To say that I have a difficult relationship with food is an understatement. The truth is I have an eating disorder. Not anorexia or bulimia, which most people would assume from such a statement, but what in medicine is called UNS, unspecified. To be more exact, I am a food addict. Yes, for real.
I don’t need an excuse to eat. The urge is always there, I always want to eat, and every waking moment that I don’t is the result of a conscious decision and effort to not do it. Resisting when the urge grows stronger doesn’t just lead to me getting hungry – I panic. I cry. I beg. I tremble like a leaf. My entire existence screams at me to EAT! Even if I had a hearty lunch just two hours earlier, that doesn’t matter. Because it’s not a matter of eating to satisfy a physical hunger, it’s addiction.
How do handle an addiction, normally? You make yourself stop. You get sober, stop drinking alcohol if that’s your vice, stop taking drugs, stop gambling, stop… But you can’t stop eating. Basically I am like the alcoholic who tries to get rid of her addiction, but who has to drink a glass of wine three times a day.
Why am I telling you all this now?
Well, here’s the deal. While I can’t stop eating entirely, what I can do is fast for a few days. It’s horrendously difficult, but I can do it. I must be able to do it. It’s not to lose weight, it’s not an extreme form of dieting, it’s all about breaking addiction’s spine. It is about taking back control.
It’s been a few years since my last real fast, but now I feel it is time again. The husband is away, so I won’t have to suffer through the ordeal of seeing him cook and eat. Smelling it, hearing the sizzling of meat in a hot pan, hearing the crunch of chewing… So, now is the time.
It is morning now, and I have had a cup of tea. Day 1 of fasting. I will not eat today. I will not eat.
I’ll drink plenty though, water and tea. If it gets too bad I might allow myself fruit juice. But that’s it.
I know that many see fasting as too extreme, as potentially dangerous. But don’t worry. My body has plenty of energy stored, I’ll be fine. It’ll be difficult, but I’ll be fine. And of course I’ll stop if anything seems to threaten my health.
Commence Fasting Day 1.
Wish me luck.
Getting the urge to delete this blog. Because it’s crappy. Because who cares what I think? Because a person who speaks up is likely to get metaphorically punched in the nose. Because it hurts when people misunderstand what I am trying to say. Because I am terrified of being mocked by trolls. Because I don’t fucking matter and my words will be remembered by no one. Because right now, all I want to do is cry.
I could really use a hug right now.
A few days ago, on Monday morning, I crashed. The night before I was crying myself to sleep after some unwelcome news and in the morning everything felt dark and dull. I poured myself a cup of tea and sat down on the couch. Had a sip and looked out the window. And everything just stopped.
Couldn’t move. Couldn’t speak. Just sat there.
My husband got worried of course. I wanted to tell him it was alright, but I couldn’t get the words out. It was difficult enough just to move my eyes to look at him. Stuck, I felt stuck in my own head.
He drove me to the hospital, to this emergency psychiatric place. Thoughts kept spinning in my mind, it may have looked like I was half asleep but it was quite the opposite. I was aware, fully aware, painfully aware of every little detail. My uncombed hair. My husband’s concern. The chatter of others in the waiting room.
There was a woman there, waiting for her turn, who started talking of babies. On and on she went, describing her previous pregnancies and how giving birth was the best thing ever, the best, the best. Husband told me not to listen but I couldn’t stop it. I listened, and felt close to blacking out. My head was about to explode it seemed, I couldn’t breathe and everything hurt. I hurt, the world hurt, the woman’s words hurt.
I couldn’t sit there listening. In a full panic I fled into the nearest bathroom and sat down on the floor, in a corner, crying.
We were at the hospital for half a day. I talked to doctors – or rather they talked to me while I merely managed to whisper a few stray words in return – and got pills.
Once home I slept.
The day after I slept.
And the day after that.
Despite sleeping all day I’ve also been able to sleep all night, so my waking hours have dwindled to barely more than a handful per day. I’m exhausted, absolutely exhausted. All I want to do is sleep.
