I once lived with someone and she was awful. She wouldn’t let me eat and she tried to control every decision I ever made. Whenever she looked at me the criticism would begin.
“You’re fat and you are ugly. Nobody will ever love you”.
At first I would try not to listen, but over time she got louder and more persistent, more aggressive and much more spiteful. She controlled what I ate (if I ate) And when. Little by little, so I didn’t even notice, she took over my entire life. At first it was small things like treats and snacks…
“You shouldn’t eat that… think of your figure”.
Sometimes I’d ignore her warnings and eat them anyway but then I’d spend the rest of the day listening to her screaming and berating me. In the end it just became easier to submit to her will. She broke my heart, my spirit and my mind until I had no idea how to move away from her. I didn’t know how to exist without her in my life.
I gave my confidence away to her a piece at a time until it was all gone. She locked it away in a cupboard and wore the key around her neck like a medal. She was the victor and I was defeated.
If I wanted to go out I would need to strike up the most elaborate of bargains. 2 hours exercise for a low calorie meal out with friends. She would always have to come along, the gooseberry nobody wanted, but couldn’t seem to shake. Making sure I didn’t cheat or have too much fun. Whenever I spoke, she would snigger and snort with disgust, mimic my words back to me over and over so I’d know how stupid I sounded.
I was tired all the time – tired of her, tired of life. She didn’t care. She hated me and needed me to suffer. It was exhausting and I was exhausted. I would see people laughing, enjoying life, enjoying food and wish I could have some of that happiness, but my companion had convinced me by now that one bite of food would result in an immediate weight gain and render me even more unlovable than I already was. She had convinced me that I had nothing of worth to contribute to the world. The only hope I had of having any value in society was to follow her rules. I stopped going out. I cried a lot. I battled against food when I should have been battling her. Every meal was a major decision. A debate, a panic, attack, nausea and tiny bites. It was horrible. She was always there.
I once lived with someone. She moved in first and I saw there was a vacancy so I moved in shortly after. My god, she was pathetic. She would believe anything I told her and since I like to mess with people’s heads we were a great match. I’d tell her she was fat and the stupid woman believed me. I’d say she was ugly and dead inside and she’d believe that too – not at first because these things take time so I had to chip away. Little by little she gave herself away. Sometimes she cried and that disgusted me, she was so weak. Sometimes she’d try and stand up to me and that would enrage me more – HOW DARE SHE!
Sometimes I’d scream angrily at her and others little whispers were more effective.
Ugly girl. Fat girl. Stupid Girl. Useless Girl. Lazy Girl. Nothing Girl.
After a time it stopped being a game. I genuinely hated her and I needed her to go, to move out and take her patheticness with her. The snivelling, the tears, the constant fear that she seemed to wallow in irritated me. All I could do was continue to control her in the hope she would turn into a more bearable companion.
I knew I couldn’t carry on like this. One of us had to leave. I thought it would most certainly be me. I was so weak, so tired from trying to fight a much stronger foe. An opponent that had me completely controlled and trapped in a house she had painted grey. She had locked all the doors and closed the curtains.
But, as luck would have it, even when the curtains are closed sometimes a crack is all that is needed to let enough light shine inside to show you a way out. For me, that light was a book It wasn’t about anxiety, depression, eating disorders or how to get rid of an annoying housemate. It was about love and hope and kindness and joy and it was so profound that it spoke to my soul and made me believe that it was actually possible to climb out of the pit of despair I had fallen into..
A joyful spark resonated within me and started to grow. It was a slow process and the companion I lived with stayed with me for a long time, shouting her abuse, manipulating my thoughts and undermining my confidence. But over time I learned how to pay less attention to her and more attention to me. I was able to ignore the nasty comments and the mockery more often that I was responding to them. I was remembering who I was, growing stronger and stronger until one day I looked for her and found she was gone. I started to do things again, to find joy in things. I was able to love myself a little bit and to eat without guilt or self loathing.
I’m not sure what changed, but one day she started getting stronger. I tried screaming louder. I tried being more cruel. I tried so hard to keep my grip around her neck, but she stepped back and refused to listen. I kept trying and every now and then I’d get through. She would cry or give up for a time, but then she’d get back up again, faster and stronger. The game wasn’t fun any more. I’d had enough and there was no point sticking around so I packed my things and walked away without a word.
I put some paint on the walls, bright and beautiful. I was waking up as if from a long sleep. I opened the curtains, unlocked the door, stepped outside and took a deep breath. The colours were stunning, the air sweet and the world beautiful once again. I stepped forward, ready to take my place back in the world, to be a beautiful part of it and to live my life happily ever after.
The book I read, if anyone would like to read it is The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. It isn’t a religious book but it is a spiritual one and although it isn’t about how to beat depression or anorexia or anything else, I do credit it for helping me turn the corner to start on the path to wellness. It’s definitely worth a read.