A Big Step Nearer

This week has been really hard, but something wonderful has come out of it.

Let’s just say that I reached a dead end again, combined with PMS or whatever it is…The week before, without doing anything, my weight dropped quite a bit and I saw a number on the scale that had evaded me for months. Of course, my sense of self-worth immediately grew and I was happy and confident. Always, always, moving towards my ideals fills me with this great hope and happiness. Maybe, a voice inside me seems to whisper, I can reach my ideal and then finally love myself and be at peace. It is fake happiness, but I fall for it every time. Naturally, it was just a fluctuation and the weight would go up again, but I had a mad hope that it wouldn’t. My body usually loses weight and then gains again during the natural cycle. My mood also usually drops a few days after the weight, which still comes with impulses to overeat. So I ate more and felt a little sad during the weekend. I had taken Monday off work but couldn’t enjoy the day because I felt depressed. Again, I ate more, but of course it doesn’t help at all. That’s the mean thing about it: overeating used to comfort me and numb my emotions, but it doesn’t work anymore. I still get the impulse (it’s a mechanism that is very deeply rooted) and eat, but get full very soon and then feel icky for hours, if not days. The only thing that comforts me now when I feel so bad is hugging Tom. I crave it in those moments like I used to crave food before, but it makes me feel weak and dependent, so I try to deny it.

I was very glad to have Tom there with me, though. I slept badly and when the alarm sounded on Tuesday morning, a wave of despair swept over me. I felt as if I couldn’t face life and go to work, like in earlier times, when it used to happen all the time. But then I had thought that I was finally over this and hadn’t stayed home for months… I clung to Tom desperately and fought with myself: should I tell him? What would he think about my weakness? Should I lie to him and say I was ill? I had sworn never to lie to him… And what would I tell the doctor? Tom sensed that I was unhappy and held me and stroked my hair in the dark. Then he said, ‚Is it so bad? Would you like to report sick?’ He just seemed to read my mind. This is the significant moment of the whole affair. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love. Here was a man who not only understood me without words, but was on my side and didn’t seem to judge me for my ‚weakness’.

In the end, I reported sick because not only was I really depressed and tired, but I also felt quite ill. Tom and I tried to sleep a little longer, but we couldn’t, so we got up and had breakfast. Tom went to work and I slept for an hour, then went to the doctor’s, then again ate too much and tried to distract myself with reading and watching videos and a film. That day, I not only felt sad, but also weirdly impulsive and passionate. Tom and I spent a nice evening together and I held him very close and told him that I loved him. I must have told him every day this week, and I only say it when I really mean it in that moment. I really, really love him. No more doubts. He isn’t perfect and there are some things I that I wish were different, but he’s Tom, he’s my beloved, unique, special Tom. In some ways, he is almost too good to be true; he loves me in spite of my self-loathing, flabby skin, fatness and regular fits of despair. In moments when I can see nothing even remotely positive in myself, he is there and says he loves me, and shows it, too. Realising all this has brought me another big step nearer to Tom.

The next day was spent working and deeply hating myself and feeling envious of every other person who wasn’t fat and weak and stupid. I had to go to ballet class, which helped somewhat. Before class, however, I felt like I just had to visit Tom in his charming attic at his department. He was very affectionate and said he was glad to see me and gave me the strength to go to class. Yesterday, it was a little better and I had an appointment with Mrs. H. She said I shouldn’t wait to work on self-acceptance until I was down in the dumps. However, when I’m not suffering too much, I tend to push things aside and not address them because they are hard. I now notice when I chase ideals, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, and I know that these are dead ends and usually give them up. ‚Okay,’ I think, ‚I need to accept myself as I am’… and then I distract myself or leave it because I don’t know HOW. How can I see my worth when I think everything about me is bad? All my ‚objective’ accomplishments, degrees, praise from others seem empty to me in those moments. I convince myself that it was all just luck, coincidence, or that it doesn’t ‚count’.

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Introspection

I am not happy right now. Why? I hate myself, that’s why. And why do I hate myself? The first thing that comes to mind is my body, followed by my wealth and status, followed by my character and intellect. But it all comes down to this: I feel worthless and unlovable and utterly reject myself.

Body weight, shape, fitness: I am fat and have no hope of losing weight without going back into the eating disorder. I have tried again and again and every time I get obsessed and anxious and the exhausting mental and physical ‘back and forth’ begins. Apparently, I have to accept being fat, for my weight has stabilised at around 84 kg/185 lb. That’s 4 kg more than last year, and I found that weight really hard to accept in the first place… I am trying to eat at a very moderate deficit and do more strength classes, but it’s mentally a slippery slope and the weight doesn’t move. Now I’m not only fat but also have loose skin from when I was really fat. Lose/lose. My shape is also inharmonious, with huge hips, bottom and thighs and a much smaller upper body. All my clothes look silly because my shape is like this. I feel ugly and ashamed of my body.

Wealth and status and productivity: I am not making much money, working part-time, yet feel unable to work more. I’m working as a ‘lower’ function, not what I originally trained for, because it would be too taxing for me. Even this work exhausts me. I consider dropping my thesis, too, and spending my free time at home instead of in the office. All my colleagues are much more productive and resilient. Tom, too. I feel inferior and ashamed.

