Monday, January 12, 2009

Constant Craving

(aged about 10. As you can see I was not a fat child)
I was about seven when I first discovered the sedative affect of food, as far as I recall. Not any food, but sugar and starch. Bowls of cereal with heaps of sugar would stop me feeling. That is what I wanted. I was not aware of that at the time. All I knew was that by stuffing my face with these types of food, I felt better. To feel numb was better. To feel good was to feel nothing and that was to remain my definition of feeling good for most of my life. The possibility of feeling happy didn't occur to me.

I have little in the way of memory from this period. I know that i witnessed the death of my friend. I am told there was confusion over who had been killed, him or me. Since I was told all of this by my mother, I do not know what is true and what isn't. I have my own memory of seeing his face on the front of the newspaper under the headline THE BOY WHO DIED OF HATE and my mother showing it to me and asking who it was. My reply was 'me'. I do recall that but I do not recall the boy nor do I recall his death or anything else.

I also tried to kill myself at around this age. I was sexually precocious but do not know why. I am told this wasn't normal. I have no recollection of anything untoward from that time. I do know that I had a terrible experience, for me, when I turned up at school for the start of a new year to discover my teacher was a man. I hated school from that day. It had never occurred to me that teachers could be men. I do not know why I was frightened of men.

I liked where we lived, it was country, and I loved to play out in the fields and go on adventures and climb trees. I remember these days clearly, the sun and the fields. I also remember the menace in the background but I don't know what that was. I was afraid under it all but don't know why.

I was very fond of the adults around me, neighbours. I barely recall my own parents at this time, or my two brothers. I was especially fond of Mr and Mrs R. I was heartbroken with loss when we left them to live in Germany for a second time. My mum, who for once saw my sadness, told me they would all be there when we returned. she had lied. When we returned they were mostly gone and when i saw Mr and Mrs R, Mrs R had a huge belly. I knew then there was no possibility they would want me and keep me. We left then and went to Singapore.

My memories of Singapore are a mixture of fascination, excitement, grief and loss and above all fear. I dealt with all this by eating. I was not a fat child. I also played a lot. I resorted to food to keep myself medicated. It was here I was first accosted and sexually molested. It was here I learned with no doubt that my parents did not love me. My father's disgust of me, which I already knew was there, developed into violence. He nearly killed me more than once in his rage. My mum did not stop him. I knew I was on my own. I knew I was abandoned. I knew above all that I was worthless and destined for eternity in Hell. I wet the bed. I had nightmares. I was terrified. I ate to numb myself. It worked. I had no need to stop. It was also here that i started to strive to be loveable, or even likeable, something to keep me safe.

Then we left there for Australia and here is where my eating really took off. It was hell on earth for me. Within a week or so of being there, I had been taken under the wing of a teacher. He happened to be a child pornographer. I was bullied mercilessly at school. I was called queer and poof and pansy. I was spat upon, pushed, kicked, taunted each and every day of school life there. My nick name at school was 'shit'. I got more of the same at home but in a different why, apart form Dad's violence. His violence was worse. No one in my family was on my side. My elder brother fled back to England on his own. He denies this had anything to do with the violence at home. My younger brother started telling how I was possessed by demons and how his friends could help me. The Jehovah's Witnesses. My brother from here on played a big part in fear and self hatred along with religion. He wonders why I was violent toward him, which of course he holds me accountable for, yet denies any responsibility at all for anything himself, including his silence when I was locked up in a mental hospital. Even then he refused to tell the truth. Almost 20 years later, he did to me, but now denies it again. I have written words from him, snail mail, that show he thought differently at one time. It matters not now. I am free and they are still bound by the lies.

Meanwhile my self hatred grew, my fear grew, and my body grew. The amount I ate grew.

Then a few months before I was 16, my anorexia nervosa started. This is precisely how:

I went on a diet. No trouble at first. I found it easy. One day, one of the boys at school who bullied me, noticed and said something nice!!!!!! That was the precise moment I became anorexic. That was the moment I realised that if I was thin, I would be liked. If I was thin, I would be safe. If I was thin, my dad would find me acceptable. If I was thin, even God would love me and I would not go to Hell. If I was thin, then everything would be perfect and I would be safe. I stopped eating. It wasn't noticed at home of course. They noticed nothing. Not even when I used to cut myself. I still have the scars today at 50 years old. No one saw them fresh though. I gave up doing that, it hurt and was pointless. It did make me feel real for a while though, to see blood coming from me. It showed me I was real.

So this was the start of my love hate relationship with food. I stopped eating. I really believed I could live and not eat. I went one whole day without food. i binged and I felt so ashamed I vowed not to eat again. I went two days without food. The same thing happened. I felt deep shame. I went 3, 4, 5 days without food, I binged, i felt shame, I hate myself, I wanted to die. My whole life became about not eating and hating myself for giving in and eating. I couldn't just eat an apple or a piece of chicken. No, I ate a whole of bread, a packet of biscuits, a whole cake, crackers, ice cream, chocolate. Then I felt like I would die through bursting. However, the food worked and I felt numb and I then just read books, feeling nothing. Sleep, like a drunken stupor, would come upon me and I had what i wanted-oblivion. I'd wake up full of self loathing and disgust and FEAR. Fear never left me.

