I felt for ages that I’ve needed to address this, but I never really knew where to start.
I’m not skinny. I’ve not got that classic enviable body shape that you see plastered all over Instagram. And as I’m typing this I’m feeling a crushing sadness, because I’ve spent so long wanting that more than anything else – wanting to have that body that everyone else admired, wanting to fit into size 8 clothes, and it’s sad to have to come to the reality that that will never be me and to let go of that dream.
I’m writing this post the morning after a binge. I used to be a huge binge eater. You know the sort of binge. The one where you’ve been semi healthy all day. A pot of yoghurt and fruit for breakfast, some soup for lunch, maybe some popcorn to fill that 3pm void, and then you get home and there’s this wave of emotion and tiredness and FUCK LIFE. So you trot off to your corner shop and fill your arms with anything that’ll bring just a touch of happiness and positivity to your life – anything that’ll give you a moment of amazingness.
I did this yesterday. I purposely ate a small bowl of chicken broth for dinner so that I could make up my calories in sugary rubbish from my local Co-Op. My poison of choice? Dime Dairy Milk and a £1 pot of sugary watermelon sweets. Which just FYI, are my favourite kind of sugary sweets along with blue and pink bottles. Come to mumma, you guys.
I sat on the sofa with Chris and ate said sugary sweets from the comfort of my sofa den and chewed them up on one side of my mouth because the other side was a tad tender from a lame wisdom tooth and I was just feeling a bit damn sorry for myself.
Fast forward an hour later and I’m lying in bed in my pants and an oversized t-shirt from Pink and I feel like absolute shit. I feel like the worst version of myself, physically. I’m bloated and feel sick, and I’m lying there just digusted at myself for inhaling so much sugar and so many calories in such a tiny time frame. Why did I need that? Why did I need that surge of happiness that enters my blood as I’m throwing the food back? Why?
Present day Hannah isn’t much of a binge eater. Mostly because I am happy. Truly happy. The sort of happy where you don’t have to rely on cheap kicks of e numbers and carbs to boost your mood, if only for the 10 minutes you’re inhaling it.
And when I do do it, I remember why I don’t. I remember the surge of guilt and feeling like a whale monster flopping about the place. The feelings of overwhelming unattractiveness that are left alongside the empty wrappers. It’s just not worth the comedown.
Don’t get me wrong, I bloody love a good Dominos delivery after a long and sleepy Sunday. I get a bit giddy when Chris suggests we get dine in for £10 from Tesco on a Friday night rather than eat the leftover veg rotting in the fridge draw, and there’s nothing that makes my soul happier than a curry and cava night with the girls.
But those situations are different, they are opting for a less-healthy meal option rather than just attempting to wolf down as many calories and e numbers and sugars and carbs within a short space of time to fill a void, the way you do with binge eating.
And binge eating is the reason I’m larger than I’d like to be. The reason so many people feel the need to comment on my weight. Binge eating is what got me to this place. Binge eating of the emotional kind.
That, and heavy drinking (and 3am doner meat and chips – guilty), oh and some splendid genes which mean I have supersize boobs and thighs, which is nice.
I don’t remember when I started binge eating, I don’t remember whether it came separately to the bulimia or whether it came hand in hand with it. My memory is hazy, but I have images of coming downstairs in my dressing gown and stuffing whatever I could find into my pockets – chocolate bars, cakes, bread, dinner leftovers. My absolute favourite was those Heinz tinned steamed puddings, all the yum. And then eating them in secret in my room within a couple of minutes, hardly stopping to breathe.
Then I’d drink a shit tonne of water and stick my fingers down my throat.
Bulimia never made me slimmer. It never made me lose weight. It just let me eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. It also gave me hideous headaches, made me need to nap all.the.damn.time, made my teeth basically transparent, gave me bad breath, and made me spotty.
Sure, I wanted to be as thin and pretty as the girls in Sugar magazine, but when I started on my decade long cycle of abusing my body it was because I wanted to be in control. I wanted a hold on something when it felt like everything else was changing and out of my control.
I wanted people to care about me, to love me, to want me, I desperately wanted attention.
And, as time went on and I got help, it was much easier to let go of the whole sticking my fingers down my throat part of bulimia than the binge eating part of bulimia. And, strangely, it’s only been in the past couple of weeks, as I’ve reflected on my weight and my relationship with food growing up, that I’ve realised how long I continued to binge eat even after my bulimia itself had calmed down.
So at some point, I stopped with the weekly binges. I know they got less when I moved to London. I lost a bit of weight, I drank all the wine and ate all the salads, but honestly? It’s living with Chris that has put routine into my food and eating habits.
I’d be too embarrassed to just sit on the floor in my Primark pyjamas knawing my way through enough food for a 5-year-old’s birthday party. And I don’t need to, I don’t need that sort of comfort and fleeting excitement the way I used to. Because happiness.
I won’t ever be slim the way I want to be slim, the way the world wants me to be slim, because the years of alcohol and binge eating have taken their toll and done their worst to me. I could diet it away, but I know it would be a long and tough road and I’m just not sure the outcome would make me any happier than I am now.
And you know what? I love eating salads for lunch and then saying FUCK IT LET’S ORDER ALL THE GARLIC BREAD SIDES for dinner. I love getting a Bircher pot and skinny latte from Pret, only to get to a press day and instantly accept the chocolate croissant ushered my way. I love enjoying food. It’s who I am.
I’m sorry if my less than perfect body offends people and makes people feel the need to call me out on it, but this is who I am. This is me, flaws and all. And maybe, maybe it’s worth asking why somebody is the way they are – maybe there are emotional scars from their past that have damaged their relationships with food.
We’re all too ready to hate people for not being magazine beautiful without knowing about the person inside.