Mother Issues, or Who I Want To Notice

First off, I want to thank Boulimique for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. I have to get the following BS out of my head today, but a bit later today or tomorrow I’ll put up a post about it, too. I’m surprised and honored!
Now to my post.
 
One of my closest friends is a recovered anorexic. She’s been my biggest support in all of this, because she understands how hard it is, but she also speaks truth to me.
 
She told me a big step in her recovery was figuring out who precisely she wanted to notice her weight loss and struggle. At the time, I couldn’t think of who I wanted to notice. A big issue for me right now is my mom, but I doubted I want her to notice because her response would be to smother, or at least generally she makes me feel smothered. If I’m stressed and she actually tries to help, as opposed to just ignoring, she usually makes me feel worse.
 
But I have been doing a lot of thinking today about what is behind all this, and part of me now wonders about that. My mother and I have a rocky history. She was the stronger personality of my parents, the one always pushing me to do better. My dad was gone for work part of most weeks and on those nights it was just my mother and I, all the time. Intensity arose, all the time. I now know she was stressed and probably depressed, and that was part of what led her to criticism, but at the time I just felt like nothing would ever be good enough and I didn’t measure up. Yelling or angry words happened a lot, and it was all made worse by my tendency to withdraw when people got upset, which she interpreted as passive-aggressive. I do believe the high pressure of growing up is the source of some of the issues I struggle with.
 
I used to play soccer. I quit when I was younger, because it was no longer fun. I played on premier teams, and my mother put a decent amount of money and time into me playing. I got criticized for not playing well enough or hard enough. To my recollection, it was in the context of ‘we’re putting in all this effort and you aren’t”. I quit soccer in high school, ostensibly to focus on schoolwork. But I do remember in my head it was a bit of a ‘fuck you’ to my mother, because I knew she took great pride in me playing (my therapist says it was about her showing off how good her kid was) and I knew it would hurt her for me to quit.
 
So now I am beginning to wonder if all this, this slow march towards suicide, this slow march of self destruction, IS about wanting her to notice. Not so she’ll help. But so I can finally say to her ‘look at what you did to me. You hurt me, tormented me, and I am angry, and now I will kill myself and look at what your actions got you’. I have a lot of anger towards her, at times enough that I don’t want to see her ever again. Suicide would be the ultimate ‘fuck you’.
 
The hard thing is how she acts now like nothing happened. Like she is proud of me. Like she loves me. Like she has always acted this way. Which makes me more angry because that isn’t true, and now it feels like too little too late. It isn’t like she’s acknowledging how hard things were, apologizing, and trying to change. It’s like it never happened. She’ll deny any little details that I happen to toss out. But it DID happen, Mom, and I have been fucked up for years paying the price while you get off scot free and play the loving and proud mother. So look, now, see what you’ve done. And don’t ask for forgiveness, because it’s a long time coming. Don’t’ ask for mercy, for me to protect your feelings as I have for years. I won’t. Feel the full weight, bear the full weight. I think some of me wants her to see this so I have a reason to make her hurt, make her guilty, make her face it.
 
I’m beginning now to think I need to confront her. Not now. I’m not strong enough now, I need to be ready for her angry, lash out back defensiveness no matter how calmly I present my points. I need to be ready for nothing to come of it but her anger and my tears and guilt for making her sad. But someday. To say it in a way that isn’t a slow killing all of the things that matter not just to her, or not at all to her, but to me.
 
Mother issues. How cliche. But true.

Exhaustion

I called in to work today.

I called in because I am so exhausted I can barely contemplate doing anything, let alone focus on work. I am laying in bed about to fall asleep, and it was all i could do to muster the energy to call in.

Granted, I haven’t gotten much sleep the past few days, but I am beginning to fear it’s the ED taking over, finally sapping me to the point where a busy weekend is enough to drag me to the point of exhaustion. It is, I think, beginning to affect my life profoundly.

You’d think I would start eating fast. But I just can’t. And that terrifies me.

Social contact

Today I spent the day with a dear friend I’ve known for many years. We walked around and ate 3 meals together and talked for a good long while.

