Hello Old Friend

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Guess what I did last night? For the first time in 18-months?

I went swimming.

And I still can’t quite believe it myself.

I don’t know why or when I decided to I just knew I wanted to go swimming and so I did. I dug out my old costume, hat, goggles, grabbed a towel and off I went. It was mentally challenging though. I’ve genuinely had this fear of going swimming since I retired a year and a half ago.

There’s so many negative memories associated with being in a tiny little bitty swimming costume at the pool with eyes everywhere. Eyes that feel as though they’re focusing on every inch of my body that I’m uncomfortable with. When I retired from elite sport a lot of people did ask would I ever swim again and I would forcefully say no. I thought I couldn’t. The pain there, the hurt associated with so many memories was too much for me to contemplate ever entering the pool again.

It was hard though. I pulled out my swimming costume and shuddered at the thought of putting it on. I was scared about how it would fit, how I would feel, would people look at me? But I did it anyway. I put that fear to one side, I fought back the painful memories that were digging their claws in and I put it on. I walked out to poolside and I jumped in the deep end (pardon the pun).

I. Felt. Amazing.

I was back in that water, the water I fell in love with when I was less than a year old. And I’ll tell you something…I still got it! I still got that feel for the water and the technique that makes gliding through the pool feel like the easiest thing in the world and I damn well loved it.

I am so unbelievably proud of myself. Not being able to go swimming, something that I love, has been such a hurdle in my recovery and the fact I simply woke up one day and decided I wanted to go for a swim says huge things about where I am right now. To be able to put those feelings of dread to one side, all those things I fear to the back of my mind and go for a simple swim. I felt so free in that water, I felt like nothing could weigh me down and that smile I had on my face once I left the pool? That smile was there all night long. (Evidenced by a quick snapchat to all those who know just how major this is, of course).

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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

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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.

Working It Out

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Today’s been a bad day but on the same hand one of my better ones. It’s so contradictory, I know but I’m pleased with where I am right now in this very moment.

As usual my day started off with the standard family stress but today I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m in the middle with my mum breaking down to me on the phone and my dad pressuring me to send him all my money. We had an agreement that I would look after that money so me and my brother could have deposits for houses in the future but now he’s trying to take it and I will happily support my mum but I’m getting fed up of my dad. Strictly speaking he’s been paying for that whore for 14 years…14 years of his and mum’s money being spent elsewhere…14 years that has led to him taking mine and my brother’s savings, the inheritance meant to help us start our own families one day.

I feel like I can’t cope with it anymore. When I hung up on mum I ended up crying in the middle of the street and I couldn’t stop. I tried to find a place that was quiet so I could try hide from the masses around me but I couldn’t and I felt like I was suffocating. I couldn’t breathe in this crowd and I was fighting to keep the tears from falling but in the end I couldn’t. They burnt and they stung my cheeks as they started to come and I desperately tried to find an empty corner or side street to run to but there wasn’t anywhere, so I lowered my head and made my way home whilst the tears kept running.

I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I can’t do this anymore, I can’t cope with this stress, I want all my family to leave. I want them to stop pressuring me, I don’t want this financial stress, they can take the money and fight between themselves, I don’t want anything to do with the money anymore, its caused so many problems sitting there and I wish, oh i wish I could just fuck off and leave them all behind. That’s my inheritance…my mum’s hard-earned cash and savings that is meant for me and John but dad is trying to take it and once he takes it, it’ll go to that fucking whore.

I was sick. I didn’t even try not to be. I just went to the bathroom and put my fingers down my throat. Its so bad that its not even to be skinny…its turning into a coping mechanism again. Something to take all the pain away because its the only way I know how.

But then, I went to the gym. I went to the one a few streets down and opened a membership and after 2 hours I went for a bit. I only managed 30 minutes cardio but considering I’ve not been able to do any real exercise for a long time I think that’s alright. I do know its not the best idea seeing as I purged. But I went to the gym, made sure I drank a lot and afterwards I went for sushi. Expensive food for my bank account right now but at least I ate something. At least I exercised. At least I got the remainder of my anger and pain out on the treadmill and not down the toilet.

