I have a very…interesting relationship with my body. I go from feeling completely disconnected from it, to hating it for betraying me, to punishing it for getting me unwanted attention, to controlling it so I feel more in control of what is a slightly ridiculous lifestyle, to starving it so I feel better, and ignoring it when it’s trying to communicate with me. I don’t know how to take compliments for something which I channel all of my shame and sadness into. I try to see my body as something precious but I struggle incredibly. It is something which has caused me much pain and suffering, and I find it hard even now distinguishing between the pain and who in fact caused it – the abusers or my body. With a psycho ex girlfriend forcing me to list every fault or be punished, and too many abusers including family only ever deeming me of worth when I was submissive to them, my relationship with my body is one of confusion, anger, hurt and trauma.
At times my body responded to abuse in ways I just couldn’t understand as it completely behaved against how I was feeling, and spurred the abusers on. Despite scientifically knowing why this was the case, I couldn’t/can’t help but feel betrayed by it.
The only time I look in a mirror and feel good about my body is if I can see bones jutting through my skin; can fit my finger comfortably between each rib and see the proper shape of my hips and pelvis. Looking like that is the only time I was called a good girl…and although I rationally don’t want their approval, their acts of rape caused a strange bond held by terror but also by something deeper and more animal which I can never understand but holds me to them…keeps me longing for their approval despite knowing the damage it causes me. It means somehow their taunts about my body, their “thin-torture” and their sick drooling and grooming of me once I was thin is unbelievably more powerful than the words of professionals or my friends. I will never have a more harrowing, complex and deep bond with them and nor would I ever want to as it can only result from such constant rape and kidnapping. Despite the terror of being kidnapped and raped, I relied on the abusers to feed me. Despite their efforts to kill me I had only them to rely on keeping me alive. Despite them starving me of love and affection, I was still a child and needed that to survive so I still relied on them for love and affection. Therefore despite their evil abuse to make me thin, I relied on their “good girl” comments to keep me feeling vaguely worthwhile and wanted. Feeling that kept me wanting to survive, and particularly in my teenage years when I wasn’t in a ring surrounded by children and was even more confused and surrounded by sexuality, I relied on their want and need of me to keep myself somewhat grounded. I might have hated them intensely but you ultimately can’t kill or leave someone who feeds you and wants you, irrespective of the cost, if they are all you have. You can’t kill the person who keeps you alive, even though they keep you alive so that they can keep trying to kill you.
That power of such a paradoxical, complex, lonely and intense bond and situation, filled with trauma and confusion over what I really wanted and what they made me think I wanted simply cannot vanish overnight. I hate them all and yet fall to pieces at the thought of them not wanting me. I hate them all yet have no idea how to function without them. I’m terrified of what they’ll do if they find I put weight on. I’m terrified of the punishment but also of their rejection. Attachment torture is the worst kind, and whether they intended it or not…that torture includes my dysfunctional, dangerous, frightening but deep-bound attachment to them.
And so I still starve myself, out of fear for so much and also to gain control. I cut the top of my thighs, slowly and painfully, to release some of the badness. If I’m in pain I’ll push myself. It survived so much so I reason it can just keep going.
But the thing is…my body has grown tired and in need of support, just as I have. I don’t really get hunger pangs in the conventional sense as I trained myself not to feel such useless distracting things in the ring…and food was a couple of slices of mouldy bread evety few days, or drugged. My relationship with food was purely for survival and even then it was dangerous.
There’s no denying that the trauma of the last 20 years is beginning to take its toll physically, just as it has done mentally. For the last month I’ve been in near constant intense pain from the fibromyalgia, and incredibly exhausted. Heart palpitations are on the increase, and almost every night I have pins and needles in my arms and lower legs after a few minutes of lying down, with the sensation of someone sitting on my chest. This morning I skipped breakfast as normal, but by half eleven I had a fuzzy feeling around my lips and nose, felt hot and cold with a heaviness in my head, and very shaky. My body was screaming at me to eat something, otherwise I was going to pass out.
Initially I was angry with it for making me feel that I had no choice but to feed it. I was angry with it for being so weak so I punched my thighs brutally hard until I felt so dizzy that I was forced to stop. I then felt angry with it for forcing me to stop.
But then the little voice of reason whispered, “and would you punch anyone else if they were growing weak with hunger?”
Of course the answer is no. The sad truth of it is that I am an abuser. I abuse myself. My body. I starve it then punch it into submission and throw up most if not all of what it eats, then stare in a mirror and pick out every flaw and punish myself for it. There is no question that I’d be locked up if I did that to anyone else. And I couldn’t ever do it to anyone else. If I came across anyone feeling weak and dizzy with hunger I would respond with concern and try to find them food immediately, not punch and punish them. Why do I treat myself so horrendously different to how I’d treat anyone else in my situation?
There is no logical answer except for fear.
I’m tired of living a life ruled by fear and fucked up bonds. So earlier I made myself see my body wasn’t forcing control away from me at all, it was just desperately asking me for help. It carried my babies and released adrenaline to protect me and healed fast. It’s about time I helped it. If a child approached me now nearly passing out with hunger I would neither ignore them nor punish them…I would help. The abusers have tried to turn me into a monster and would probably be sick with glee if they knew how much I tortured myself in their absence.
So…I made myself two slices of toast and a cup of sugary tea. I’m no longer feeling dizzy or weak, though still exhausted and in pain. I was panicking with each mouthful, tears locking in my throat making swallowing difficult. I was terrified and ashamed. But I did it, because my body needs help.
It’s going to be a long road and I don’t know if I’ll ever have a normal relationship with my body and with food. But I’m gonna try…im going to start listening, and even if I’m not always brave enough to do anything, at least I’ll have listened. Sometimes someone just listening to me is enough for me to feel better. Maybe the same will apply to my body.