I can feel it happening – there are tremors in my joints when I move, and things crawling at the edges of my vision, which disappear when I flick my eyes to look at them; a sensation of nausea crawls across my skin, engulfing me, leaving me goosebumped and ashamed – the anxiety is back, and it’s my own fault.
Today was going to be fine – it’s Niece’s birthday party later, and I’m going to blow up balloons, take them to an indoor play place in my car, and watch them all get popped by a hoard of sugar-hyped five year-olds. There might be hugs, if she lets me, and I’ll have to pay extra attention to Neff, who will be along for the ride. I need to find my way there on Google maps so I don’t get lost. I mustn’t be late. Really, really mustn’t be late.
Because punctuality – that polite sign of respect which is so fucking SIMPLE to do – is something I’m failing at, bigtime. Across the board. Late to work consistently enough to nearly end up on disciplinary measures. Late home. Late to boxing so I sneak in and miss the warm-up. Late to friends’ houses when I go. Late to Mum’s for dinner each week. I am constantly chasing the clock and resenting it and yet I cannot overcome my somehow-determined efforts to self-sabotage.
I was going to go to church this morning and yet as I sat (‘Alone, @laptop’, which for the last week has been scrawled an embarrassing number of times into the food diary I’m keeping) I got sucked in and left it too late, and watched the minutes run away like sand through my fingers and I wasn’t even TRYING to hold on. I gave up. I thought I’d get there late. Then the feelings began and rose like the tide and overwhelmed me, because if I went to church then…not that I would have to see people, but they would see ME…and we’d have to talk. THIS is why I minimise contact in Real Life…THIS is what I can’t stand. Or is it?
I brushed my teeth and lamented my tardiness and I realised that amidst the whiteness of the foam, a dark spot – blood – was showing through. I’ve bitten my lip overnight and not noticed. And I’m clearly not doing well at brushing my teeth because I’ve stopped and wandered off into thoughts again, and the thought returns that my tablet is still on the counter in the kitchen, and I’m going to have to get back to my Soulie, who just sent me a music video of Queen’s ‘You’re my Best Friend’, and I’m going to have to tell him that no, I’m not going to listen to it ‘after church’ because now I’m not going, that would be a LIE. Damnit.
I decide to do something self-nurturing, while I still care enough to, and have a shower. Whilst changing, I wrinkle my nose in disgust at the hairiness of my body at the moment (reaction to a starvation diet? rather adds insult to injury!) and recall the recent jubilance of a friend who “surpassed 110lb” and inspect my body in the mirror with quiet repulsion lodged in the back of my throat, seeing all the places where I wish, I wish, I could lose 30lb because 110lb is clearly achieveable by SOME…
My reflection stares back, lumpen, resigned, defeated by The Fat Girl who I can hear crowing from a distance about how she’s going to reclaim me, and how it’s who I truly am. Revolting. Blubbery. Vile.
I’m cold, which is good because it might burn a calorie, and seeing myself in the mirror has strengthened my resolve not to have carbs for lunch or cake at the party and the nag in my brain reminds me that my therapist told me that one of the ‘non-negotiables’ of treatment is that I consent to NOT TRY to lose more weight while I’m seeing her, but FUCK! it’s JUST AFTER CHRISTMAS?! Who even DOES that? What a stupid time to try to get treatment for an eating disorder I’m too fat to have. Too, too fat although the ‘disorder’ is in my brain and linked to anxiety, and everyone tells me I look fine; GOOD, even, so I know that I was BAD before, and that losing more weight means I can be EVEN BETTER and I’m disappointed because those sharp angles and slender bones are so beyond me I feel like crying…
I start my shower, realising I have no new soap, which sucks, but is par for the course and I accept my failure as an irritation. Shave my legs. Only half, because what’s the point? Step into the water and remember that the pink is fading from my hair and beginning to look silly and think that I probably won’t bother re-dying it today, even though I’d like it done.
My whole body is still shaking and that grinding anxiety in my joints is making me feel dizzy. I’m cold…turning the shower up doesn’t help – it’s like my skin has forgotten how to feel. The lather I’m making with the soap (which breaks because it’s so thin, and drops into the stream of water, skittering away down the tub) just accentuates the slimy, awful feeling of the flab which encases me – why can I feel THAT?!
My skin is red, and I’m still not warm, and am composing this post in my head, wondering about your reaction. I decide not to show it to anyone first, because I can’t bear the thought of the pity or the concern or the anger which might come back at me. This will be a nasty surprise, and there’s a reason which is slowly occurring to me, though I think I knew it all along.