I wish I could just make it stop. I wish I could be normal. I wish I wouldn’t hurt my husband like this. I wish the pain would stop.
They call me from the hospital every day now, to check on me. They keep asking if I want to kill myself. Every day they ask. I keep saying no. They don’t seem to believe me. But I keep saying no. I won’t. Even though I feel worthless, even though I’m sure my husband would be better off without me, I won’t. I want to live. I want to grow old. And I want to see this hell through and come out victorious on the other side.
I woke up in the darkness of night with a funny feeling. A funny wet feeling. SHIT, I thought, I’ve started bleeding.
So I hopped up to the bathroom to check. No blood. The wetness, I don’t know what that was, something clear/white. Perhaps remnants of the pills I shove up there three times a day, hormone stuff to make things uh, better? I really don’t know what it does. The clinic never really said. They just gave pills and said here, use these. And I’m a good girl who does as she is told, at least in this context.
My lower abdomen aches as it so often does right before I start menstruating.
I don’t think I’m pregnant this time either.
On a brighter note, remember the blade I mentioned buying? I held a little ceremony last night to symbolically tie it to myself, make it mine and only mine. Even beforehand I felt energy rising, and once it was time I was just in the right mindset.
It wasn’t dramatic. But it was beautiful. Even though I was a little clumsy in certain aspects of the procedure, it went well and left me with a feeling of calm certainty and strength.
It also made it clear to me how much I have to learn. Not through books and articles, but through doing. I learn the most there, at the shrine or during meditation and ritual. Not merely trial and error in a practical sense, but in a spiritual one too. Each experience allowing for a step forward. I am curious to see where it will lead.
I’ll start you off with a picture of this morning’s needle. Day three of IVF attempt 2, woop woop!
But now, today’s topic is not actually IVF. Last time I promised I’d write something more proper on the topic of period cramps, so here we go. Let me take you through a little story.
At the age of ten I had my first taste of this hell. I was in class when all of a sudden it felt as though lightning struck in my lower belly. I folded forward and gasped for breath, utterly terrified. With tears streaming down my face I went up to the teacher.
“Have you started having your period yet?” she whispered kindly.
I shook my head and mouthed a no. The pain was still so intense I couldn’t even stand up straight. Period cramps? No I thought, this is too bad. It can’t be it. Something must be wrong I thought, seriously wrong.
The teacher was kind. “Don’t worry,” she said. “You’re probably just getting your period.”
I had my first period within weeks of my eleventh birthday. The bleeding wasn’t a problem, of course it was icky and uncomfortable but still not a problem. The pain however was hell. Unable to rise or stand up straight I would just lay down, slowly rocking my hips back and forward in a desperate attempt at relieving the pain. Painkillers could take the edge off but not enough, there would be pain until I could fall asleep and escape into nothing.
“Don’t worry,” my mom would say. “I had these terrible cramps too. It gets much better after you have a baby.”
Somehow hearing that is no relief, not when you are a twelve year old biting into a pencil to avoid screaming. (No, not really when you are an adult having tried to get pregnant for seven years either!)
Several times it got so bad that my family took me to the emergency. Gynecologists examined me over and over, and every time the result was the same. Just period cramps, some get them bad, sorry. I got stronger painkillers but they knocked me out, had me sleeping all day, so I eventually stopped taking them. I couldn’t function either way.
In school I was always at the top of my class. I was the study horse, only I didn’t really need to study until highschool when I attended the International Baccalaureate and studies suddenly got real. But before that? It was too simple, I could ace most tests without any work. So yes, I had good grades! But there was one thing that made the teachers unhappy – my attendance. One or two days a month I was just gone, my mom having called me in as sick, leaving me with far higher amount of sickleave than the other kids. Now this may sound silly, but you try being a 14-year old trying to explain to your male teacher that no, you’re not skipping school. You’re just curled up in a ball of pain due to cramps. They accepted it eventually but the skepticism still hurts, to this day. Of course they thought I was exaggerating.
