The Enemy Within

Over the past two and a half years I have posted on my blog I have made mention of the various relationships I have with my son, my husband, my work, my digestive system, my mind, the world around me, my house, my studio and even the odd one about my garden.

I don’t really think I have ever gone into much detail about the relationship that I have with my body.

I am not talking about the internal workings of my body, but the size and shape of my body. Like most females it is an antagonistic relationship.

Many years ago I had eating disorders that ranged from bulimic to anorexic. I suppose it started when I was about 17 and continued until I was around 22 with intermittent bouts of other eating issues in my twenties. I have a very well developed gag reflex and can still bring up a full meal without shedding a tear. Not that I do these days. However, I am still inclined to become very controlling with food when I am overly anxious.

I put on a lot of weight after I became pregnant at 33. Going on IVF dumped on one load of unwanted weight, the pregnancy alone was another stack and being on anti depressants for 7 years really was the icing on the cake. I spent my late 30’s being totally disgusted with my body. I could not even look in the mirror without feeling a most intense hatred for what I saw. Which was not that bad when reflecting back. But I certainly would not ever want to go back there.

When I went off the anti depressants at the end of 2004, my weight started to drop off. I ended up 30kgs lighter which resulted in me being severely underweight. In fact, I lost so much weight that even the fat covering the sheaths of my nerves was lost, leaving me with residual nerve damage. However, eventually the body (and me) sorted itself out and I put back on what was needed to keep me from looking like I was suffering from a life threatening illness.

Last night I was reading a diary I kept for a number of years whilst I was depressed. Apart from the usual entries about what was going on, there were constant referrals to how fat I was, how I hated my body, how disgusted I was with myself. It was so negative and it showed how tied in I am with the whole body issue. Whilst I accept my body as it is now, it is only because I am able to exert a level of control over the overall look of it.

This year I have put on unwanted weight. Not that much, but enough that I am aware of it and my clothes have become tighter. It is not so much food related as I keep a diary of everything I eat, but after my overseas trip I dropped back on the exercise whilst nursing an injury.

Unfortunately, it appears that I am never really okay with putting on any weight. I can feel that level of self loathing step in and motivate me to make moves to get the weight off. It would be very easy to just vomit up what I am eating but fortunately I have enough sense to know that such action would lead to a bad frame of mind and poor body health. It would be impossible for me to be a good mother, a good wife and a useful employee if I were to jeopardise my health by depriving myself of good nutrition.

I would not be lying if I did not say that I think of what goes in my mouth every single day. I know the calorie value of everything. I know how much my clothes and shoes weigh. When I become obsessive about my weight I will step on the scales ten times a day, it is so compulsive.

When people say that they think size zero is too thin, well I secretly think that level of thin is beautiful. I have a couple of friends who are of the same ilk as me and we confess to each other how beautiful we think Posh Beckham is with her narrow, child like legs and thin arms. When we saw pictures of Angelina Jolie at her thinnest, we all commented on her waif like beauty, thin arms and hollowed cheek bones.

It would not matter if you said my body looked good for there is some sort of inbuilt revulsion of my physical self that has always been there. Besides, I most likely don’t see myself the way others do. Perhaps it stems back to the childhood years of my father always telling myself and my sisters how fat we were. In fact, I remember when my younger sister was severely anorexic and my dad commented how lovely she looked. My older sister is at the other end of the spectrum and has issues with overeating.

These days I go with the feeling I have for to deny it just denies what is part of who I am. I treat it all like a project that has to be constantly worked on and assessed.

It all must sound so pathetic. A middle aged woman who seems to be unable to just be happy with who she is. In a way, I am very happy with most aspects of my personal self, but my body will always be my worst enemy.


8 thoughts on “The Enemy Within

  1. My Goodness! What an utterly, gut-wrenchingly honest post, Linda. I suspected as much from reading your post…and unfortunately, I can also recognise a kindred spirit. Exactly the same reason I am off work at the moment – anorexia. I am in a bad ‘do’ at the moment and am now having to wear my teenage daughters clothes as nothing else fits. It’s not a boast…I have about a six month waiting list for any help. The doctor’s answer is to pump me full of sedatives. That’s not my idea of fun.Dying to be thin, eh?


  2. Agnes: As you know, it is not just about being thin is it. It is the control as well that goes with it. I cannot control what goes on around me, but I can certainly control what goes into me. Being off anti-depressants makes it harder for me, but when I am on them I put on weight and who wants that? I am so sorry you are going through a phase at the moment, it is not easy, very lonely. Unbelievable as it seems, the thinner I have been, the bigger the rush that goes with it. No real answer unfortunately. Take care of yourself.


  3. I agree with all that you say, unfortunately. And you hit the nail on the head when you say ‘lonely’. Doesn’t matter who is around you, or who is there for you, those thoughts whizzing round in your head make you feel very solitary. Thanks for being so honest about it all – it really was a superb admission.


  4. Of course nothing I say will really make a difference, but I will say this: truly Linda, this was a brave and brutally honest post. I wish I could find the words to say to both you and Agnes. Every one of us has that little self-destructive voice inside our heads – it just manifests itself in different ways for different people. I sometimes think that madness lurks just outside the realm of my psyche. You know I’m a person of faith. All I can do is offer my prayers that you both will find permanent love of self, so that when you look in the mirror, you like what you see, no matter what. I hope that doesn’t sound patronizing. It’s not meant to be so.Kat


  5. Kat: You don’t sound patronising at all, you sound like you care. Thank you. As long as I can treat my body as a separate entity from my emotions, then I am fine. Agnes: Whatever you do, always try to eat fruit and vegetables for the nutrition. I write a lot of thoughts down and read them later, it is like emptying the rubbish bin somehow. Oh, I could go on, but I am guessing there is nothing I can tell you that you don’t know.Charles: Agnes is lucky to have an understanding person such as you – that will eventually make a huge difference. Thank you for your kind thoughts.


  6. sometimes, being told something by a parent can have long lasting implications. Cruel intentions sre the worst, the effect can be deva
    stating. The worst thing a parent can do. I hope I did not do something like that to my children. Sigh.


  7. Ray: I take my role as a parent so seriously. I feel it is my job to help my son become a confident and healthy minded human being.

    I won't know for a long time if I am doing the right thing, but my gut feeling tells me that I am on track.

    Your kids would have let you know by now if you have gone wrong. So, don't worry too much.


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