Tag: conflict attachment

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #5

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #5

Protection in emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #5

“You will never touch me”

[I am sorry I have not updated this series for a while!]

In my first period of anorexia, one of the greatest functions of my eating disorder was a kind of defiance and separation. Anorexia definitely changed my personality, or rather, it was often as if there was a separate personality, much stronger than my own, rising inside me and gaining strength as I got thinner. She was strong and defiant and could not be hurt. She could keep me away from everyone and every thing that hurt me.

I was about 15 by this time and had suffered at least 11 years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse and exploitation. The family unit of my mother, my father and I were increasingly isolated and cut off into my mother’s sick (in both senses of the word) world and anything that tried to penetrate it led to terrible consequences (her sickness, her threats to kill herself, her threats to abandon the family, her threats of breaking up the family or of me causing her and my father to die, be taken away and so on). Anything that posed a risk to the world of her twisted thinking, delusions and manipulation had to be invalidated or removed. Visitors weren’t allowed to come into the home. Any social contact had to be planned and rehearsed beforehand, carried out to Mother’s specifications, reported back to her, analysed against her pre-prepared script. The daily routine had to run exactly according to her needs. She had to be recognised as super-human, a genius that nobody could ever sufficiently understand, the victim of everyone’s cruelty and misunderstanding who was so gracious as to forgive everyone because she “loved” them so much. Appease, pacify, agree, conform….the disaster wouldn’t happen, maybe….

My eating disorder couldn’t appease, pacify, agree or conform. It couldn’t be manipulated or invalidated. My eating disorder could defy, protect, shield, consume, grow stronger, defend, refuse to succumb and refuse to be controlled or analysed by her and even refuse to recognise her at all.

I remember that eventually, as my weight dropped and dropped, even Mother started to worry I was too thin and getting weaker. She’d encouraged my eating disorder at first, requiring my weight loss and dieting and reminding me how ugly I really was. Eventually it snapped out of her control and I think it was the one thing that actually scared her.

One evening, she called me into her bedroom. She told me to get undressed and stand in front of the full-length mirror. She’d done this many times before in order to shame and humiliate me and to slowly and methodically point out all the bits of my body that were bad and “too plump” and “too much fat”. Usually it followed a ritual weighing and reporting of my weight to her, her disbelief and being forced to repeat weighing myself in front of her. Now I flatly refused to weigh myself in front of her, but delighted in doing it in my bedroom in secret (always in exactly the same place, lining the scales up with a particular pair of floorboards) and was satisfied with the thrill of seeing the pounds drop. But for some reason, this day, I did obey her to get undressed and stand in front of the mirror. This time, instead of pointing out the places I was too fat, she pointed out where it showed I was too thin. Even I was shocked when I was forced to look at where the normal shape of my behind had started to flatten and disappear at the base of my spine. She continued telling me I was too thin and how she was worried.

A thrill of power went through me. It was frightening but I had never felt power like that. No, I thought. No. This is my body. All mine and you will never touch me again. In total silence I walked away from the mirror, away from her, out of her bedroom back to mine and got dressed again. I resolved to lose as much more weight as I possibly could and get as sick as I could, because this meant she would never ever touch me again. I hated her at that moment. I don’t think I was thinking of the sexual invasions, specifically (and indeed a lot of them I didn’t even accept as invasions at that time), but of all the hold she had on me and all the hurt. She would never do it again.

I had an awareness, somewhere, that she was worried for me and she was upset, and that my father was too. At that time, the need for the protection and power of my anorexia was much greater. I had become quite a nasty person, disregarding the hurt I was causing people who loved me (my dad loved me, if my mother didn’t). Or the anorexia in me was quite a nasty personality and I was becoming that personality. The power of anorexia was stronger than my usual nature.

Of course, it didn’t really stop me getting hurt, and it hurt lots of other people in the process. Eventually, it was acknowledging my father’s fear of what was happening to me that started to bring me out of this first period of starvation. To this day, I am not quite sure what, at that time, made me acknowledge that and shifted the balance of power towards empathy and reason, and away from the protective force of anorexia.

Ginny xxx

I am…. (she said)

(My mother told me that) I am:

Ugly. Greedy. Too plump here. Fat.

Pretending. Deceiving. Manipulating.

Pretending to be a little girl. Doing my act.

Punishing. Getting my own back. Repeatedly Punishing.

Deceiving.

Holding her in chains since I was a baby.

Not supposed to be crying. Look who should be crying, she’s the one who should be crying. [And she was – and shouting and screaming and ridiculing and sneering and shaking me and throwing glass…]

Going to make her have a heart attack.

Wearing her out. She’s lying on the floor unable to move because of what I’ve done. [I called out and nobody would come. ..]

