From Grazia, 26th May 2008, by Charlotte Ward:
If I’m honest – and, on this subject, it’s hard to be – I was experiencing a stab of friend envy. Why wasn’t I getting married? Would my boyfriend propose one day? And, maybe more importantly, how was all this “good news” going to change my relationship with these two friends?
As always, I hated myself for feeling that twinge of mean, because admitting you’re not over the proverbial moon when brilliant things happen to your best friends is a bit like saying you didn’t cry at Beaches, or that someone’s newborn is quite ugly, actually.
Friend envy isn’t new – we’ve been dealing with it in one form or another since we were kids – but the politics of how we treat it in our thirties are complex. For many of us, friends are the new family, so conflicts become so much more intense. And when they flare up, the feelings you have inevitably take you back to the playground.
In my twenties, I turned my green-eyed moments into a wake-up call – if a friend’s achievement shone a spotlight on my own insecurities, then I needed to pull myself up by the bootstraps and make changes to my life. When a journalist friend of mine, Jenny, got a dream job on a national paper while I was bored in my regional role, it made me apply for jobs in London. When one of my closest friends (and wobbly tum body-double), Laura, dropped a dress size (unveiling a stomach that would have made Liz Hurley cry) two weeks before we went on holiday to Ibiza it made me join a gym. And when my best friend Claire got married, just as I realised the guy I was with wasn’t The One, I found the courage to split up with Mr Wrong. But then, in each of those circumstances, it was clear what I needed to do to “catch up”, to stay in the gang.
In your thirties, the stakes are higher and life doesn’t always go your way. Jealousy can work the other way – ripping through a friendship, causing chaos and destruction. When children come into the equation, things can get especially prickly.
The adage is ancient, but it still resonates: “You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends”, and maybe that’s why feeling jealousy makes us so uncomfortable. You pick your friends from the many women you meet. You tell them everything. You let your guard down faster than you would with a man. You think that they will be there forever – they won’t care if you get middle-age spread, they won’t cheat on you with their secretary, or leave you with the kids. Revealing so much to them makes you closer, but more vulnerable, too. So when something goes wrong and they suddenly become someone you envy as opposed to a mirror to your life, it’s natural to feel a little strange. But is it beause you genuinely want their life? Or is it simply because you’re terrified that with each new move they make – whether it’s the ring/mortgage/baby/promotion – they are moving further away from you?
There’s always a yin to the yang, and while one aspect of a friend’s life may seem desirable, they could be battling against other less perfect things, too – so you should always take time to listen and support them. […] One distant day in the future, I’ll catch up […] in the life stakes – I’ve realised it’s not a race. If envy does make an unexpected visit, I’m going to swallow down the lump in my throat and discard it from my mind. After all, as one friend says, “It’s the thoughts we act on, and not the ones we don’t, that make us who we are.”
Yesterday I was all enthusiastic about restricting and planning my binges. Ha. Fucked that up. I wasn’t ‘supposed’ to eat until dinner time today after yesterday’s binge. I got to half three or so this afternoon and I don’t really know what happened but I even as I was saying to myself “I can stop doing this” the binge food was going in my mouth. So I felt the craving (which, if I’m honest, is kind of exciting especially compared to my boring existence) and ate. I ended up eating over three quarters of the giant packet of jaffa cakes which is 1100-1200 calories. I didn’t finish it and didn’t eat the other packet of biscuits. I didn’t even try to make myself sick.
Other than the fasting, I think a big trigger was that S, my support worker, had to cancel our appointment this afternoon. I hadn’t planned to be in the house this afternoon when my hunger would be at it’s worst. Though I wasn’t looking forward to being out if I was feeling bad. Also there are a lot of random triggers in town like walking past places selling binge food.
I felt pretty bad physically after binging. I’ve been so unbelievably thirsty since yesterday’s binge. It was really horrible in bed last night. There must be so much salt in that junk. I feel a bit better now I’ve had lots of water and some paracetamol for the headache.
I don’t think I’m being hard enough on myself after I binge. My inner voice said some pretty harsh stuff to myself about failing yet again and never being able to do anything but I should hit harder. Should I? Shouldn’t I be more compassionate to someone who feels so bad that they are binge eating? Be nice to myself like B, my psychologist, says. I feel so confused.
Last night and first thing this morning I planned what I would eat this day and I planned it around a binge. After working out various scenarios in my head I decided on: no breakfast, no lunch, binge at 4pm, no dinner, no breakfast tomorrow, no lunch tomorrow then start eating again with dinner tomorrow.
I wanted to go into town and go to the pound shop to buy binge food. When I was there several weeks ago I saw good binge food. I slept until about a quarter to two which was part of the plan to avoid eating earlier. Then I got up, medicated the ratties, did some laundry, waxed my face (what a fucking palava) and got the recycling ready. Then I left.
