Thursday, 18 June 2009

HNT: A Slice of Plum Cake

Control needs to be regained, reasserted. At that tender age, there isn't so much that can be regulated... except, perhaps, food.

Little Joanna is trapped inside me trying not to make a fuss, being good and polite, desperately pushing all the time for acceptance - whether it be retrospective: from her parents; or current: from her friends, colleagues or whichever man shares her bed.

Joanna Cake, HNT: Going Down

And Little Joanna is also still trying to ration my food intake.

I was always a very petite child, slight, slender and small boned. My father had a nickname for me that reflected this and, although it was not his fault, I believe that my subconscious came to consider being thin as synonymous with being loved.

As a teenager, I wasn't much different with the exception of the development of the curves of my breasts and my bottom. I don't believe I weighed much more than I do now. But the boy I had adored since my first day at senior school thought otherwise. His casual throw-away comment that I had 'a fat arse' and his subsequent relationship with a girl in the year above who was the archetypal beanpole with no curves whatsoever became the catalyst.

Bombarded by images of svelte, stick-like models in magazines and on the television, my perception of love and acceptance being linked with a specific body image became ingrained. And thus began my relationship with anorexia as a juvenile.

As a more mature sufferer, I still don't really do cakes, biscuits or chocolate. I have always 'blamed' it on my allergies. Which is partly true.

But it's also to do with the fact that I came to equate all food with rewards.

Even now, I notice myself thinking things like: "I will just finish these few household chores and then I will sit down with a cup of tea and some toast" - I think of even the most basic foodstuffs as a treat. And naughty foods don't even come into the equation.

When things got difficult as a teenager, I started to allow myself to eat only if I felt good about myself. Sadly, the turbulent events that unfolded during this period of my life meant that I stopped eating very much at all.

In the early days after my parents' separation, I would binge and then make myself vomit because I was so disgusted with my uncontrolled eating behaviour. I didn't like being sick so I moved swiftly on to laxatives. For years my digestive system was totally up shit creek (if you'll pardon the pun) due to this excessive habit and compounded by the various stresses of my working life.

In my early twenties, I worked as a personal assistant to someone who, from my perspective, used me as a whipping boy. If someone had done something wrong and he didn't think it would go down well to haul that person over the coals, he would call me in and sound off to me. He was just venting and, in retrospect, I don't think he was actually telling me off... but that's how it felt. Particularly as I was someone who was so desperate to please. I would leave his office feeling crushed by another person's inability to live up to my boss's high standards. My whole body tensed up by the encounter.

This went on for several years, until a point was reached where I couldn't actually empty my bowels at all. Everything had gone into spasm, my belly swelled up and, despite the fact that I was hardly eating, I got fat - looking back, it was really just bloating. My body held on to any food that I did eat and when something did make it into my stomach, it was agony because the normal digestive process was so spastic.

I changed my job, took away some of the travel-related stresses and the responsibility, but it took months to settle down and I was like the stick of my childhood all over again.

For the rest of my working life, my weight fluctuated with my mood. If I was happy at home and in the office, I would be eating normally and become the ideal weight for my size. This in itself was not a problem so long as it was not coupled with my continuing struggle to persuade my Husband to display tactile affection. If these two phenomena coincided, then I would become unhappy, focus on my 'elephantine' reflection and start 'dieting' again.

Over the years, chocolate bars were totally phased out to the point where I no longer even craved them. At some point, that also began to happen with food itself. So many years of strict control led to the negation of the 'hunger' instinct. I could go for a whole day without eating and not notice... or perhaps my brain just overrode and ignored those feelings to the point where I no longer recognised them. There were periods where my clothes just hung on me. I remember that now.

And yet, I still looked in the mirror and saw a fat person.

Now, I can finally see the image from the mirror that my eyes were transmitting to my brain and acknowledge it. But, at the time, all I saw was the 'bulge' of my stomach, my 'fat' arse and my 'leg of mutton' thighs.

Today, after seeing the counsellor, I bought a Wispa bar.

Because I felt like it.

My brain tried to say it was a reward for having allowed some of the shit to come away in the session. I deserved it.

Instead of nibbling at it and making it last half an hour as usual, savouring each little bite, I ate it in three mouthfuls and said 'Fuck you!'

And I repeated the process four hours later to reinforce the message.



BenefitScroungingScum said...

That's a really major step, well done you! BG x x x

{{ d a n i m o }} said...

it's so wonderful to hear that little joanna's misconceptions are being channeled into hunger for a rewarding treat but more importantly the hunger to love yourself. you really are small but with the sexiest curves in the sexiest places! i'm so sorry you had to go through everything you did to get to where you are today; you couldn't tell it by looking at me but i was anorexic for most of middle and high school for many of the same reasons. and now? that plum cake looks almost as good-enough-to-eat as you do in that plum lingerie. ;)

Passion said...

Wow, speechless!

Amorous Rocker said...

Good for you! *big grin*

And that outfit you have on is so sexy! You're a lovely woman.

TROLL Y2K said...

Very revealing and GREAT ending!

Angela-la-la said...

Reading that was the best birthday gift ever! Love you to bits darling xxx

Barefoot Dreamer said...

I love this admission. food is such a powerful force whether you can't stop eating it or if you won't allow yourself to. But, you look great - kind of like a cute lil dessert! good luck on your journey

marcellonyc said...

You are doing great!

I have a teenage girl that is treating at my office and she confided in me that she is anorexic and needs help without her parents knowing. So, I found her a therapist that is helping her free of charge.


Polar said...

Bravo, my Sweet Joanna!
You DO have the Most Perfect Arse!!!

Ms Scarlett said...

Joanna, you look simply delicious.

And I'm so glad to hear that you're making such great progress... that's awesome, and you should be very proud of yourself.


His BabyDoll said...

I don't have the words....


Gorilla Bananas said...

Well good for you, Joanna! I'm especially glad you're not constipated anymore, because I'd find it very difficult to read a constipated writer. Your boobs are the perfect size.

Kevin Musgrove said...

That is good progress!

You look good in the photo. Perhaps needing some custard?

M said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing :)

Vixen said...

That is quite a sexy outfit!

Boxer said...

Classic, Cake.

;-) xoxo

Clare said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with your eating disorder. It is something so difficult to understand, I've got a couple of friends who have recovered from anorexia, but at the time I really couldn't comprehend what they were doing.

And a wispa, what a great choice!

Get8More said...

Love that PLUM...

nitebyrd said...

Eating chocolate with gusto and saying, "Fuck You!" sounds like a fabulous thing to do.