NB. A lot of this will be conflicted and contradictory and make no sense. The human head and heart are like that. Asking for explanation or explication is fine, because it *is* confusing and completely idiosyncratic, but telling me it’s nonsense and therefore disregardable is, er, somewhat missing the point.
for most of my adult life, i’ve assumed that people have only wanted me, been attracted to me, by extension (illogical extension, but still) accepted me, beause i was strikingly thin. Yes, that thinness was an authentic projection of my self, because it included the neuroses, the self-doubt, the need for structure imposed by regulation of eating (pleasure). That self, my self,incorporated a lot of self-denial, because i have always, always equated hunger with emotional need, flesh with need made manifest, and felt both to be, well, unacceptable. (Hello, Dad!) Controlling them has always both distracted from my real emotional needs and afforded me a measure of control over them.
Now, i’m no longer thin, because i don’t do that anymore.
That thinness, that self-denial, that manifest apology for emotion and desire, didn’t protect me from emotional destruction. That was in another country, and besides, the wench is dead. Now, i’m bigger. Still smaller than most women, but now that’s a matter of build, not covering. I eat to my appetite and sometimes more, partly because food is nice and partly for emotional reasons to follow. In some ways, following my internal symbolic logic, this new body isa more authentic projection of my true emotional self, because the needs/desires/hungers *are* evident in the existence of flesh. But even tho it doesn’t have built-in the same desire to apolgise for myself in the form of self-denial, and people still seem to find me attractive. More so, if anything, it’s rather confusing. People still seem to want me despite the emotional needs i try to swallow with food sometimes and their manifestation on my body. This new, in some ways more obviously desiring and needing, body is still perceived as attractive or acceptable, and both of these break my head. Part of mewants to eat more,more, get fatter, ovrweight, in the hopes that my body will communicate to others the inadequacy i feel and the unacceptability I associate with my emotional self. But to do so would be quite difficult for me, especially now i’ve realised at a conscious level what’s subconsciously going on. Partly becaus in my case awareness of dysfunctionality mitigates against its practice, and partly because, frankly,my body probably wouldn’t let me. I’m ickle anyway, i have a pretty fast metabolism, i find eating when i’m not actually hungry very difficult unless i’m bone-tired, i love exercise for itself and don’t want to stop, and above all i’ve spent the last x years of my life learning to follow my body’s natural hunger signals, and that’s hard to unlearn. There is an extent to which i do sometimes eat (or, usually, carry on nibbling after a meal) when in states of emotional confusion becaus i don’t know how to handle the feelings and it pushes them away, but the more i realise i’m doing it, the less i can. But it’s hard, because i also just cannot compute on a bone-deep level that what people accept or desire is my actual self, my actual body. That nobody’s in love with me makes it easier, but i’m getting a bit old and, well, grown-up now to see that as anything other than a result of the person i am and the people i meet, and i definitely don’t feel able to completely blame my body anymore. (after all, i lost weight towards the end of my lastrelationship, and he really did love me, and didn’t notice, and it didn’t save us.) I don’t want to hate my body, i’ve tried that and it didn’t work, and i don’t want to be overweight, becausewith the amount of exercise i do I can really feel the extra pounds and they get in theway of the sharp clean feeling of muscle slicing through water, and that’s a physical pleasure too. Of course, as my previous (filtered) post might have indicated, sex and attraction are still a bit difficult for me to navigate emotionally sometimes, but i’ve been loved utterly and comprehensively for myself now, not for what i could be or do, and i’m no longer able to compromise in those terms.
I think there are elements of simultaneously using a layer of flesh to insulate me from the world and to insulate myself from my emotional needs and what i perceive as my true self. My true self, the core of me, is still that that bony,muscular, breathless, hopeful, bright-eyed 40kg girl who jumped on a train to Sheffield back in October 2008, who lived in the hunger and the glorious emotional and sexual vulnerability – and thus potential fulfilment – it represents. Who wasn’t buried under all these layers of flesh and pointless defences (minor insulation from the pain =/= either its absence or any degree of happiness), all this defensiveness and nihilism and pain. That girl the boy took one look at and said ‘wow, you really *are* that shape, like models and stuff,’ that had something to believe in and took gambles because they were honest and it was brave. All this stuff on top is these stupid defences that are necessary for navigating the world quite this entirely alone, layers of insulation i don’t want to need. I think if i was happy i’d lose weight again, without noticing,because i’d have feelings that didn’t cripple me.
So yes, there’s still a great discrepany between my body as it is and the self i feel is me and the body that reflects that self. And it distresses me that the worry about my emotional needs, the extent to which i feel them to be unacceptable, is no longer written on my body by excessive thinness. It means i have one fewer crutch in dealing with the world, too, for hunger is a distraction, no longer my ultimate ally. I can no longer prepare myself for an evening or reassure myself it’ll go ok by not eating beforehand, because i’ll just be hungry and it will annoy and distract me and prevent me from focusing on the company. unless the company is genuinely valuable to me, the emotional engagement and fulfilment it provides is limited and can’t distract me from the hunger anymore, either. When in company i feel accepted by, i tend to overeat because of the illusory safety it provides; when in company i feel threatened or inadequate with, i overeat to swallow those feelings. Pleasure in food is negative in my head because it’s a selfish pleasure; sex is ok, because at least then i can give something back (hur hur) too.
Hunger itself, although it’s sometimes my friend still, is also hard, esp in that inbetween not-quite-full-bit-peckish stage that reflects my subliminal, subsumed, problematic awareness of my emotional anguish. Hunger is also hunger for the boy, for love, for understanding, for desire, for hope, for optimism, for happiness, for companionship, for anorexia my long-lost lover, for the absence of loneliness, for the absence of literally unbearable and utterly constant pain, for love, the greatest painkiller there is (bonus points if you know the quote, again). For all the things i’ve learned to lie to myself i don’t need.
I’m confused, and i don’t know what to do. i suspect a lot of self-worth bullshit i’d previously projected onto love or stablity or my body to fix or resolve are coming to the surface. I hope that’s a good thing. It’s easier when people hurt or reject me than find me attractive, tbh. Rejection, pain, inadequacy reinforce a familiar sense of self, and the one i feel i deserve. Unfortunately, perhaps?, the number of people by whom i feel genuinely recognised and who can thus genuiely hurt me is shrinking of late, so i can’t feel comfortable in feelings of irredeemable inadequacy and self-hate either. But loss has been the conditioning experience of my adulthood, and continues to be so. The pain that i can’t bear, that i eat sometimes to hide, is the only familiar and constant thing in a world where these days loss, potential and actual, is my *only* true emotional reality. And it’s paradoxical, because in eating to suppress that, i’ve lost the body that i feel, however contradictorily, truly reflects my sexual and emotional vulnerablity, the place where *I* live, that truly reflects myself. And so the cycle goes on.
I wish the only familiar feeling wasn’t this one, the one of being achingly, suffocatingly, irrevocably alone.