I have been looking at parts of my house lately with a sense of deep dissatisfaction.
My bed for instance has seen a lot of action – but not the kind that comes in 50 shades and gets made into questionable literature. It’s borne the strain of my excessive weight for quite a few years, and it’s not escaped unscathed. It’s broken three times, been repaired with spare parts from Ikea twice and is currently bodged, with the frame underneath the mattress propped up by a stack of old magazines after something irreparable snapped.
The mattress (a very expensive reinforced pocket sprung one) is not the supportive yet comfortable billiard table surface it was when I bought it. There’s an imprint of a heavier person in the middle of it which I hadn’t really noticed before. Lately it’s begun to swallow me. It’s not yet uncomfortable enough to motivate me to spend money I don’t have on a replacement – but it’s not far off.
My nearby bedroom wardrobe is largely empty – and most of my clothes are instead in a pile of folded laundry downstairs, awaiting their eventual journey to a charity shop.
Bit by bit it seems that everything is slowly emptying out of my life to make space for… well, I don’t exactly know what yet. As I look around me lately (apart from friendships which are getting stronger if anything) everything seems to have a sense of transience and impermanence that it didn’t before.
It’s mildly unsettling – but also at times exciting because it’s the kind of fluidity that is caused by positive change, and things are no longer as inevitable or unchangeable as I thought they once were.
The reason I’m thinking about this is because I was clearing out some old things this morning and found a few diaries. They were imaginatively titled ‘the diary of a fat person’ and spanned five volumes and a period between 1988 and 1992. They document a key piece of my adolescent struggle with (amongst other things) weight and my mother.
As I skimmed through them for an hour (I couldn’t bring myself to read some of it) I saw a young me, starting at 17st 7lbs and fighting against my mom’s willingness to feed me fattening food. After much internal and external conflict about food and how to avoid being fed meals over which I had no input or choice I eventually resort half way through the first volume to self imposed starvation (in direct and often painful opposition to my mother) for several months until I got to what must have been a very unhealthy 12st 7lbs in 1989.
I note that she keeps sneaking sugar into things and I eventually only seem to trust grapefruit – which seems at times to be almost the only thing I was eating – all the time obsessed with who would see me as fat and who wouldn’t, which was a very real and ever present issue.
I’d completely forgotten for instance (aside from the run of the mill bullying I endured each and every day) that one of my diaries was invaded on a school trip by an unknown person who had scribbled abuse regarding my thoughts about a girl and written above it ‘blubber boy’ in large letters. It was hidden deeper into the diary where I would only discover it later for maximum effect.
I was enraged when I found the violation but never got to the bottom of who had been reading my private thoughts. It was however just an example of something that happened every day in some form or another and the bullying rarely stopped.
I sporadically continued to write in these diaries – but as my weight increased once more I stopped documenting it – clearly unable to face up to to the reality of my eating habits and beginning to drink more and more. The last time I recorded it (until many years later) was the 11th November 1992 when I hit 16 stone.
These (painful to read) books detail the development of coping mechanisms for dealing with life at home that remained in place for many years – until decades after I left.
The last saved diary I have (which was more of a calendar by that time) is from January 1999. After much cajoling from my partner when we lived in Aberystwyth I’d joined Weight Watchers.
This in itself isn’t new news. Some time ago I found (and posted) my old weigh in card – but somehow I’d forgotten that I’m now almost the same weight I was back then before I faltered, stopped going regularly to my group and eventually gave up – much to the annoyance of my better half.
Shortly after (on my second card) I’d moved to Bristol and joined a second time – but swiftly retreated again. My partner was still adamant I needed to lose weight but I was not. I had rejoined under duress and (stupidly) rebelled – eating in secret behind her back.
I’m not far from the 22st 12.5lbs (currently I’m 23st 10lbs) that I was in November 1999. When I get there I’ll have hit a psychological milestone that has massive significance. For some reason in my mind at this point it’s almost like I have permission to be ‘normal’ again – to have a life that includes things like a relationship and possibly a family.
So it’s an exciting time – and one that I’ve worked hard for.
Oddly it may just coincide with another huge moment because today I got a call offering me a job – which I’ve accepted. I hopefully start in a couple of weeks and frankly I couldn’t be happier.
Then a new chapter starts – and just like my bedroom I don’t know what it will contain or what it will look like. I only know that my old patterns have been broken (permanently if I have any say in the matter) and I don’t ever intend to repeat them.
Which is just as well – as tonight I have an unexpected house guest, who appears intent on featuring in his second post (we first met here).
Initially Pugly was a bit unsure of me after being dropped off for a spot of dogsitting, and we sat on the sofa together eyeing each other with mutual suspicion. ‘Who is this strange man?’ Pugly seemed to be saying with his little frown. ‘I don’t know him and he smells funny.’
However – not long after this his stoic resolve began to break down.
When it did he edged a little closer – all the time doing his level best to hide the fact that he was warming to me.
I am after all extremely soft and warm and Pugly clearly had a cold bottom.
Before long he had stealthily come to a conclusion about our compatibility and, despite an unwillingness to announce it formally I think I got the message.
Of course – Pugly has no idea that this time last year he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show his thinly veiled affection. I didn’t have a lap back then, so he couldn’t have sat on it even if he wanted to.
So tonight internet we’re both benefiting from radical positive change. Long may it continue. 🙂