And I’m proud that I finally went. It’s silly but because I feel so fat most days, I’m almost embarrassed to go to the gym. It’s so contradictory, we go there to better ourselves but it also acts as such a self-conscious environment. I’m pleased with myself. I’ve drawn up an exercise plan for the rest of the month and yeah, it might be too much, but hopefully I can find where my fitness is and start building myself up again. Not just physically but mentally too.

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Be mine

I feel terrible saying this because of what happened last week. I tried to talk about it but it was still too raw, and he felt I was justifying what happened. I do understand that.

But I want to go out. I want my boyfriend to come with me.

To be proud to come out with me. To want to be seen holding my hand.

To show everyone that I’m his.

I hate going to parties and the like without him. Everyone asking why my boyfriend wouldn’t come with me.

I want to have romantic meals, or a walk in the park.

I want him to show me off to his friends and to let me show him off to mine.

I want to go to a party and dance with my boyfriend rather than dancing on my own.

I hate seeing other couples there, holding hands, dancing, cuddling, kissing.

I love him so why does he not want to come for a drink with me, to a party, to a BBQ. He doesn’t even have to pay for it.

Just come with me. Be with me. Outside of the flat.

I want to go to a party, have a drink and a dance but with him. Not with my friends…not having to stop guys from trying to dance with me.

And the more I drink the more I wish he could be there with me, dancing, holding my hand. Just there with me.

So I drink more.

I drank more.

But I have no argument. No leg to stand on. Not any more.

I want to be looked at as though I am the most beautiful girl in the world. I want him to hold my hand on the walk home. I want to be treated like I’m not something to be lost. I want him to be there and just know that he can’t be without me.

I want him to meet my friends and I want to meet his.

I want him to show how proud he is to be mine…

How proud he is, for me to be his…

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The Ex-Almost

It wasn’t really anything.

You couldn’t truly call it something.

It didn’t amount to much.

Neither of them did.

He was never realistically going to be your boyfriend.

You weren’t truly dating.

It didn’t amount to a fling.

But I still felt something.

I still fell for that guy the guy that was never going to be. And boy did I fall hard.

The ex-could-have-been.

The ex-what-if?

The ex-almost.

And if falling for the ex-almost wasn’t bad enough. I ended up falling for another one just a couple of weeks later.

In hindsight, I think I definitely fell for one that little bit more than the other. In fact, it was the one that was so out of my reach that I fell for the most. And I told myself not to, I knew nothing was ever going to happen. I knew it wasn’t serious and I told myself not to do it, not to fall for him, but I did.

I didn’t necessarily want a relationship and in fact I was scared of one. I was scared of opening up to a potential-something about my eating disorder and so I never did. It was something I was frightened of being judged upon, convinced I didn’t deserve anyone because I was so broken. Yet at the same time I wanted someone to fix me. I wanted to mean something to someone and I wanted someone to mean something to me.

I wasn’t looking for a relationship with either ex-almost but there was some potential with one and yet I think I fell for the other more. Admittedly, perhaps, my second ex-almost came at a time when I needed him and, although that makes him sound like a rebound, he wasn’t anything of the sort.

I was hurt by the way my first ex-almost ended things and I felt he could have handled it better. After a weekend where he accidentally stood me up…yes….that girl got accidentally stood up…on valentines day…yes…she did…then a last minute get together the day after, and suddenly he just didn’t want to talk to me. It wasn’t hard to get the picture from his messages. I knew he was busy and I didn’t mind that, but when you get with someone and they suddenly act as if they don’t want anything to do with you, its so easy to jump to the wrong conclusions. And in hindsight, I think that I did.

I never set out looking for something serious and I knew it was never going to be that. I knew from the beginning and I was under no false pretences. In fact, I think that’s why I allowed myself to go there in the first place, because I was scared of ‘serious’ and knew this was never going to be anything of the sort.

I didn’t even hang out with him that much and I tried to keep my emotions in check but I let myself feel something. I let myself fall. And that’s why I was so hurt. I felt I could have protected myself better. I felt like I had been so stupid. But I fell for him and there’s no denying that.

