Alright, so my mind is constantly revolving around my dissolving marriage that I often forget about my personal fun filled flaws.
When I was the tender age of 16 I developed bulimia nervosa. It started very casually as most eating disorders do. I wanted to lose a little bit of weight and I did and people innocently said ‘you look great!’ and from that day, being thin was good and not being thin was bad. Spiralled out of control, I lived in complete secrecy with this disorder and it consumed me until I was 19 and I couldn’t keep living that way and destroying my health so I searched for help.
I went into full recovery and was in an inpatient program for a while and outpatient for 6 months and I made a great recovery. It was incredibly hard and challenging, and took a while and I had to really look deep into my heart to heal myself from what brought on this illness in the first place. What many people don’t realise is that an eating disorder is not about being self absorbed, or vain, or being thin. Its not about calories and portion sizes and scales and overexercising. Those are just the symptoms of a much bigger problem. Those are the behaviours and obsessions and coping mechanisms that the individual is hiding behind.
Whilst an eating disorder never truly leaves you, I do believe that you can recover. That inner voice of the disorder will always be there, lurking in the background. Some days or weeks or even months the voice is quiet and then there are days that it feels like chatting again and you have to decide for yourself if you are willing to entertain it or not.
For 6 years I like to think I thrived 🙂 of course the illness was still lurking in the background, but I faced it full on. When I had the urge to over exercise or skip a meal, I stopped myself and asked why and I confronted the problem. This is the behavioural side of the illness – the chemical side is still there, but you learn to control the behavioural side.
In February this year, ED(eating disorder voice) started chatting again and it was ever present. ED was around every corner and I confronted him, I however found myself losing with every conversation that we had. ED had a better excuse or a better solution every single time. This is where the chemical side comes in. After my insanely wild wedding (my husband hated it, we rode on a donkey card, there was swimming at 5 in the morning and there were drunk granny’s) it was wild. After my wild wedding and fun yet incredibly depressing honeymoon and after being asked for an annulment 5 days after my wedding and being told I was attention seeking and blah blah blah, its actually boring now to keep talking about it. After the roller coaster I was finished. My self esteem slowly started to drop by every hurtful remark from my husband, I was guilt ridden because I distanced myself from my family because my husband said I was a little child, and I was shameful because I started to believe that I was in fact this awful human being that was childish and narcissistic and self absorbed and attention seeking and selfish.
Constantly beating myself up for being an awful wife, all these things transpired into my shell and my body was the one that had to pay for this. When we face a threat we go into survival mode and we revert to old habits that make us feel comforted. For me that was ED. This is why I call an eating disorder a symptom of a much deeper routed issue.
It was so much easier to focus on my body and every calorie I was consuming and it was easier to exercise for 2 hours a day to get an endorphin rush and feel good about myself than it was to face what was going on. Every time I wanted to face what was going on in my life, my husband shut me down for worrying too much and calling me attention seeking. So I found comfort in binging/purging, over exercising and starving.
I eventually told my husband that I had relapsed in April and he was very supportive and loving – he was incredible! I thought that opening up to him might actually be our saving grace. It wasn’t. He suggested I see a therapist and then when I did and only told him after I had seen the therapist he was furious. I wanted him to be part of my recovery but he refused to go to therapy with me. It then became evident that he was not interested at all in me never mind the illness I was grappling. He found the eating disorder attention seeking and vain and didn’t bother to even read one sentence about what the illness was actually all about. (The annoying part is that if I was looking for attention I would have confided in my parents and they would have driven 480km’s in a heartbeat to come and support me and they would have showered me with love and get to the root of the symptoms). This is one of the reasons I also distanced myself from my family because the minute I opened up to my mother about y relapse she would have known things were not right. She would have immediately searched for the root of the problem because she would know that the eating disorder was the mere surface.
So I pottered on in my self-recovery and found a therapist and a psychiatrist and went on medication and started dealing with my illness. I however couldn’t fully grapple with the ED because until I faced up to the real problems, ED’s voice was going to be comforting me.