I soon learned to purge. Vomiting was not easy for me so I had to find another way. I discovered laxatives. I took 30 Nylax at a time when I binged. I could not aford to get fat. I had to be thin. to be thin meant I was a real man. Ii'd have that flat stomach. My dad would see me as a man and not something he was deeply ashamed of. The others would stop bullying me. They would accept me. I had to thin no matter what. I was weak willed, I had to learn not to eat. So the cycle of not eating for days on end and then binging and purging. It was indescribably bleak and terrible and my suffering was huge but I had tremendous will and I kept this up for many years. (yes I saw myself as weak but now see how strong my will was! Yet I think it is only fear that makes me appear strong).

I became terribly afraid of food. I had to thin if I wanted to be loved. The only way I could feel good was to starve myself. I did actually feel GOOD not numb when I was starving. Yet it was always spoiled by the need to eat eventually and the pain and shame was overwhelming.

I killed myself. Something like 18 hours after I did what I did , I was taken to hospital. I meant what I did. I wanted death. I had come to the conclusion that Hell could not be worse than my life had already been. The Devil I did not know was much better than the Devil I did.

I had od'd. I took hundreds of pills. I knew I would not be found or disturbed until the morning, by which time I would be free. The morning came and my mum could not wake me. She went to work. A work colleague asked her what was wrong and she said she hadn't been able to wake me. The work colleague called the ambulance! All my mother and father could thing of when I was aroused and committed, as the shame I had brought upon them. People knew their perfect loving family wasn't. Their fantasy did remain intact. My brothers kept quite. Everyone played their role of nice loving people, so sad they have a lunatic son.

It has taken many many years of suffering and learning and searching to be who I am today. Free and happy and content. Food is still an issue. I have not finished writing about food but this is more than enough for now. How I came to understand myself, my issues with food, and how I now live with it is there waiting to be told when I can.


Anonymous said...

You really did win the lottery on families, didn't you? I'm amazed at the stories you tell. I'm far from a perfect mother, but I just can't imagine standing by while someone hurt my son. I'd go after them in a big way. I think most mothers feel this way, but there are, as you well know, a few that don't. They may have their reasons and weaknesses, like fear of being alone or of not being able to make it financially, but for me there'd always be the total and deep self loathing I'd feel for MYSELF for not intervening. Actually, I hope your mother DOES feel that, wherever she may be.

Today will be a call John on the telephone day. Whenever you write these things I have to call him. I don't know if it's to reassure him or me.

Anonymous said...

Dear Colin,
What a nightmare. I can't even think of anything appropriate or comforting to say, but I wanted to tell you that I feel for you.

Nan said...

I honestly don't know what to say, but, having read your words, I cannot NOT comment. The description of your childhood is heart-breaking and I am totally unable to wrap my brain around a mother (or father) who would do such things to their child.

It's a tribute to your own strength that you have been able to turn that around for yourself and make such a positive contribution to others around you.

Unknown said...

Most "normal" mothers will defend their children. Others walk away when the father starts in on the child. Others join in.

Those children who survive seldom escape without scars. Some are from damages against themselves. Others act out against others.

I was never sexually abused but physical and emotional abuse was there. Now I'm 50-something, overweight and suffer from depression and anxiety.

The difference is now I understand it was not my fault and the abusers will have to answer for what they have done at some point in this life or the next.

FuguesStateKnits said...

Oh dear, Colin, your family were evil. I'm so sorry, but that's the only thing I can say. It never ceases to amaze me how evil people with a so-called middle or upper middle class "loving family" can be so concerned about appearances that they forget the reason for family in the first place: to love.
Ah, the waste of your time! I'm so sorry - so very sorry! But you are not evil and I thank God/Goddess/the goodness that IS!
blessings to you, dear sweet Colin!

FuguesStateKnits said...

PS for what it's worth, I share the same constant cravings - so I don't feel the grief, the sadness and the pain of rejection, of abandonment, of sorrow. It's when I feel loved that I don't need that. Food is a tough addiction, because one cannot just give it up, like alcohol or drugs (as if one could just do that, but I think you know what I mean). One has to eat to survive.
I really admire your survival in this area as well.
I get the cutting thing. So many of my clients - mostly young women who have been sexually abused - do this to finally FEEL something after numbing themselves.
I believe in God and Heaven. If I didn't, I'd be out of my mind by now (hmmmm, maybe I'm already there,LOL!)

Anonymous said...

I really don't know what to say, other then "We are glad you are here.

Unknown said...

Ohh Colin,

What a story and your family - I don't understand how they can be like that.You have gone through alot even before you were 16. I truly understand how you feel and I wanna tell you that I do admire you for sharing this with us. I would'nt have the guts...

Angela said...


When i read things like this it makes me mad...mad that someone, anyone has to go through something like that.

You are a wonderful, honest, nice person....i get that just from reading your posts. How you came through that just shows how you are such a strong person.