24 hours of feeling sorry for myself and ex-almost number two accidentally comes along. Genuinely by accident. I still thought I wasn’t after something serious but this was the first time I let down that wall. I told him about my eating disorder and he didn’t judge me, in fact, he made me feel better. He took away some of the shame and the internal stigma seemed to fade.

For the first time I let myself consider the potential of being in a relationship. The first time since my long-term ex who had hurt me so badly over and over again. I had happily had fun with friends and had also turned down guys who were interested in something more. But for the first time I let myself open up and when he told me he didn’t want anything more than what we ‘were’, a pretty debatable term seeing as neither of us had a clue what we ‘were’ anyway, I was heartbroken.

I couldn’t understand it though.

I genuinely couldn’t work out why I felt so much pain. I didn’t understand the emotion.

I hadn’t known him long. Nothing we were doing indicated something serious in the future. We hadn’t really dated and we weren’t truly treating each other as a fling. So why did it hurt? Why was I crying down the phone to my best friend? Why was I running home to Newcastle because all I wanted was a hug from my mum?

Back then I didn’t know. But now I do.

That was the trigger moment.

That was when I relapsed.

And it wasn’t their fault. I would hate for anyone reading this to think that either of my ex-almosts treated me badly. They didn’t. In fact, they were honest and I can’t ask for more than that. I had been with guys before who weren’t going to amount to anything so I couldn’t understand why I was hurting so bad over these two.

It’s because I felt as if everything had gone. I had no swimming. I was struggling with my workload. I had gained weight. And the two things that potentially helped me feel normal, that maintained the small glow of positive thoughts in my head had gone.

The thing I miss about my first ex-almost was the banter. I have no idea if he felt the same, or if he considered me completely mental (which is probably true) but I actually enjoyed chatting to him and he made me laugh nearly every day. There was never much flirting but when we did it was good. I mean, it was good. I didn’t really have that with my second ex-almost. He was handsome, sweet, funny and I loved that he was ambitious but I think I was hurting because I felt as if I had lost a friend in the first.

I was missing the near-daily conversations. I noticed I wasn’t getting texts that made me smile in the way that his did. I felt like I had lost something and I wanted it back but I had to accept that it was gone. It was impossible to be friends with him. And I felt weak. I felt weak for needing his friendship. How did I become dependent on someone I only met about 5 weeks earlier?

But I ended up surprised. A month or so later when I was at rock bottom, when I felt like the world was caving in and I had nowhere to turn, he ended up being there. 2 months later he was there and it was completely unexpected. I may have foolishly written something on social media but it never once crossed my mind he would read it and contact me.

I actually remember it happening. I remember the three-way-emergency-skype-call I was having with my best friends and just as we were signing off he text me. Those two were just as shocked as me! I remember dropping my phone and was actually momentarily scared to look at it because I couldn’t work out why in the world he would be texting me.

He said he didn’t want to be weird but could tell something was up and wanted to see if I was alright.

It hurt so much but I let myself open up. I was sat crying on my bed but I let myself tell him what was going on. I ignored the voice telling me to be ‘strong’ by remaining silent and I told him. He reacted better than I ever expected. And that was when I realised something. He didn’t have to text me. He didn’t have to notice I was down and reach out. But he did. This ex-almost cared.

This ex-almost was a friend.

I still don’t truly understand it but his words helped me more than he will ever realise. I realised I didn’t necessarily fall for him in the romantic sense, but the way in which you fall for a friend. As crazy as that sounds, that is how I can best describe it and that was why I hurt when he didn’t really want to be friends anymore. Because boys come and boys go. Relationships start and relationships end. But it is your friends that are there throughout it all. And whilst I was on the verge of relapse that was what I needed. I needed friends and I felt as if I had lost one.

And whilst ex-almost number two was a wonderful guy, he almost acted as a distraction, as soon as he left, I was reminded of the friend I had lost. And it wasn’t until he text me that I realised I hadn’t really lost him at all. He was there, and yes, we weren’t talking, and yes, I’m yet to actually speak to him rather than just wave at him in the library, but he was there when other people weren’t. He was one of the people who didn’t know about my eating disorder on but he was the one who wanted to check if I was alright.