Going to make my dad so upset he’ll have a car accident. He’s lying on the floor curled in a ball unable to breathe. Because of me. That’s what I’ve done to him.

Going to come down the stairs one morning and find her … [dead – I will not write here the graphic description she made].

A silly little thing.

Madam treating everyone like servants.  Reclining like an emperor on the cushions.

A baby that has to go on a walking rein. To show everyone what a baby I am.

…Pretending….

Repeatedly Punishing. ..

A threat to her personal safety. Putting her in hospital. The reason she goes into hospital because I frightened her so much. God help anyone I ever work with.

Impossible to live with.

When I’ve got what I want…

Reacting so weirdly to everything and I have to remember how all my reactions are weird and the damage I’m causing to the family.

Getting too much fat again.

Demonstrating that I’m damaged.

Leaving things hidden in places so that she finds them so as to show her that I’m damaged.

Pretending ( – I’ve already told her!)

A genius. Nobody is able to understand my incredible intelligence. She planned the moment of my conception and the moment of my birth. She wrote freedom into my very name. I was a genius and they could not cope with my intelligence. I was going to change the world.

Aware of her every thought and she knew exactly mine. Knew everything she was saying (on the phone to someone else). Knew exactly what she wanted.

Wearing her out( – look at her with 4 children and look at what my one’s done to me! )

Stopping her ever having any more children.

Causing the end of her and my father’s marriage.

Copying.

Pretending to be…

Testing. Testing the testers. Objecting to the test.

Those are just some of the things my mother (with her psychosis and disordered and abusive,  the doctors said) told me I am.

(She’d ask) what if:

Anyone’s watching?

Anyone hears?

Anyone from the government is watching?

The police are going to be called?

Anyone can see what you’re doing?

Anyone found out?

Anyone saw [what you can’t do]… are you very worried about the effects of your pretending. ..at how bad you ate at x … (you must remember you’re a whole school year older. ..stop associating with the little ones. ..)

If anyone found out. She’d be taken away. My father woUld be taken away. I’d be sent to a special school for morons. If anyone found out, they’d never imagine it was all because of me. They’d think it was her. Nobody would realise it was actually me. But I’d know and she’d know it was actually me. And she’d be taken.

So we had to cover it up.

Those were some of her ‘what if’ threats.

He (Father) agreed. Can’t you see how much you’re upsetting her? Look how much she’s smoking because of you. Stop snivelling like that. That’s what people do when they’ve had something really bad happen to them. Could you actually make a bit more effort? Is mummy even in the room to you? He’d sit there hugging her and stroking her feet and nobody would help me whilst I was crying and terrified and didn’t know how to end it.  This was the first day I felt I didn’t need to phone up to see how you were getting on with each other. Now look what I’ve found out. Why were you pretending? Where is she? What are you doing in here? Look how exhausted she is because of what you’ve done. She wouldn’t have to go to bed all day if you didn’t do these things. We could have had a nice day if you hadn’t done that.

She’s very lovely, he’d say. Isn’t mummy lovely? She’s very good at all of this… She’s amazing when she does that…isn’t that fantastic. ..

And he says he didn’t know what she was doing.

The threats and what ifs and horrible things I was, stopped for a while when I was anorexic. That was all. At least then the anorexia and my body was all mine and in me it was hurting, cleaner,  safer, nothing, numb but burning, longing but cutting off,  hidden, weakening, less, smaller, not, not needing. As soon as I got stronger it all came back and all the horror too. I was the problem and the evil one again.

So I am – evil,  dangerous, liar, fake, deceitful,  hurt people, going to cause the greatest harm, greedy, ugly, selfish, nasty, like a ruler with people in chains, disgusting, foul… all without knowing the harm I’m doing. I didn’t know it then when I was a child but it still happened and all this awful damage erupted from me, she said.

How did I stop them coming to take her because of me? How did I keep her alive? She didn’t give me care. I didn’t need care from her. I learned to manage without. All I needed was to stop the damage and awful things I was doing.

Ironically I did end up having to actually call them to take her! They did take her as she’d threatened. And they did say it was her with the problem and the illness and being abusive. And they did say it couldn’t possibly be me. So everything she said would happen, did. And that was to be when she and I would know it was all because of me. 

Oh yes – I know it. It never leaves. 

So cut cut cut and purge and punish myself and maybe I’ll get all the badness out or else keep it all in and hurt only me.

When I controlled enough in anorexia all the evil seemed to have stopped. But I can’t get back there.

I still hear it and believe it all even though I’ve started to feel angry in the moments my rational mind tells me how it was twisted and wrong and she did what she liked and he let her do it all to me.

And I can’t even write yet about … those other times. In front of the mirror. In the bed. With the bathroom. Telling me how I liked it.