and we don’t want the toilet to be dirty.’

His words echoed in my head and the tears came running. I really struggle with my recovery when I come home at any time of the year, let alone Christmas and to hear what really was an insensitive comment cut right through me. I hadn’t been sick this visit, I hadn’t purged, I hadn’t bent over the toilet with my fingers down my throat and yet his words…the thoughts came running, the tears came burning, the storm came thundering and then the fear set in.

I’ve been trying ever so hard this year to keep purge-free. So much so I’ve been coming across angry and grumpy to my family because I’m simply so stressed out. I wish they would understand a little bit more but I don’t know how to make them understand more. He realised he had hurt me and when he tried to make it better I screamed at him to leave me alone.

I’ve not screamed at anyone like that before.

But the thought was there now. Purge. I need to purge. I stared at the girl in the mirror and couldn’t believe how fat she looked compared to a week ago when she was alone in London. I needed a shower but all I could see was the fat girl in the mirror. God I wanted to smash that mirror. The thoughts were pounding and the girl became blurry as the tears stung and I could barely stand up, holding onto the sides of the sink desperately searching for some strength. Any ounce of strength.

Come on girl. I heard myself say. Pull yourself together. Its Christmas…

Christmas.

Every year.

Something happens.

That all happened about 30 minutes after that first picture was taken.

The second picture was taken shortly after Christmas Dinner.

I feel weak. I feel disgusting. I don’t want to write this out but I know I need to. I know admitting helps me recover.

I relapsed.

But I sunk to a whole new low.

In the past I’ve done some incredible things to hide the purge from others but I did something I’ve never done before.

I knew eyes and ears would be on me at home and I went to the park. I knew that would probably be empty. I found somewhere secluded. I checked no one was around. I tied my hair up. I took a final deep breath, shut my eyes and I bent over.

I relapsed.

And the relief came rushing. I felt that instant relief that I learnt to wrongly associate with positives all those years ago but then I cried. The vicious circle had started once again. I’m home now and no body knows, that makes me feel worse. 5 years in a row that I’ve relapsed on Christmas Day. I feel like I’ve failed even though I know I haven’t. I’m just hoping I can get a firmer handle on things tomorrow. That’s all I can do, take each day as it comes, keep aiming for small steps upwards.

 

I understand I can’t let everyone’s words affect me but I don’t see why I should lower my feelings because of someone’s choice of words or their ignorance. He didn’t mean what he said but it really damn well hurt at the time. It’s hard to get out of this claustrophobic house at the best of times, let alone when the Demon’s voice starts to scream.

The second half of the day was surprisingly amazing. The family bickering had stopped and we actually ended up having a great evening as a family. There’s always silver linings I suppose. There’s always laughter in sadness and hope in darkness.

There’s always progress to be made at every hurdle.

There was a time I was purging every day. That was a long time ago. That’s the progress I’ve made.

That’s what I should be proud of today.

And the below pictures of dad dancing with me on his shoulders…that’s the memory I want to remember about Christmas Day 2016.

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Parenting the Parents

 

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16 hours. 960 minutes. 57600 seconds is all it took for him to fuck up.

Yet again. As always. Once more the man messed up.

His actions have hurt me more than ever before.

I hate how much he’s hurt my entire family. I resent the pressure I have had to cope with to hold us all together when I can barely keep it together myself. I despise what he’s done but most of all, I hurt.

I simply hurt.

There’s no more room for anger if I’m honest. The anger has gone but the hurt resonates with every breath I take when he’s in the room. I can barely look at him anymore. I simply can’t be around him. But mum doesn’t understand and true to form she keeps begging me to try be happy, to put up with it, to pretend everything is fine for her sake.

I hate that guilt trip even more. The fact I love her can’t make me love my dad. The fact I care about her more than anything can’t make me pretend to be happy. I simply cannot pretend anymore. I’m mid-20s now and I’ve learnt how all this pretence since I was a child made my mental health deteriorate so rapidly.

I’m incredibly close to my mum and I always have been but sometimes I truly resent the fact she kept this man in my life. Sometimes I wish, oh do I wish, she had taken him out of our lives because he has brought nothing but pain. She always ends up on the other end of the phone, crying, screaming about what he’s done now and sometimes about how she wants to die. So why doesn’t she leave? I want her to leave and so does my brother…my closest friend who won’t come home yet for Christmas because dad is here.

At least he can use his girlfriend as an excuse. I have no excuse not to come home for Christmas.