He’s still an ex-almost but more importantly, in that one moment, on that one friday night, he was a friend. He was exactly what I needed right there and then and even though he doesn’t know it, I’ll never forget him or his influence in my recovery.

The (Internal) Stigma

If you asked me to describe myself in several words I would probably say something along the lines of, small, loud, crazy, fun-loving, always laughing, confident, and happy. Mainly, because, for the most-part those words are genuinely a true description of me.

But that’s how I would describe myself to you.

If I were to describe myself to me, the words couldn’t be more different. Fat. Ugly. Weak. Unwanted. Shameful. Worthless. Disgusting. Scarred. Mainly, because, for the most-part those words are genuinely what I believe to be a true description of me.

Everyday I wake up and I go and stand in front of that mirror and, for some reason, I willingly say those words to myself. I stand there and look at every inch of fat on me and hate myself for it. I stand there wishing that girl was skinnier. Fitter. Prettier. I wrongly believe that everything, including my happiness, depends on my weight and I let that demon whisper in my head. I don’t try to fight it off, I listen to the whispers of, ‘you’re so fat, and ugly, and weak’. I let it tell me that I’m ‘worthless and don’t deserve anyone whilst I’m so fat’. I truly believe that when I walk out the house everyone I walk past is going to take one look at me and confirm that those words are true inside their own heads.

I know its not true but the fact of the matter is that, right now, it does not matter how many people tell me I’m beautiful, because I simply do not and will not see it. I’ve not felt beautiful since December, and I’ve not felt perfect since February.

It’s funny how the last time I felt ‘beautiful’ doesn’t coincide with the last time I felt ‘perfect’.

I felt beautiful because I was slimmer in December. Having shoulder surgery, however, meant that what was once a 36 hour training week became nothing at all. I inevitably gained some weight and I was so unhappy for it. However, due to my lack of training I was able, for the first time, to go out with my friends on nights out and I actually enjoyed it. Naturally, boys slowly came into the equation. At first, I thought people were messing me around, I thought I was that fat girl who was the inevitable joke. But I slowly realised this wasn’t the case. Some of my friends were genuinely interested in me and as much as I’ve never needed validation from a guy, it gave me confidence. It made me sit back and think that maybe, just maybe, I was alright. I wasn’t as ugly or as fat as I thought I was.

Yeah. I was alright.

But the weight kept increasing. And when I reached 58kg at the end of January I couldn’t handle it. The whispers became louder and I started skipping my meals and the purging slowly crept back into a regular habit. I began hating myself, I can remember sitting in front of the mirror and crying. I hated that girl starring back at me. She was so fat and it was her own stupid fault for gaining the weight. I remember wanting to smash it, I was in so much pain and my heart was breaking. I couldn’t stop the tears, I couldn’t purge because I hadn’t eaten and I couldn’t even bring myself to stand up because my legs were so weak. I hated that girl. I hated her.

I hated me.

And that was the first, and I am glad to say the only, time that I cut myself.

I felt as if I deserved it. As if I deserved to be in pain for being so stupid as to gain weight. As if I deserved to be as scarred on the outside as I felt on the inside. I felt like I had all this pain in my heart and I couldn’t get rid of it. I wanted it to leave so badly, I wanted to be that smiley, bubbly girl again and I hated the fact I was so broken. I wanted to be normal. But that girl had never been normal from the day she was born. I had all this pain and hurt and anger and I couldn’t get rid of it. The demon whispering in my head began to shout and I wanted it to stop. Even the fact I only cut the back of my hand, because deep down I didn’t want to seriously hurt myself, made me feel weak. I hated myself and cutting the back of my hand let me get that anger out. I felt like I was hurting that girl in the mirror because I hated her. It didn’t feel like I was hurting me.

I think the best way of describing it is that I wanted some physical pain to match the mental pain that was breaking my heart. Almost as if physical pain would draw away from the mental pain. You can do something constructive about physical pain; you can put a bandage on it, you can fix it. Mental pain is so much different and you feel so out of control, like you can’t fix it but surely you should be able to fix mental pain yourself? Just stop thinking all those negative thoughts.