Why is the hottest setting on the shower not burning me? I normally can’t stand it this hot. I hate being cold in the middle and that everything seems numb. I’m glad I didn’t go to church and that no-one has to see me. It’s ironic that with #1000Speak and my challenges to other bloggers about getting their act together about self-compassion, that I’m utterly useless at it. My therapist told me that there are ‘cons’ to getting over the eating disorder because there are “things which it does for me” and that made me angry at first, but here in the water, wishing it would melt my fat, and trying not to gag as I see it roll and bulge when I rinse the soap away, I think she’s right – if only, if only it could make me thin. If only I wasn’t a failure at it. If only I didn’t have this preoccupation with my physical shape then I could get on and be an acceptable human and NOT SO DAMN BORING ABOUT FOOD ALL THE FUCKING TIME, because it wouldn’t matter.
Later this year I’m travelling to America to meet a load of bloggy friends. It’s one of the high points of my life at the moment and I’m CLINGING to it. To the prospect of meeting these people whose hearts and souls I adore. And I’m also terrified. Because they will see me. And I will be ashamed (at least, if I turn up looking like I do now, I will be!) and stressed (if I don’t kick this bad brain pattern) because they are going to want to feed me…as evidenced when a Facebook conversation about Cheez-its and ‘whole box’ and ‘you’ll eat them’ turned into ‘I’ll have to get you to try this’ and ‘I can’t wait to feed you’ turned into a huge, constricting panic that they’re going to feed me ALL THE THINGS and from politeness I’ll have to eat, or risk giving offense, and I won’t be able to exercise…and…and…and…
Only seven hours exercise this week? Pathetic really, because most people probably don’t do that much and somehow I *still* can’t make the fat GO AWAY, and it’s pissing me off. Even though I’m now signed up to be a boxing instructor (still ASTONISHED they asked…I should probably kick this ED for that reason, too – who wants to learn to box from a screw-up?) it’s so that I have a reason to keep training, and I can tell my therapist “Ah but I need to be HEALTHY and STRONG – the weight loss is just a by-product” and she won’t know (will she?) how much the by-product is pushing me into terrifying challenges as a way of getting around her non-negotiables but I’m STILL NOT THIN so it’s safe, and anyway, surely a challenge is good for me?
She lauds my ability to self-analyse. Little does she know…
I get out of the shower, determined to write this because it needs to get out. I wonder, idly, about saving it or publishing it elsewhere or submitting it to some Big Blog Site, as though it’s worthwhile, or perhaps so I can hide it – say the things without them being attached to THIS site, where I’m all about encouragement and Life in Silver Linings and compassion and #1000Speak and success and celebrating thankfuls and triumphs over adversity, and how much THIS thing will undermine all that. And anyway, it’s just a giant wobble off the ‘normal’ into narcissism and self-indulgence and it won’t ALWAYS feel like this and maybe I shouldn’t write it at all… and I decide that I won’t send it elsewhere – I’ll write it, because it’s in me to write.
I’ll hit publish, without the fear of judgement or repercussion, because if you DO judge me …and you will, because how could you NOT?! This – all of it – is fucking ridiculous and the product of a mind which is NOT hanging on very well; which is struggling and floundering and failing, and whatever the source of your anger – that I hid it; that I’m pushing people away; that I’m double-crossing my therapist and NOT HELPING MYSELF; that I didn’t take your advice; that this whole post is just badly fucking written or that I’m swearing too much… I will be okay.
Because it’s a big, fucking, messy, awful failure. An inversion of all that I stand for and here’s why I always tell people that I’m heavily self-edited, and that I should never be lauded or put on a pedestal, and why the idea of people liking me or my ideas or (this was a shocker, the other day) thinking I’m any kind of Big Deal... It’s a complete and utter let-down. Something which reveals that ‘big secret’ that really, in spite of everything as it appears, and the ways I can behave to cover it up and the things I can do in spite of it, I’m somehow still not an acceptable human, and at the moment I’m worse, because I’m not willing to try…
And failure is familiar. Fucked-up and letting you down means that you experience me the way *I* experience me, and then we can both agree that I’m not good enough, and move on.
Because being a failure is the one thing I’m really, REALLY good at, and if I tell you about it, it doesn’t matter how poorly-constructed the manner, or how badly you feel about it, because those things just validate my point.
I’m the Queen of Self-Sabotage, and going nowhere fast. HowZAT for self-analysis!