I do appreciate you can’t interfere with someone’s relationship but I have been coping with these breakdowns since I was I was a teenager. I have tried to hold us up for so many years. I have held it together for as long as I can but some days I simply can’t do it.

I saw my best friends today. 15 years and counting and now two have the cutest babies ever. He was only 4 days old. I held this little bundle of cuteness who was 4 days old and we all caught up. The thing about my Newcastle friends, my old school friends, is that we have all truly gone through some horrific things, somewhat similar things, and we can all relate to each other on a level that I have never had with any other friends.

Something interesting was said though when we were commenting on how surreal it feels that two are parents now:

Well, we’ve all basically been parenting our parents since we were teenagers haven’t we?

It is a sad thought though, isn’t it? I know my life has not been bad but that doesn’t mean bad things haven’t happened to me. Through all the pain caused by my dad and the accidental guilt trips by my mum, I was forced to grow up at a very young age. We all were. Other people also forced us to become adults before we were due but it’s very clear that all of us are at that stage where we can’t keep parenting our parents anymore.

Mum says she just wants a happy Christmas so why can’t I just put up with dad? My argument is, if you want a ‘happy Christmas’ why do you keep the man who just brings us sadness? I want to make her happy, but why does making her happy have to make me so sad?

Wouldn’t it be nice to look after myself?

Isn’t it sad how I cannot wait for the day I have an excuse not to be here when he is? Isn’t it sad how I was desperately searching for NYE plans, any sort of plan so I didn’t have to be here? Isn’t it sad how I’m spending the days out the house on my own, pretending I’m with other people, just so I don’t have to be around him?

I just want to look after me.

I’m looking forward to the day when someone wants to look after me.

When someone wants to make me happy.

When I can simply be happy at Christmas without having to pretend.

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Yummy Mummy #1

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Making Peace With The Mirror

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It’s oh so cliched but I need to start measuring myself in strength and not pounds. But why does something so simple feel so incredibly hard?

People see my smile on a daily basis. They hear my laugh at least once an hour and that’s what I’m best known for. The girl who’s always smiling. That’s why they all notice when the smile isn’t there.

I’m doing well and visiting my cousins this weekend was so amazing. I had incredible fun but there was so much food.

So.
Much.
Food.

And drink. There was a lot to eat and more to drink and as hard as I tried I couldn’t get that Demon’s voice out of my head. I was filled with panic whenever food was brought to me. I spent hours fearing just when they’d expect me to eat or drink next.

Simply in fear of the calories.

Just say no. I hear you say.

Just say no. I kept hearing myself say.

But how do you say no to breakfast, lunch and dinner?

How do you say no to a glass of wine at a party your family is hosting?

Should you say no to three normal meals?

You might not, but I always tell myself that I have to say no. That I’ve still got fat to lose.

My perspective has always been a touch twisted. According to others, I always see myself bigger than what I am. I never seem to care about any part of my body other than my stomach. Always looking at it. Hoping it doesn’t look big. Hoping, desperate to not see a fat girl staring back at me.

Sadly, most days I still do.

I never feel good enough because I was never allowed to feel good enough.

It truly was an amazing weekend and I needed it. I loved seeing my older cousin and messing around with my younger ones in the middle of the most gorgeous countryside. A world away from the tall glass buildings I’ve gotten accustomed to in London.

There’s more to life than avoiding my reflection.

There’s more to life than letting the scales define my day.

There’s more to me than I believe.

There’s more to me.

Perhaps I still need a little bit of help truly realising that.

It sounds silly, but if I get drunk I get a little bit cocky. What I mean is, I know I’m perfect the way I am, I know I’m really quite something, that I’ve achieved things many people dream of, that my friends love me for me, that my smile can infect the whole room, that I am just fine. Drunken words are a sober man’s thoughts after all.

But when it comes to a normal day I do get riddled with self-doubt. I think that being thinner means being perfect but surely not. Surely there’s more? I get the whole, you’ve got to love yourself first and I do but I can’t help but occasionally think of the friends and boys who have used me. Taken advantage. Assaulted me. It all makes me feel that I might not be worth it.

But I know I am. We all are. Sometimes it takes a heartbreak to shake us awake and help us see we are worth so much more than we are settling for. We’re all worth so much more than we think we are.

It’s just that mirror, those scales and the Demon in my head.

At the end of the day, there is no scale that can measure just how incredibly precious we are. Long gone are the days where every single day was dependent on mirrors and scales. Just got to push through and keep going. Head up and push through these last couple of tough days.

I’ve made it through a mentally challenging weekend and I can’t ask for more than that. There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upwards: an easier day, an unexpected laugh…a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.

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