This continued as a young adult. Every workplace eventually sees the awkward talk with the boss where I have to discuss menstruation. There is always skepticism. Can’t you take pills? Yes, but if they are strong enough to kill the pain they are strong enough to put me to sleep. I’ve tried, repeatedly. What does the doctor say? They say it’s just period cramps, they can’t help. Of course it sounds strange, almost every woman has period cramps after all and most work just fine. What kind of special snowflake is this girl who tries to claim she can’t work due to period cramps?
During the last few years the question of endometriosis has come up. It could explain the pain, if that’s what I have. There might even be treatment! I still haven’t had it checked. Am I stupid?
Yes probably. But do you know why I haven’t made the doctors look into it? I have mentioned the possibility to every gynecologist I’ve seen the past few years but they’ve always just brushed it off, but surely I could press on?
The simple explanation is I am afraid. I am afraid of hearing yet again that no sorry, it’s just period cramps. Of getting a pat on the head and being sent off feeling like a fool, like every other time I’ve gone to the hospital with hellish cramps.
Feeling like a fool is no reason to not seek medical help, I know. But this is humiliation I’ve lived with since the age of eleven, and at thirty-two it is pretty damn deeply rooted. I just know it won’t be endometriosis. I’ll get a sympathetic shake of the head and a shrug, I’m sure. As always.
This blog post is probably one of the worst I’ve written. So full of self-pity and stupid moaning that I am tempted to simply delete it. But no, I think I’ll leave it. Self pity and all, I’ll just put it out there. I’ll just press “publish” now before I change my mind. ARGH. Yes. Here it goes.
Over the years I have made, found, and bought a number of items that I would classify as ritual tools and stuff. (Yes, that’s the word I’ll use, live with it!) Some can easily pass for decorative pieces, and some may even be cheap mass produced stuff found in thousands of other homes as well. Some are more expensive, and some are hand made by me or others. It varies greatly.
I might be talking about a little bowl. Or a basket. Or a knife. Or a candle. Or a jar of dirt. Or perhaps a little figurine.
Practical tools and decorative pieces, anything and everything. What they all hold in common is that they hold meaning and purpose in my own ritual sphere. It’s not about how pretty something is, or how expensive. It’s not what anyone thinks about it. In fact I often prefer to keep these things entirely out of sight to avoid anyone having an opinion about them whatsoever. Questions leave me awkward, I still do not quite know how to speak of them. Writing is easier, so here I am.
Candles, yes I have candles. One for each deity I approach. One for the ancestors. Others for specific purposes. These are perhaps the most common, and the most scoffed at. It doesn’t matter. To me the candle is a focus to guide my mind and a symbol of intent.
Bowls, plates, cups. Practical tools I use mostly for carrying offerings. There is nothing wrong in using a regular kitchen plate for this, but for me personally having special items for this purpose is valuable. Again it is not a matter of what looks cool, it is a matter or intent. Of focus. Of what meaning I give it.
Some items were unplanned. Sometimes in a shop I will spot something that stirs my mind in a certain direction, towards a certain deity most often. If I can I might then buy it both as an offering to said deity, and as a tool in future rituals – seeing how its very existence reminds me of Her, Him, or Them it becomes a strong practical symbol.
A practical symbol, hah. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?
But symbols are to me practical. They hold meaning and I use them. Sometimes the symbolism aligns with greater cultural contexts, sometimes the symbolism is only my own. Both are important, I find.
An hourglass to be the physical representation of time.
My collection may seem strange but for me, every piece makes sense. Every piece has its use. Don’t mistake it for vanity, it is not about buying the cool and pretty things. Don’t mistake it for meaningless mysticism either, it is in fact very meaningful. Don’t mistake it for peer pressure, I honestly don’t give a fuck what others think of it, my own ritual tools are for me. Besides, my friends are mostly the sort to just laugh at these matters anyway.
A jar of ashes.
A set of runes.
A wooden staff.
Practical tools. Symbols in physical form. Focused intent. Meaning. That’s all.