Rebellion 2: If Food be the Music of Love…eat on

Yesterday I spoke about how my getting into debt was probably a rebellion against having to be so careful with money, and indeed not having any money when I was younger.

Well, I believe there is another area of my life where the current bad state I am in was caused by a sort of self destructive rebellion.

And that is my weight.

I am, to put it kindly, overweight. I am, to put it technically and accurately, obese.

I have always struggled with my appearance and how I view myself, and that was centrally pinpointed around my body.

I began restricting what I ate around the age of 10. I was careful to make sure my packed lunch consisted of very little so that no one could call me a pig. When I was at a party where food was served I made sure to only have on my plate the exact same amount and items of food as the other guests so that no one could accuse me of eating too much. I would not eat my lunch as often as I could get away with it.

It didn’t help that my mum, as well as being an alcoholic, was anorexic. I found this out later, and to be fair food is usually not of much interest to an alcoholic, but at the time when I was 12 I was very, very aware that my mum was thinner than me and this made me hate myself.

I remember once being in a clothes shop with my mum and a woman, in hindsight a very rude woman, was telling my mum she was far too thin and needed to put on weight.

A ‘normal’ person would have taken that as a sign that my mum was ill and just as unhealthy as being overweight, but I remember clearly being jealous of how thin my mum was and felt that this woman must have thought I was disgusting.

I barely spoke in school and never drew attention to myself or stood up for myself as all someone would have to do was call me fat and my world would crumble.

At this point I was not fat.

During the summer between the end of middle school and starting high school I did put on weight as a combination of many things, puberty, stress over the terrible my-mum-is-an-alcoholic thing, and started school feeling utterly exposed.

This is when I stopped eating.

For several years I would severely restrict the food I ate. I invented what I called, rather unimaginatively, the ‘chewing gum and water’ diet where all I would do all day is chew gum and drink water to try and block out the aching hunger.

A few months later someone in a writing class would describe me as thin and I felt they said it as a cruel joke and was waiting for the room to burst into laughter, which for some reason didn’t happen.

I had stages where I did eat normally, but even up until the age of 17 I mostly just ate one meal a day and that was dinner because it was the only meal that if I didn’t eat it it would draw too much attention to myself.

At this point my rather blunt sister visited and asked me point blank if I was anorexic and people started commenting on how thin I was.

I was 5 Foot 8 inches and when I once weighed myself at a friends house (we didn’t have scales) I discovered I was under 9 stone.

I could fit into a skirt I last wore at the age of 12 (it was a size 6).

I have no recollection of being thin at this time, no pictures exist of me on account of having the self esteem of….I dunno….a piece of string. If you want to know the truth I still believed I was fat, I still believed I was, if I was feeling kind, perhaps ‘chubby’ rather than grotesquely huge but one thing I could not believe and if I am honest still don’t believe was that I was, or have ever been thin.

I finally came to my senses when I started fainting at college and realised my work was suffering.

There were points in my life where I tried to make myself sick but being quite crap at it meant it never developed into a real habit and starving myself was easier and less gross and less likely to draw attention to me.

I am an emotional eater, I mean how could I not be?

My mental health took a deep dive into the abyss after graduating from University. To be honest I had it at University and saw a counsellor in my first year.

I had such low self esteem that I pretty much went the whole three years going to barely any lectures.

I graduated with a 2:2. This is the lowest grade I have ever got and I cried when I got my result despite my dad and boyfriend trying to tell me they got the same grades and had done fine in life.

After University I put on weight very very quickly and by all accounts I have ballooned into an overweight woman.

And I do think of it as a rebellion because basically I think I used up a lifetime of ‘having discipline about food and not eating cheese’ as a teenager and now I have to go through life without this crucial life skill.

And if I am being truthful stuffing my face, whilst terribly unhealthy, is a damn lot more fun than starving myself ever was.

I need to get a grip. I have sorted out my lack of control over spending money, now I just need to apply the same healthy skills to losing weight.

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