Saturday, 23rd July
Today has been the strangest day for ages. I was extremely tired, exhausted, and spent the whole day in bed or in the bathtub, with a short interval sitting in the kitchen. The only things I managed to do were feeding the cat, emptying the dishwasher and washing some clothes towards evening. I didn’t go to ballet class, didn’t go shopping for groceries and had no human interaction apart from Father who brought me something and text messages with Tom. I was glad Tom wasn’t here and I could really let myself go in every way. I read a lot, both a book and things online, and watched silly videos, slept and also tried to be mindful, to bear the silence and ‘boredom’ of doing nothing for once.
The next two weeks are my summer holidays. I have already made vague plans for doing lots of things, but have decided that I don’t HAVE to do them. There is a ballet summer course, the same one I did four and three years ago, and June is going. But I don’t know yet… If I feel shy and out of place and fat and ashamed during class, it won’t be fun. It will be horrible, just like last Wednesday. Melina came to class, that’s why I went, to see her again. She is better, thinner, stronger after a few months of near-professional training, and it made me feel even more sloppy and amateurish, fat and weak. That class is the only exercise I did all week.
It was a hard week, I was sad and very hungry and overate every day and wanted nothing more than to be able to go home, eat and curl up on the bed. Tom was very sweet. One night at dinner, he asked me how I was doing and I was trying to be honest, but put on a brave face. He came over to me and embraced me and that kind and supporting gesture just broke my defences and I began to cry against his stomach. I felt weak and sad, but also comforted and ‘taken care of’, safe, like a child able to share her pain and feel that she is not alone and that everything is going to be ok. It’s a feeling I haven’t had for years. I’m an adult, I no longer feel I can go to my parents for comfort (and they can’t help, even if they would try) and June has offered support, but I hesitate to ask. I didn’t ask it of Tom, but he was just there, giving it to me, and even though I felt guilty for making him worried, I was able to accept it. We stood in an embrace for ages, talking. He kept saying he wished he could support me more and help me somehow, and I kept saying that he WAS, by his presence and gentleness and his love for me. I sometimes feel strongly that I don’t deserve him, and yet I cling to him and when he is here and holding me in his arms, things don’t seem so bad. Yes, love is only a ‘sticking plaster’ to cover my pain, just as other things have been, like ballet or running or even losing weight, all the little things I do to be closer to an ideal, all the things that make me feel ‘high’. But they are not real healing, not true happiness. And what if they are gone? Feeling thin is gone, and ballet is going, and recently I have been feeling too exhausted to run or even just stretch or use the cross trainer. My expectations for myself keep growing, until simple things are so draining that they seem impossible, so I give up and don’t even try.
I’ve been talking about this to Mrs. H, and have actually had a breakthrough in our last session. She says that I stubbornly hold on to my ideal image of how I should be or want to be, and try to reach that. I agree, and I agree that it is ‘fake happiness’ and not sustainable and very limiting and exhausting. But there is this huge fear that I am a horrible person at heart, and that I will turn into a monster once I stop struggling. It is a constant battle to hide and tame that monster, for myself and in front of other people. When I don’t want to fight anymore, or can’t, I overeat to have a short break. All through the last few years, my weight loss, inner progress and development, there have been bad phases and relapses, and there has always been this fear that if I let go, I will show my true face. Ugly, vulgar, lazy, stupid, boring, greedy, repulsive: that is what I fear I am, and so I am trying to get as far from that as possible. But maybe that isn’t true. Maybe I can find out how I really am and make peace with myself? That doesn’t mean stagnation and complacency, it just means I will have a foundation of ‘ok’, not ‘horrible’. I’m sure that my eating problem will get better if I manage to do this, and that I will have less mood swings and more good relationships, because the stress and tension will be less. It is just so very scary to let go. I know the familiar struggle to do things to ‘cover up’ the monster, but who knows what might happen if I stop? I have always been too afraid. And that is what I told Mrs. H, too. ‘Where do I start? I’m afraid.’ She said to start right there, in her office. To get up and move and try. So I did. I got up and was aware of all the tiny things I wanted to do to ‘hide the monster’, to seem less ugly, less heavy and fat, like standing up straight, stepping lightly, pointing my foot when if came off the floor, doing something ‘interesting’, changing positions. I resisted all of them, just standing there, taking a few steps, finally lying down on the floor on my stomach. ‘Do something, you’re boring!’, came the impulse. The image of my body just lying on the floor like a sausage was horrible. The feeling of being stupid and boring and passive and empty came up, but I did not give in, did not change my position just to ease the anxiety. There were tears in my eyes. I wanted to stop crying, but felt as if I had no control. That moment was really intense. I have never cried like this when doing movement analysis (because I always gave in and moved or changed something to make it less painful), and now I just couldn’t stop the tears dripping silently on the floor. Thankfully the time was almost up and it didn’t last too long. But apart from feeling tired and sad, I felt a strange calm. It is the very soothing feeling of not fighting anymore, of not caring what others see and think of me. I sometimes felt like this when I was really depressed, and those moments are soothing in retrospect. Is this true peace of mind? I left the session in that mood and tried to hold on to it for the next days. Doesn’t mean I didn’t overeat again right afterwards, or yesterday. But I don’t know, it felt very significant. I want to use my holidays, not to work on my outside, i.e. ballet and exercise and do lots of stuff, but on my inside. So today, lying in bed, feeling ugly and fat and useless and boring, lazy, ‘wasting time’, there was a strange peace beneath it and I feel actually ok.