Character, intellect: I feel boring and stupid and inarticulate, ‘slow’. I’ve had a good education and often listen to audiobooks, but I still think I’m pretty stupid. I am socially rather awkward or have to work extremely hard to seem otherwise (which is exhausting). Sometimes, I forget the simplest thing or make embarrassing blunders. I also find it hard to formulate thoughts sometimes. I have no real hobby or passion. Ballet is there and I still go sometimes, but my passion is gone and I feel ugly and frustrated in class. I haven’t run for months and crafts and cooking don’t truly excite me. How boring my life is. I don’t travel or have a lot of friends, no children, no career. Here, too, I feel ashamed and inferior.

Mrs. H said I had to find a passion or a project, find out who I am and what I want to do. Trying to reach ideals is no longer an option. So, who am I without my ‘moving with music’ obsession? Without my weight loss success? Even without my eating disorder?

The problem is that I think I am… worthless and insignificant, a nobody. That means that all my reasons above mean nothing! It’s the underlying shame and self-loathing that makes me feel sad, and no amount of external success or unhealthy coping mechanisms will cure it (only cover it up).

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Close Shave?

Last night was a normal evening with Tom. We made dinner together and kissed or hugged occasionally. The night before, we had been passionate in the usual way and afterwards told each other how much we loved each other and how happy we were together. A part of that atmosphere still seemed to linger between us. I can’t remember now whether it was before or after dinner, but there was a moment when I felt as if Tom was about to propose to me. He was telling me of one of his colleagues and that her boyfriend had talked about marrying her, and we were talking about it. We were standing face to face in a hug and I felt him looking at me. I didn’t look into his eyes then because I suddenly felt nervous. He seemed to hesitate and I tried to calm myself down internally. In that moment, I felt very conflicted.

The moment passed without awkwardness and we had a normal, peaceful and loving evening. Why did I feel so conflicted? We have talked about marriage many times and I have made it clear what I think of corny proposals and big weddings and that I only think marriage is needed if you want children, and we have established that we don’t want children. I had decided months ago for myself that I didn’t want a proposal because I didn’t feel able to say yes with all my heart. Yet at that moment, a part of me seemed to welcome the idea. Probably the part influenced by our culture and conventions and my ego. It is flattering to think that somebody might want to marry me. Especially when he doesn’t want children, i.e. wants me as a person, not just a suitable vessel for his offspring. It seems to give me more value and make me more lovable.

But as I said before, if he had asked me, I would not have known what to say. I love him and don’t want to break up and am even beginning to think of a future, maybe moving in together in a few years… Yet sometimes, I have daydreams or wonder what it would be like to fall in love with a different man, to get to know somebody else, to be intimate and make love… Sometimes, I wonder if Tom is the right one for me because I have no other experiences, no opportunity to compare. As long as we are happy together and moving in the right direction, I don’t want to risk or destroy what we have just because I’m curious. But no, I’m not sure. And I’m glad he didn’t ask me because he would pick up on my doubts even if I tried to hide them. It would hurt and unsettle him and it might destroy our happiness. Better leave things as they are.

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Very Nice Birthday

This birthday was the best I’ve had for a long time. I woke up after a period of dozing and opened the shutters on a cool, rainy morning. Gina jumped onto the window sill and I gave her a treat and a kiss and then went to get dressed and make breakfast. Tom was in B, sleeping after a night working at the Casino, but he had given me a card before he left. (We had had two good weeks together since the last entry where I had written about doubts and having to talk. Let’s just say that I suddenly hadn’t felt the need to talk and my reason for it seemed far-fetched, so I let it go.) I first drank coffee and looked at Tumblr before opening my cards. Tom’s mother and sister had written, then Sissy, and last came Tom’s card. It was red and heart-shaped, almost a little tacky. But he had written the sweetest things: ‘My dear Aliénor, I wish you all the best for your birthday with all my heart. You are such a precious and wonderful person and I am really indescribably happy that we have found each other. Stay the way you are. I love you more than anything, my darling.’

I was moved and felt intense gratitude and joy for having a person in my life who appreciates me so much. Having it written down on a card made it tangible and real: somebody loves me just as I am. And this is wonderful.

Full of warm feelings, I began to bake cakes, prepare work lunches and tidy up before going to a strength class at AS. I had felt the urge to go for a run, but it was really cold and rainy, so I postponed it. The class was really hard, but something about working hard in a group with loud music makes me feel so powerful, especially weightlifting. Then I hurried home, had lunch, cleaned the flat and decorated the cakes. Tom was coming early, so I had little time and just finished showering when he arrived.

He carried a big, wrapped present. Just then, my aunt called to wish me a happy birthday and then Tom suggested opening the present now because it was something ‘to try out’. I had somehow guessed that he might give me a new coffee machine, but he had denied it. Then I had thought it might be a tea machine, but we had never talked about it and I thought it might be something entirely different. The first thing he gave me was a book he had told me I would get, called ‘Cuddle Sutra’, full of cuddling positions. We are both really big cuddlers. While looking through it together, sitting on the bed, Gina came and began to cuddle with Tom. Then I opened the big present. It was a tea machine! And a very beautiful one, too, with coloured lights. We tried it out immediately. Then we had dinner, one of my favourite meals, grilled lamb kebabs with homemade pita and cucumber salad, followed by chocolate cake.

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Later in bed, we snuggled and held each other very close and I told Tom that I loved him so much, and he said the same. I just felt very content and grateful and happy.

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