Wednesday, 29 May 2013

My Marriage to Mirrors- A History of Domestic Violence Part 1(may be triggering)

This is part one of a post that is so pertinent to me I feel to do it justice I have to split it in two.

I feel the need to say that this is a naked post. There are lots of days that I can be a strong girl, I can say 'I am a girl recovering from anorexia', and 'I am ready to leave this behind'. But I am human, and I have just as many days of wanting my old body back. This blog wouldn't be what I wanted it to be if I didn't chart an equal number of both experiences. Do not judge me.

I feel the need to say I am NOT intending this to be ProAna, but some of my descriptions may be triggering for some. But I have to write it because it's like a poison I need to flush out.

The first mirrors of the day are in my house. They hold the secret reflections, the image of me that barely anyone else sees. Bare faced, sleepy and tousled, a body buried beneath folds of fleece and flannelette. I expect to see that image, so the unattractiveness is explicable and logical and does not perturb me. A little later on, still in the house, the shrouds are whipped off and in the first and perhaps most masochistic act of my day occurs in from of the full length wiggly Ikea mirror in my bedroom. I force myself to survey my bare flesh, every limb and section of torso. This is made more unpleasant if I haven't been to the loo that morning as my stomach already feels full and I expect to see it protruding more than if I have 'been'. Besides the stomach the most important bit to check is the thighs. Feet together, face straight into the mirror. Measure the gap. I want to cry every morning. I will never forget the image that used to be there, in that same mirror.

That image I miss like a dead twin. Head to toe it was a better me. A messy haired head atop a delicate, slender neck. A fragile neck, beautifully breakable. The neck sinks into the cleft of collar bones, the ends of the bones rise above the line of the shoulders making little bobbles. The upper arms are finally fully geometric as they lie against the body. No curves, straight down into the protrusion of elbows. The forearms are now bigger than the upper arm, this is the right way around for me because it is a reversal of the normal. I'm sure I used to care about the size of my breasts, now I don't care. They are barely there, they know that in the quest for the skeletal they are neither wanted or needed. The ribs are there though. A barrel, a cage. It serves no purpose outside aesthetics any more; I don't care about protecting the organs; I am told every day I am abusing them from the inside. A cage of bones cant shield them from what I am doing.

The stomach is still not good enough. It is as tight as a drum but it is not as concave as I need it. I want a stomach so shallow it throws the hips into sharp relief. The hips bones are there, little ridges, the pants are stretched between them with a gap in between, like washing pegged on a line. Now I turn, first to the side. I want to see the bulge of the pelvis at the base of my back. I used to call them my 'cow bones'. I'd only ever seen them on the backs of cows. Now I turn to see them properly. Two lumps, I run my hands over their reassuring presence. I can press and they press back, they don't move or fade like flesh would. Back to the front, now the thighs, the most important bit. I cant remember a time before a thigh-gap. It was my first goal of radical body transformation. I scorn the tiny gap that I used to be happy with. How could I be happy with that tiny space? It is much larger now, I want it to be even wider but for now it is ok. The femurs run into the gathered bulge of knees. I don't like the calves. In my first cycle of anorexia they were slender. I am a lower weight but they still aren't back to that yet. I'll keep going until they are. Maybe then I'll stop. But if that was the truth I wouldn't be anorexic. As it is I'll always be trimming bits away.

But that is the past. That twin is gone. I'd like to say 'that twin is dead'. But that is not the truth, if it were then life would be easier. It is like when someone very, very close to you goes missing. You are stuck in a torturous state of limbo. You feel all the pain of their absence as if they were dead but you cannot mourn and move on. There is a cruel grain of hope left that they will return, so you stay in the same place, waiting, waiting. Waiting to hear they are dead and gone or alive and returning, too often though there is no conclusion. You will die having spent your life looking back, not moving so they can find you if they do come back and they never have.

With anorexia you have the ability to recall your twin at any time. It takes time for them to make the journey back but eventually they arrive and you can pick up where you left off. The reason we don't call our twins back is because we know that for all our love it is an Abusive Relationship. We have times of light but there are more times of violence, hurt, insults, rage. We love each other so much we'd love each other to death. When you decide to recover you say 'I am leaving you'. You look at what you really gained by being with them. If you are honest then it is nothing that is sustainable. It seems impossible but everything that you gained from them can be found without them, it is having the bravery and faith to know that it is the truth. The separation will only get easier the more time you spend without them, the more distance you travel from them alone. There are times when the urge to turn and race back, screaming for them to return is overwhelming, the panic that they are gone forever makes you run faster. These are the times that count. If you fight and walk on, even if it is so slow you are barely moving you are winning. Walking that path may feel like walking through treacle and it can feel like it is doing nothing but exhausting you, but what it is really doing is building your muscles for the race ahead. The wonderful race towards life. The treacle will thin and eventually disappear and you will be left with muscles more powerful than anyone. If you persevere you WILL recover and you will have a strength that no one else can imagine.

Fight for this, not for thinness.

Part two coming soon!


  1. Great post Katie
    You really captured what living with anorexia is like
    I body check too
    First thing in the morning I feel my hips to see how prominent they are
    I was having a bath recently and when I lay down I thought there was something underneath me, sticking in to my lower back
    Then I realised it was my tail bone protruding
    The sick part of me was happy

    The cruel thing about this illness is that we never get to enjoy the one thing we crave the most, thin, because we never believe we are thin enough

    You have great insight and awareness about your ED and that will stand to you

    Stay strong x

    1. Thank you,

      bones are my reassurance that I am there and real. Sounds crazy but i feel lost when I am fatter. I miss my thinness so much but i have to let it go because i want a job, children and icecream!

      you stay strong too

  2. Hi, thank you for your comment on my blog. I've just answered you, so see
    I hope you'll recover, it's a long journey... :)

    1. I didnt mean to insult your post, I hope i didnt, you have a beautiful writing style and I understand the horror behind ProAna. I guess Im just old hat at it and it all seems very stale because im used to it. Although it doesnt excuse the wrongness of it i guess i just get used to it, sad reality that it is. I do agree something needs to be done and now


  3. Katie, your post really touched me, this is so raw and honest... your abusive relationship is anorexia... mine is with food too but eating too much. I know it's all about control... I need to realize I cannot control my whole life.

    Thank you for commenting on my blog, ... I really appreciate the comment. Your blog is beautiful, I am following you now :)

  4. Its hard isnt it?! when you think you have found a way to control everything and you realise you are controlling nothing but your life which has shrunk because of the way you limit it to make it more controlled.
    thank you for your reply, everyone who reads means a lot to me.

  5. This is very well written. Too well. I remember her, my lost twin. The other me. Not “Miss Agent Provocateur add” I had to turn myself into, my compromise: to be healthy but not normal. But who is that one now, or rather what for?
    And where is she? The other, lost girl, as if I had killed her, like killing the Doppelganger" in Edgar Allan Poe’s “William Williamson" - I still wonder, who of us was the really the better person.

    But writing that now, I feel both of our presence. And maybe the mirror's reflection has got a lot less to do with it, than we think.

    I ask my self if I had the choice either to have all the flaws or perceived flaws in my appearance removed, or just being granted the feeling of being beautiful, what would I choose? The latter. Undoubtedly. Which does not answer any of my questions. But poses an entirely new one.