I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. Two weeks ago Friday I did something I’d never done in my life. I called a helpline.
I found that I really couldn’t handle the fact that at the school I like, a lot of the people I liked were going on diets. And not just women, but men too. And my deep, deep seated horror at this wasn’t just at the fact that they were dieting, but at the part of me that was like hey, I should do this too.
I’ve really never talked about this. It has taken me a very long time to realise that a lot of my issues around eating are not just me being weird. They are issues. Most of my teenage years I literally could not eat a full meal in front of other people. I could eat some things like fries, chocolate, ice cream (but only in a cup, not in a cone), occasionally prata or a hamburger (but never bigger than one layer), never rice ( I LOVE RICE), rarely spaghetti only fusilli. Never noodles in soup even though I love them. I worried a hell lot about the fact that while I knew I was thin, I never thought I was any kind of attractive, and to be honest I didn’t think I was that thin. To be honest, it’s difficult for me not to think these things now. I ate at home, so I wasn’t any kind of anorexic or bulimic. I was just really really hung up on the idea that if people saw me eat they would somehow hate me.
In JC I was in a class with boys who would inhale their food in absolutely disgusting ways and they were totally okay with it. And some of them I still hang out with, and eat with, and the fact that they would think this is totally bizarre and they really don’t care is one of the reasons why I am grateful for my friends. But there were also boys who enjoyed reminding me that I wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t smart enough, and wasn’t really much of anything and really, the only reason they hung out with me was because all the smarter girls weren’t interested. Which, really, isn’t good for anyone.
So really it was university, and living alone and realizing that hey, eating can be enjoyable if you’re doing it with people you feel safe with. It’s okay to enjoy your food with other people, not just secretly at home in the middle of the night after picking at fries you’ve shared with your friends. So university was good. The fact that most British people are way bigger than I am also helped a lot.
But then I came home and compared poorly to the shorter, thinner people I was surrounded by, and got comments like “I really think you should lose some weight”, and I was off again. But this time it wasn’t so bad because I started exercising, and exercise really does give you endorphins and endorphins really do make you happy.
Then, here, I lost weight last year after an awful bout of stomach flu (3 days of not being able to keep down solids can do that to you) after which I went back home to a chorus of “Wow! You look great!” And resisting the temptation to go back to being damn weird about food was difficult.
But two weeks ago, in school, that really was the worst. This teacher had left for some job training course that took 6 months and came back a whole lot skinnier, with a new wardrobe, and cute makeup. And she wasn’t fat to begin with but all she can say is “I didn’t want to go back to the time when I was 8kilos heavier in high school” like it was some kind of curse. And she tells me I’m skinny and I’m dying inside because I feel like there is no way, absolutely no way she is telling the truth. And the office guy skips meals and is aiming to lose at least 10 kilos in order to be in shape for some competition two months away. Another teacher is on a 200 calories for dinner diet. The only guy I can count on is another English teacher who has a “cutely chubby” girlfriend and really likes the fact that she isn’t skinny. And really isn’t ashamed of it. But when the others get together and talk about diets and how good it is to be skinnier all I can think is “FML I hate all of you it’s hard enough to eat lunch in the staffroom and now I have to listen to this crap”. And I couldn’t deal with it.
So, I called the helpline. I didn’t tell them about myself, I told them about the other teachers, and it was good enough because the woman on the other end of the line said “You know, you sound like a sensible person.”
And I thought “Hey, maybe I can be.”
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