I wish it really were that simple.

Although I cut myself I wasn’t truly fully relapsed then, as hard as that may be to believe. Over those two months there was something that helped me and yes, it involved a boy. Two boys to be exact. This was the time when I didn’t feel beautiful, but I felt perfect.

So, I had gained weight. But cutting my wrists forced me to open up to my family and best friends and they were there immediately to help. I felt stronger because they knew I was struggling and they were going above and beyond to help me feel better. To be stronger.

I met a guy and even though I knew things weren’t going ‘anywhere’ he made me feel perfect because when I was with him I was genuinely my normal loud crazy self, talking about the most random crap and the ‘banter’, for want of a better word, was great. For the first time since I broke up with my long-term ex I actually thought I guy didn’t like me because I was slim and, therefore, beautiful, but that a guy actually liked me for me. So although I was fatter than I was in December I actually felt perfect. He made me feel perfect.

It makes me smile to think about that time because I can remember how during that month I was genuinely so happy and me and my friends were having such a good time as well. I remember our girl nights out and they were hilarious. I remember the group chats that made me cry with laughter. I remember sitting with them at Piccadilly station whilst they were waiting for their trains simply because that was where I wanted to be; with them. To be with them made me so happy. For once I was happy with the way I was. I didn’t feel beautiful. I still wanted to lose weight. But for once I was happy.

I was happy because of the people I chose to surround myself with.

I didn’t know what ‘it’  was but I knew ‘it’ could never be serious but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt when this guy ended ‘it’.

But as one door closes another one opens and a different guy accidentally stumbled into my life. And I was genuinely surprised at just how much I liked him in such a short space of time.

If I didn’t know what was going on with the first one I most definitely didn’t have a clue with this one! Admittedly, I don’t think either of us knew what to make of the situation. Again, he ended it and he did so for all the right reasons. He told me that he didn’t want me to be ‘a bit of fun’, but then he didn’t want to lead me on either and end up hurting me a few months down the line.

That was a bit of a whirlwind that I’m not going forget quickly. Although I appreciated his honesty, I almost hated it. Its easier to hate someone than to accept their kind actions which happen to cause you pain.  However, for the very first time I opened up to a guy about my eating disorder. I thought he would run a mile, but he didn’t. The problem was that when he did end it, I couldn’t help but listen to that whisper of, ‘well why would he want to be with you anyway when you’re so broken.’

I know deep down that wasn’t the case. I know he isn’t the type of guy to have judged me on that and he was the first guy who made me feel as if there was nothing to be ashamed of. We didn’t talk about it much more, and admittedly we didn’t even hang out much more, but I never once felt as if he judged me because of it.

And that’s the thing.

I constantly believe that if I open up to people they’re going to judge me. I feel that they’re going to hear me say those words, ‘I have an eating disorder’, and they’re going to think I’m weak, disgusting, broken, worthless, fat. All those words I say to myself every day that I wake up and look in the mirror.

But that’s just it. There is no stigma with eating disorders. Well, there is, but its internal. Its me saying those hurtful things. Not my friends. Not the people in the street. Not those two guys, both of which turned out to be friends. Its me. I see myself that way and that means that only I can change that.

I always assume people will react negatively to my eating disorder and that makes me scared to open up but they don’t. I feel they won’t understand, and they might not, but they always try to understand. My friends can tell me I’m beautiful and perfect, and I genuinely don’t need a guy to make me feel that way, but until I see it, until I get rid of that internal stigma regarding my eating disorder, I’ll never become that happy girl I used to be.

And I want to be that girl again. And there are days that I am. I just need more of those days but I feel like I’m getting there. Slowly, but surely, because the days where I am happiest are when I am laughing with my friends and it is those moments where I don’t have a care in the world about my weight. I’m laughing because I’m happy. Because in that moment I am perfect, and I don’t need to stare in a mirror to confirm that.

It’s still raining but it’s a little bit lighter today.

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