Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My Most Destructive Misbehaviour – Part Two

My most destructive misbehaviour is an eating disorder which stems from early childhood. Issues around food certainly manifested themselves since my earliest recollections….

My grandfather, being a well known Army General had many people visiting who would share meals with us. Our front door would never close. Once, when I was a small child, I rudely told a group of very important delegates that they had no business being here, since they had already had dinner with us the night before!

Meal times were always regimented and on the hour. There was never any question of missing a meal or not arriving to the table on time. Meals were always in the dinning room apart from afternoon tea which was sometimes at the table, or sometimes served in the sitting room or garden. Every meal was sacrosanct - I was never allowed to go and eat at a friend’s house. My duty was to sit at the table with the rest of the family. As a young child it became very laborious sitting at the table for long periods listening to adult (usually political) conversation about the state of affairs in our Eastern European country. Sometimes I was allowed down from the table, but sometimes I had to stay for the whole duration.

When my grandparent’s weren’t cooking they were shopping for fresh ingredients. Taking their time to smell, sample and touch the freshness of what they were about to buy. When they weren’t shopping they would be talking about food and planning meals for the next couple of days. Their whole lives seemed to revolve around cooking!

Lunch and dinner consisted of 3 courses. I would have been more than satisfied to have only had soup for lunch, but I had to have the main course and desert as well! From early on I developed various techniques, such as pouring half of my soup back into the tureen when no one was looking and hiding food in my serviette, then putting the serviette up my sleeve and emptying the contents at the bottom of the garden. Refusing food at the table would have been more than my life was worth!

Breakfast was the only meal which wasn’t ritualised. Once I was old enough to make my own breakfast, I would pretend to have eaten, by placing a small amount of cereal and milk in my bowl and spreading it around. My grandmother always interrogated me on what I had eaten and I lied, telling her that I had a huge breakfast. She was always suspicious but just let the matter be. As a very young child I remember often being sick after breakfast. My grandmother knew I disliked porridge, hot milk and prunes, yet every breakfast this was what I had to endure – simply because she said it was good for me! The rush of being hurried off to kindergarten or school coupled with the disgusting sticky gloop of the porridge and hot milk inside me made me bring it all up. I remember my grandmother getting really irate, telling me that if I ever vomited again, she would make me eat my sick up of the floor! Of course, she never actually made me do this, but the threat was there and my grandmother was really most formidable when she was angry!

My grandmother hardly ate anything herself and was very self disciplined when it came to looking after herself. She wasn’t Anorexic/ bulimic but she certainly had some issues around food. She had a fairly large breakfast, a glass of soured milk for lunch which she cultured herself and nothing at all after that. Once a week she had a fruit day when she would eat nothing but fruit. Apart from eating very little she derived great pleasure from feeding other people. R made the mistake in refusing seconds once to which my grandmother looked mortally offended saying in her broken Eastern European accent, “You DON’T like?” R learned not to argue with my grandmother, instead he put everything on my plate so that I could do the old serviette trick.

Actually, it’s part of my culture (especially regarding my grandmother’s generation) to never accept ‘no’ as an answer. My grandmother would frequently pile her guest’s plates with food and not listen to their protests at all. One time after piling R’s plate for the umpteen time R started being more forceful. “But you MUST eat,” My grandmother said, “You need your strength because you're driving!” (R was driving us back home that night.) This statement of hers has remained a private joke between R and myself ever since!

My grandmother used to take a large number of vitamins a day which also included slimming pills and diuretics. The fact that she took slimming pills makes me seriously suspect that she had some kind of eating problem herself. Taking diuretics was just plain foolish, if not dangerous, since they only remove any excess water from your body not fat! When she became old her housekeeper had to hide all her vitamins and other pills since she just wasn’t absorbing them into her system. She had to be operated on a stomach ulcer since the pills were not being properly digested. I can still see her to this day searching the credence for her missing pills crying and cursing the housekeeper for stealing her pills!

The one thing my grandmother was totally obsessed by was exercise. She went to the gym twice weekly where she would spend all afternoon. She had a bar installed above her bedroom door and would swing on it doing pull-ups every morning and evening. In the very early morning she would stand in the hallway completely naked and would brush her body down with a stiff brush claiming it was good for circulation (which it is) and then proceed with her exercises. Apart from swinging on the bar she lifted weights and did daily press-ups, all of which she did in the nude. She was certainly very much enamoured by her body and was one of the vainest women I’ve ever met!

When I was seven years of age I was sent to boarding school in the South of England (much to my relief!) The food at my prep school was quite frankly inedible. I survived on food parcels from home and the school tuck shop. I went hungry and actually enjoyed the sensation – not so much the sensation of hunger, but the sensation of finally having control over my own body!

My earliest recollections are just a very skeletal outline of some of the difficulties surrounding and influencing me whilst I was growing up. Events in my early childhood certainly go some way to suggest reasons why I developed an eating disorder. I also believe my grandmother had some food related issues which may have indirectly triggered my own eating disorder.

The totally amazing thing about Loving Domestic Discipline which I will discuss in my next post, is that it is so effective in eradicating something which I’ve had all my conscious life. I never thought in my wildest dreams, that I would be cured from something I've always had. Something that had unfortunately become such an integral part of who I am - a bulimic. Loving Domestic Discipline is slowly teaching me from scratch how to eat - since it's something I've never really known how to do. Although I still have a long way to go, thanks to LDD I can now definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel!!! :-)



At 8.9.10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing so openly. Though the methods you and your husband have employed to help you through your recovery might be "controversial" in some people's eyes (and I'm sure many therapists would have a heart attack upon reading this lol), I find it inspiring that you still share them so freely. You have found a way that works for YOU and that is all that matters. As a fellow ED sufferer I appreciate you sharing your story of hope and motivation.

Thank you,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home