In June I had enough. My husband worked constantly, when we spoke he was in a different world. When I tried to confide in him he didn’t care and told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and to find hobbies. If we would fight and I cried, he would say I should stop feeling sorry for myself. He even once told me that I was like a little child that he felt he had to entertain all the time (all the time? we both work 9-6, there were only about 2 hours a night when we saw each other). So I had enough and I couldn’t keep living that way. I was completely abandoned and neglected and became part of the furniture.
I called up my mom in June and she was incredible and supportive and very concerned. I went to visit my family about three weeks after that and I opened up to my parents about what was going. Not only were they supportive of me, they were supportive of my relationship. They tried to explain my husbands point of view and they tried to help me to learn how to communicate better and they tried hard to support our marriage because they loved us both.
By June my eating habits were more or less under control, I did start restricting, but I was not fully consumed by the illness. Nothing changed in my marriage however, my husband kept lashing out and he kept asking for a separation and I kept saying we should try. It was quite clear that he wanted out but he wasn’t man enough to say he did and he needed it to be all my fault. So one night ager a huge fight, when he said ‘I can’t wait to meet my new wife because she will love me and respect me so much more than you’ that was the last straw and drove off. The minute I drove off, he sent all my family and all his friends messages that I had left him and that we were getting separated. I left, it was my fault – I didn’t try hard enough – that is the message that everyone received.
3 days later my husband wore his best apology and I was back home and we were going to try again and we were going to couples therapy. Some hope had returned, even though he made it quite clear there was no hope when he said the magic was gone. Therapy was a mess! We sat for an hour while he cried to the therapist about what an awful wife I was and that if he stayed with me he would kill himself and that if I left him he would kill himself. Thats a hard position to be in, no matter what you do, your husband wants to kill himself. The couples therapist got hold of me and said he was a narcissist and was not willing to listen to anyones point of view, he would never change, and she could not understand what I was still doing in such an emotionally abusive relationship. She would help us if he was open to it but no one could force him to work on our marriage.
3 weeks later my husband told me I had a black heart and all the emotional abuse started again and I left for good. He refused to believe he was emotionally abusive even though all these signs were there:
A person’s behavior may fall into the category of emotional abuse when:
The behavior in question does not stop or even pause when the recipient begins crying or asks for time to cool down. In fact, abuse may escalate as the recipient of the abuse becomes more vulnerable and upset.
The behavior is frequent, occurring several times in a month or less.
Vulgar language, insults, and demeaning language are used or baseless accusations are made.
“Arguments” are one-sided: one person does all the talking, never listens, and is not kind to the other.
Threats of violence are made.
The person who is abusive does not apologize.
The person who is abusive will not recognize the validity of anything his or her victim says.
This was 7 weeks ago and I have since received 278 emails about how awful yet wonderful I am. How I have no empathy, and am selfish yet I m the softest most loving person in the world. Very contradictory.
Do I still love him? Forever. I forgive him and I love him. But I love myself too and I saw the way he was treating me and the way his family treated him and I panicked because I knew he would treat my children the same way one day and he said he would be hard on them. I couldn’t let this happen, he told me I was a weak person and I had to toughen up and I couldn’t. I couldn’t toughen up to the point where everything my husband said scared me, even when he was being sweet, I couldn’t trust it anymore, and I got scared.
My husband now views me as his saviour because I opened his eyes as to what he was doing and I saved him from himself and he is a changed man and isn’t even drinking anymore. Which I believe, because that is the man I have always loved and wanted to spend my life with. That is the man I believed in and I love. I love his flaws too, I just couldn’t let them destroy me.
If I can be the woman that has helped my husband to face his drinking and his soul and his inner demons – then my love for him has conquered. Then my heart will smile. Because I love him, and if I didn’t stand up for myself, he would never ever have got to the point where he looked at himself and he would never have realised that he is adequate and he would never have realised the beauty that lives in his soul.
Whilst I am sad that he had to destroy the woman he loved more than anything in the world to face everything, I am happy that he did. I wish I could be the woman to spend my life with him, but I can’t, in my heart too much damage has been done. I sometimes wish I was stronger and that I could forgive to the point where I wanted to be with him still, but I can forgive but I unfortunately don’t have the strength to forget after all that has happened.
I really miss him deeply, every day, every minute. I miss the fact that I am not the one to support him through his personal growth and illnesses, but instead that I was the one to push him into the emotional growth.