I was ill for a whole week, more ill than I have been for years. And it has been interesting on many different levels.
I had had a slightly sore throat and strange headaches for a week, but still felt ok and pushed myself physically. Then, during the last night Tom spent at my flat, I began to have a very sore throat and felt too tired for ballet class the next day, and also strangely not myself. I actually planned to overeat that night and wanted to buy lots of food, but thankfully noticed that I hadn’t enough money on me. Still, I binged that evening and then tried to move on immediately and forgive myself. My throat was still very sore and I felt feverish and ill the next day, so I reported sick, and ended up eating too much again. I got worse on the next day and feared not being able to see Tom. I went to the doctor to do a test on my throat and hoped I would need antibiotics so it would get better fast, but the test was negative. Nevertheless, the doctor told me to stay home at least until Monday, so that meant no ballet class, no strength training, no running or AS at the weekend. After feeling hopeless and fat anyway, this made everything worse. I would be home alone with myself, my sick and useless body, without any joy, and only food as a short-term relief. I knew I would not be able to fight through this, and I feared binge eating and gaining lots of weight and feeling utter despair.
On the way home from the doctor’s office, I had to do some shopping and I wrote to Tom that I would love to see him, that I had probably already unknowingly infected him on Monday, but would leave it up to him if he wanted to come that night. Personally, I felt that I couldn’t bear not seeing him. He wrote saying he wasn’t feeling really well himself and would like to stay home. I was in the middle of the shop and read his answer and felt despair overtake me, so that I almost cried. I bought a few things other than planned, but still didn’t go completely crazy. And I went home and ate too much again, but again not as much as I could have. Nevertheless, I hated myself and felt depressed and scared and annoyed because I was in pain and felt ill and tired and weak and so lonely. My mother was away for the day, my grandmother was unwell and might be dying, my boss wasn’t happy with my long absence, I eaten too much and gained weight, had a fever and a very painful throat, and wanted nothing more than to be held and loved because I could not comfort myself at that moment. But I had to bear it somehow, and just tried to distract myself watching silly videos, and sleep. I slept badly and felt worse and was glad Tom didn’t see me like that, after all.
My despair was worst on Thursday, but the illness was worst from Friday to Sunday. I was in so much pain, despite painkillers, that I couldn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time. There were weird dreams and sleeping felt heavy and exhausting. I texted with Tom all night, as he was working, and this helped a little. Swallowing was so painful that I had to force myself to eat and drink enough for three days. This helped enormously to lose weight and reduce the regret from overeating and to let me love myself again. It’s sad, but my self-acceptance depends so much on my weight and food. My grandmother recovered a little and won’d die just yet. Mother came for visits and brought me flowers and Father sent some cooked fish. Tom miraculously had not got my bug, so I told him to stay away on Monday, too (even though I still longed for him). I didn’t want him to catch this very unpleasant illness.
The doubts about his character that I had had after our last evening together (where he had talked about his friends as if he didn’t care for them) were gone. I read old messages we had written in December where he was so sweet and tender, and comes across as very sensitive and loving and very much in love with me. He isn’t cold and selfish at all. This forced separation has made me appreciate him even more. Any form of love, any hug or kiss I saw on TV (and when I’m ill, I watch a LOT of TV) made me long for him so much. It is different than it was before, where it was a general, sweet pain, just something I longed for. Now it was something I knew but couldn’t have (if only for the moment). It hurt. I could imagine much more vividly how horrible it must be to break up, or lose your lover. I am afraid of that pain. Now that I love, I will one day experience it, and I dread that day.
I was a little better on Monday but I went to the doctor’s again as agreed, and she said to just wait and it would get better. Then on Tuesday, I suddenly felt dramatically better. No more fever and much less pain, even without pills, and I could finally sleep deeply for hours and hours. I ate more, too, and was happy to see I had lost all of the weight from the binge and even more. It’s probably at least some muscle, because of the fever and lying around for a week, but the number on the scale still helped me extremely. Now that I felt better, there were cravings, but I was able to resist them. Nevertheless, the danger of overeating was one of the biggest reasons why I returned to work today.
This week of illness and forced loneliness has in many ways been a blessing in disguise. It has confronted me with many of the things I fear: not being able to exercise, struggling with overeating or cravings, loneliness, worry, pain. It forced me to be patient and gentle with myself. It forced me to bear all this and let me find out that it is bearable. I was always conscious that health and energy are a luxury, but now I love my body more than ever, not only for what it can do when it runs or dances, but for the way it can heal itself. I must love it and treat it well, and give it rest as well as challenge it. I appreciate my family more, and I know that love is a privilege, a huge gift. Tom is a unique treasure and knowing him, spending time with him is priceless. Re-entering my everyday life after this forced break makes me see it with new eyes, and I’m extremely grateful for every aspect of it.