I ate, all day. I had a half of a plate-sized buttermilk pancake and 2.5 slices of bacon for breakfast. I had an ear of corn with Olivio, 2 pieces of PB toast on oatmeal bread, and some snap peas for lunch. I had a Luna bar for a snack, and then brown rice, snap peas, and a cucumber at dinner. Then almonds and PB crackers. I ate all but the last two slowly, but with the distraction of conversation relatively pain free. And I felt the oddness of my calorie-checking, although the hold is strong enough over me that I read labels. Still, although I read the labels, I didn’t entirely keep a running commentary of calorie counting in my head as I ate. I ate to be social. i think that’s progress, even if I have no idea if my portions were adequate.

I felt the oddness of the entire situation. My friend gets eating disorders, but I think finds it hard to believe I could be struggling as hard with this one as I am. It seems out of the blue, odd for it to pop up in my twenties. And since I can explain what is going on to a certain point, I don’t think she really understands how hard it is for me to choose to eat. Or maybe as another friend said my position is getting less and less defensible and I am just feeling that tension. So I enjoyed the day, but also felt isolated in my struggle.

Then, on the way home, that voice that loves to comment on my life told me all about how I stayed too long, she just tolerates me, I wasn’t entertaining enough, I talked too much, I didn’t thank her profusely enough, no one actually likes me, I’m a complete idiot to be caught in this ED thing and she thinks I am a freak, etc. Strong urges to cut or restrict because I am, in my head, such a horrible person and undeserving of 3 meals and company provided by another. This is a running theme, that people just are kind enough to tolerate me.

She understands awkwardness, and overclarifying, so I might try to clarify with her that really it’s in my head. I think that’s the way to fight this thing. But I’m not certain yet.

 

I had a long drive home, and am tired. Came home to find my sorbet had begun to thaw in my freezer (is it broken? I dont know. It’s still spewing cold air, but things are mushy. First apartment = much confusion) and had subsequently leaked down into the fridge and across the kitchen floor. Cleaned that up, contemplating a glass of wine. And just…working out the tension, but also feeling really stupid for being stuck in this ED thing.

Harsh reality

I went to my primary care provider’s office this week to be weighed, and it was sobering. It seems my therapist has gotten word to them and this time I was actually treated like an ED patient, standing on the scale backwards. Until now I had the option to know my weight. And just…it was out in the open. I didn’t really like it, at all. It’s a shift, and annoying to the ED voice because although I normally ask not to know my weight, I REALLY wanted to look this time. Probably for all the wrong reasons, but I did. I don’t know. It shook me a bit, all of it, and made all of this ED treatment seem like ED treatment, and seem real, and seem serious.

That’s probably fair. I’ve not been keeping up this week, I have been restricting. I think I have lost weight. Some of it is, I think, that I know the idea is when when my friend comes back from vacation I will try to gain, and so I am trying to lose before that kicks in.

I AM sad about my friend being away. She is a source of support, a ready source of support, and not having her to easily turn to is going to be really, really challenging. She leaves tomorrow. And we did have a conversation about the losing weight, and she challenged me that if I get into weight loss/heavy restricting mode, I am digging myself further into a hole. I tried to talk about how I was apathetic on wanting to eat, and she replied, “I know too much about this for you to pull that over on me. It is not that you don’t care. You know what you’re doing, so stop trying to manipulate the situation and your interpretation. Part of you wants to lose weight. Part of you wants to not eat as a way to cope with your problems and stressors. You’ve said that to me. Own what it is, and if you make that choice then it is your choice, but I’m not going to let you manipulate or pretend it’s not a choice.’ It was hard to hear. But she’s probably right. She also said she seems me slipping further and further away, emotionally and physically shrinking, and it’s hard to see even my personality slip away. It was an intense conversation. I feel horribly that this affects her, and tried to tell her to go away because she didn’t sign on for this when we became friends. She told me she doesn’t choose out of friendships and that she is not going to go away. That scares me.

