Saturday, 3 September 2011

Blunt conversations over lunch

"Do you hate Harry?" asked Rob,
"Well, I just thought... you just said you hated men, that Harry might be one... because you haven't seen him since..."
"I don't know the guy. How can I hate him." I retorted aggressively.
"Ok, ok" he said, surrendering,
"I only have myself to blame for everything with Harry. I only have myself to blame."

We were sitting on the top of One New Change again eating our salads. I was angry. Talking about relationships always made me angry. I hate men, it's true, I hate them, I hate them for the power they have over me, the desire that I can't control, the need that I have for them. I hate men. I hate all the men that I have starved for, thrown up for, taken laxatives for, exercised for, wasted my money for and wasted my precious time on. I hate them all for leaving me with nothing but a sick, empty, worthless feeling in the pit of my rotten stomach. All the men that I have never meant anything to except a kiss or a shag. Fuck them all.

Rob's words confirmed that Harry was over. The door that closed behind me on that Saturday morning was never to open up for me again. I knew it, but I still wanted to hope, wanted to believe, that maybe, maybe someone found me loveable.

I was in an appalling mood for the rest of the day. The mirrors were my worst enemy. I stood in the toilets repeatedly staring at my puffy face. There was nothing I could do.
There was nothing I could do.

"He's an investment banker," Rob had said, "He can have anyone he wants."

I wanted to rip my body to shreds.

What a shit week.
No days spent in the gym, lots of bingeing and lots of throwing up followed of course by bingeing.
No pencil skirts this week.
My body has been clogged up, my tummy swollen beyond disguise. Filthy. Disgusting.

Yesterday I told Rob and Rhianna the truth. I'd already told them a few weeks back that I "used to have a severe eating disorder". It started when Rhianna began to push me to come out after work:
"Come on... just one drink!"
"No, I'm really not in the mood, I feel like shit, look like shit and have had a shit week."
"Aww really?"
"I've not felt this bad in a long time. A long time." I said grimly.
"Why - because of me?" added Rob,
"Because of a lot of things."

Yeah, Rob had been an arsehole, he'd been an arsehole for weeks, mocking me for eating only soup at lunch, mocking me about Harry, objectifying every woman that walked past, talking about them as if they were pieces of meat, calling them names if they were anything less than stunning. I'd had the final straw the day before. Not only did I have to endure lunch at a gourmet burger restaurant while he made crass comments about the waitresses, he ended the lunch break with a stupid joke about Harry not calling me. I sat at my desk raging, wanting to pick up the nearest heavy item and hurl it at the wall. I was so mad. I wanted to scream abuse at him.
Men like him were the reason I felt all this pain.
This was a stupid friendship. Spending time with him was not going to help me become the strong, confident, happy woman I want to be.

Rhianna knew, and as she quizzed me about my problems, I found no need to lie.
"It's good that you can be so open about it", she said.
"Well, you know what? The reason why eating disorders are such a secretive illness, the reason why so many people never get help, the reason why there's so much shame affiliated with them is because people don't talk about it. It's such a taboo subject, it's something to be ashamed of. Well I'm not ashamed. Why should I be."
Rob was silent, head down and staring at his shoes. I'd never seen him with nothing to say. I should have felt bad for making him feel uncomfortable but I wasn't at all. I was being so brazen and blunt about my eating disorder because I had had to put up with his constant insensitive 'joking' about my obsession with healthy eating and my weight. Yesterday had been the final straw and I was so angry with him for being the creature misogynist he is. There is a lot about Rob that I hate. A filthy, male creature - and as his best friend, Harry was obviously going to have been the same.
Rhianna talked about her friend back home who was still suffering, I understood all she told me.
"You can tell," she said, "when they're throwing up, their face swells."
I smiled. "Like mine."
"You still do it?"
"I throw up every day."

I explained to them that I don't believe I'll ever fully recover.
"My eating disorder is like many illnesses, like asthma for example, you can't get rid of it, you just have to learn how to control it so that it doesn't take over and destroy your life. I have no intention of giving it up. It's a way of life, it's normal for me, I have no idea how to live without an eating disorder, I can't remember what it's like.
But honestly, this is the happiest I've been in years."

"Your BBM picture", said Rhianna, "that's when you were really thin?"
I nodded.


  1. It is such a taboo subject, you're right. It's hard to be honest with people about it without most of them having a preconceived image or stereotype of what people with eating disorders are like. It's hard to be open about it when people don't really understand and forget that you are a person and NOT the eating disorder.

    I understand you on the not being ashamed of it part. I don't see why we should feel ashamed of something we can't fully control. It's not our fault we're like this.

  2. I'm really impressed that you just came out with the truth. Also, it's kind of sad the concept that the ED never goes away. It's sad but very true.

  3. "He's an investment banker," Rob had said, "He can have anyone he wants."
    although i do not believe in the concept of a person being able to have anyone, i know one thing for a fact: that evening harry clearly wanted you, ophelia, you, out of everyone. whatever is was that did not made him call after you: it wasn't your appearance. i guess it wasn't about anything regarding your person at all.

    you are brave.and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

  4. I don't know how i fell into this slump of eating disorder. i can't get out of it. and i can never be u and be open about it either.. sometimes i wonder if i can stop


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