I couldn’t believe how easy it was and I felt really calm. I decided I was going to do such-and-such next and then off I went and did it. Just calm and pleasant.
I walked to the recycling point and sorted that out. Then I bought a bottle of diet coke from the newsagent and started drinking that. I was hoping that drinking something fizzy would help me throw up. The first pound shop I went to wasn’t the one I was originally thinking of but it was good to look round and I’m glad I know where it is now. I remember enjoying the music on my ipod as I walked round. I bought a plastic box with a lid for the bathroom and two packets of biscuits. I started to feel I was spending too much time staring at the different biscuits as I was trying to choose something that I would like and would be easy to throw up. I keep remembering a post I read saying that pop tarts would be like lead in your stomach and bread-like things are hard to throw up.
Next I went to pound shop further along. I bought a plastic tray for the seedlings tray and a packet of apple puff things that I wasn’t sure about at all. Again, I was feeling paranoid about standing in front of the shelf being unable to decide what to buy. I thought about going to M&S but that would be amazingly hard and triggering. I would half expect myself to start binging in the supermarket pulling things off the shelves straight into my mouth.
I didn’t feel I had bought enough from the two pound shops so I went into Greggs which was a few doors away. I bought four cream-filled doughnuts and was pleased how cheap they were. It wasn’t until I had walked about ten minutes up the road that I realised I didn’t have any way of knowing how many calories were in the fucking things. I thought about not eating them (ha ha).
As I was walking home I realised that my head hadn’t been that calm and quiet in ages. No relentless inner voices or intrusive thoughts or whatever the term is. There were gaps between my thoughts. It was like taking diazepam.
When I got home I thought about not having the binge especially since I was running about an hour behind schedule and was worried that J would be home soon. But I just kept on with the plan. Took the bin out, hung up the rattie laundry and put on another load. Once the food was out on the kitchen table the craving and want started anyway. It takes your breath away.
- diet coke = 3
- 12 apple puffs = 1254
- 4 cream-filled doughnuts = 912 (estimate from web search)
- total = 2169
The apple puffs were really good and satisfying. I do this thing where I stuff lots into my mouth which seems to satisfy something. The doughnuts were foul. I think they were stale and perhaps the cream was off.
I put another bin liner into the waste-paper bin and sat on the toilet in the main bathroom. I made myself gag a couple of times with the table spoon then again a couple of times with my fingers. Then I knelt on the floor with the waste-paper bin in front of me. I spat up a little water on the first gag but that was it. My vision went funny like I was in a cloud of midges and my eyes and nose watered but I couldn’t make myself be sick. I guess I didn’t try hard enough and wasn’t desperate enough. I gave up.
I haven’t eaten anything since though I’ve had three cups of tea with semi-skimmed milk. I told J that I had food poisoning from the rice salad, made with left-over rice, we had two days ago. He said I should really eat something and I said I would have some soup but we were doing different things this evening so he didn’t notice that I never got around to it.
I had more energy and motivation this evening that I’ve had for weeks. I did the dishes. I finished the laundry. I sorted out the vet beds and got the smaller cage put away. I made J dinner. I sewed buttons onto J’s coat. I cleaned out the rat cage on my own and washed the box and the rat carrier. I tidied up the bedroom after the rats’ run.
I do kind of know that this will be a fucking disaster and I will regret starting this up again. The same way I regret having anything to do with disordered eating behaviour in the first place (I think). I thought of being completely honest with B, my psychologist, and saying what I’m doing but I guess she will think that if I continue with disordered eating then it undermines the treatment of all my other problems. Maybe she would even refuse to continue seeing me if I didn’t at least try to recover. I can’t remember if she was the one who once mentioned ‘contracts’ about self-harm or suicidal thoughts but I think that was F the nurse.
The space in my head is so amazing. I really want to have that. I suppose other people would say there are better ways but I don’t know them.
I weighed myself this morning after eight hours sleep and I am 14 stone 10lbs which is 206lbs or 93.4kg. That makes my BMI 34.7. The last time I posted my weight I was 14 stone 7lbs. I’ve been weighing myself twice a week or so since then and it’s always been within those three pounds.
It’s completely unsurprising as I’ve had several ‘proper’ binges (including two I’ve not posted on 9th June and 18th June), several ‘mini’ binges and I’ve comfort eaten a lot too. There have been several times where I’ve nearly tipped into a binge but haven’t quite. It’s all a fucking nightmare.
I meant to start filling in the food diary on Friday morning again (after promising myself to re-start the week before too) but I haven’t done a thing.