I keep waiting for the day I no longer want to restrict as the day I will start to gain, but I’m beginning to think the day I never want to restrict again is a long time coming, or may never come again. I am losing my will to try to get better from this and that scares me, I need to kick in and begin to fight before I lose the ability altogether. I need to find the will and desire to fight to get better, to care, to accept my life is worth living. That’s my goal for this week – to get back to what I believe is a maintenance level, and identify my reasons for fighting.

Disappearing

I’m sure at one point I had a me.

A person with interests, like, goals, dreams. A person with a strong body and the ability to use it.

But others around me didn’t like that me. They thought she was wrong about what she wanted to do, about what she should do. They thought she needed to never bend, never break, always support. They thought she needed to be feminine, demure.

And so she’s been slowly disappearing and weakening for years upon years under the pressure, the opinions. Based on her genuine desire to please, to make others happy, to bend. Until now she’s wasting away almost to nothing, her strong body weakening, her frame disappearing.

I used to be a strong athlete. That’s one thing that kills me as I shrink, knowing I am losing that strength. For a while I thought it was sad that even fighting for that wasn’t enough to tame the ED, but now I wonder if that’s a piece of the fight – do I want to be the strong capable one, or do I want to be petite, diminutive, weak, so others won’t ask anything of me?

Yesterday being weak won, but I’m going to try to make today different.

I did read a good quote though: ‘I will feed myself and fight this illness, not feed this illness and fight myself.’

Perfection, or lack thereof

Today I totally blew something at work.

I felt like an idiot. Angry at myself, really. All I could think was – see? You’re behind already, and now this. You are just horrible at life, and people are going to hate you, and this is totally inexcusable. How could you mess up like this? You’re just a complete screwup. I truly wanted to go home, lay down, and never wake up.

It sort of ties in with a lot of my history, which I have been thinking a lot about lately, and how it ties in with my current issues. Perfectionism plays a huge role in this current eating thing. Like, I feel like if I eat too much, I’m losing some game in which winning is eating as little as possible. If I go to the store and anything at all is too small for me, I feel like I’m a failure somehow. Like I’m losing the game of sizes because I cannot fit inside every piece of clothing in the store. The only perfect weight is the low weight I have not attained. I have to be the best at not eating, disappearing, being small.

This has deep roots. My entire life, I have been in a pressure cooker. My parents used to yell at me for grades below an A. When I had a B- in history, my mother was ashamed to have me as a daughter. When I had a B+ in math, I was lazy, I got yelled at, I was not living up to expectations, I was failing at the job of being a student. when I didn’t want to go to Vassar or Bryn Mawr or Harvard or Johns Hopkins, I wasn’t living up to the standard of attending a good college. When I didn’t get the highest award possible at the awards ceremony, I didn’t get congratulated for the award I DID receive, I got criticized for not getting a good enough award. When I didn’t play my best at soccer, I wasn’t living up to the amount of money being spent to put me on the team. I don’t think my mother told me she was proud of me until I was 19 or 20, and still when I graduated college cum laude the question was why not higher.

And it was global. I took the SAT at 12, and I got a good score, and that score haunted me. I wasn’t living up to the potential I tested at. I wasn’t making the right choices to fully live that out. No one bothered to ask why I wasn’t acing school when they thought I would (and by ‘acing’ I mean all A’s including in AP classes). They just yelled. Maybe had they asked, we would have noticed my bipolar, my stress, my cutting years early. I wasn’t allowed an off day, a bad test, without being criticized, punished, yelled at. Who in life doesn’t have bad days or make mistakes? And yet I wasn’t allowed? I was failing as a student, a person, a daughter? Nothing, no matter what I tried, was good enough. It’s a wonder i kept trying.

And so now, in my head, nothing is good enough. I learned the script, I absorbed the rules, I no longer need reminders because I do it myself. And when I mess up, I am a failure who never lives up to her potential, always underperforms. When I am not the best at everything, I am a failure.

When I eat, I am a failure. If I gain weight, I am a failure. If I cook toast wrong, I am a failure. If I mistakenly forget to clean a dish, I am a failure. There is nothing I do in my life that I am not at risk for being a failure at; each day is brimming with new possibilities and opportunities to prove that I am not and never will be good enough.

Well, there is one thing I AM perfect at. Knowing I am a failure.