Sunday, 10 October 2010

The week I grew up

I never imagined how I'd feel if that moment came, but I think, it didn't matter as much as I thought it would - because all this is the truth.
But would I change it if I could? Of course.
I feel like I'm nearing the time that all these blogs inevitably seem to face - permanent deletion - as if Ophelia had never written. It's going to come, I think, with my 'growing up'.

One day, I will look back on my life, and be able to point to this week as the week that I grew up.
I grew up the week I went back to school again.

As most readers will know, I hate my job and I despise The City. That's simple. The more complicated issue is how I survive from hereon...
I began to consider becoming a high school English teacher a few months back, and am now moving forwards with my application, potentially to start my training in September 2011. (Teaching being one of three courses of action I am currently pursuing - but I will not bore you with details). To be successful in any teacher training application, you must of course, have done some work experience.
So this week, I took some time off from work and I went back to my old school to 'observe' my old English teachers at work.

Even after my first day I felt like the great grey cloud had been lifted from my mind. I was somewhere good - with books and kids and people who thought and felt like me. I smiled. Hell I was still smiling when I got home.

In the staff briefing on Wednesday they announced one of the pupils had been hospitalised and put in care for her eating disorder.
She was 13 years old.
I felt sick. Ashamed. Sick and ashamed of myself - an adult - having written the things I have on this blog. Imagine, if she had searched online for advice, motivation, inspiration, thinspiration whatever you wanna call it. Imagine if she read anything of mine and it had spurred her on. Imagine. I could never forgive myself.

And as the cloud began to lift, as I sat with the school kids and talked about Shakespeare and Orwell so easily and naturally, it became easier for me to accept who I was. I was born a plain, sweet girl, with a gift and love of literature. I'd spent years rejecting who I was, trying to force myself into moulds into which I wasn't meant to fit. You don't have to be beautiful, glamorous or thin to be an English teacher - most of them have had children - the qualities needed are ones I already have.
This week I tried to fit myself into a mould already made for me. And it was so... liberating. To fit in my skin, to speak my own words, with genuine passion, to smile a real smile from real joy, to stand confidently in a place I belonged, knowing I wasn't a fraud.

And I was safe and at peace, coming home from school, visiting the library, immersing myself in literature, under a blanket of comforting words.
I didn't have to be anything I wasn't.

I grew up. I stopped being a girl. I stopped caring about all the things that had plagued me these last few months and years.
I have to be older now. I have to be the one that is grounded and steady. I have to be the one saying sensible and responsible things. If I want to teach I have to be the adult, the one with the right answers.
I have to give up the dream. Because I don't fit into that goddam dream. Maybe sometimes I looked the part but I was so unhappy and bleeding black inside.

In the end I wasn't even doing it for me. It was a guy, or perhaps guys in general. And what did it give me? Pain - fucking PAIN. Heartache and tears, a feeling of worthlessness and emptiness. Still never being enough. Used and trodden on, forgotten and discarded, drained of all the goodness and love that used to fill my heart.
So I'm done. I stopped clinging on to those old, tired childhood dreams. I'm not fitting into any plastic mould for any man's ideal plastic woman.
You know, it wasn't the fact that Alex broke up with me that was so traumatic. What killed me is that he showed no emotion. He never loved me - that much is obvious in the aftermath - he was incapable of such an emotion. He knew how sick I was - no I never exposed him to the vomiting and the blood and the manic depressive breakdowns - but he knew I was so fucking sick. But when he got bored, when he wanted a girl who looked a bit more perfect he just cut me off with a phone call and not another thought. Without realising it, I had been killing myself, not to win his emotional love but to fulfil his physical ideal - and in the end I couldn't do either.
He said, emotionless, when I met him on his return to London, "You weren't on facebook for a few days afterwards and I thought you might have [committed suicide]."
I looked at him stunned.
He knew. He knew exactly how fragile I was and how close. He knew exactly what he did to me, he knew the hell I cried, he knew. And I never received one message, nothing, no checking even ONCE to see if I was ok. Fucking hell. Fucking hell. What the fuck was wrong with me to give someone like that so much of my love.
A few days before I got involved with Alex I wrote I could not let another guy into my life:
"If he were to leave me or betray me, it would kill me. I know I could never take that pain of heartbreak."
It's true, I never believed I was strong enough to take more pain.
But I took it - and I'm still alive.
I'm the fucking strongest person that little boy will ever come across in his life. I'm a fighter. Yeah, I cried myself to sleep for weeks, I couldn't hold my head up high. But I didn't fucking do it. I didn't die.
Oh Alex pushed me over that edge alright - but it wasn't a crossing into madness and suicide - he pushed me over the border into adulthood.

There's a 13 year old girl from my school in a hospital.
Maybe I helped put her there.
Or maybe I can become a strong woman and a strong role model to girls who spiralled like I did.

This was me:
and when I become a teacher, a wise adult, I hope I will be able to save whoever that girl is now.

A word perfect description: the rest of the world was living in colour....I always felt once, twice removed from people....I became incredibly good at adopting a mask....I became a master of projecting this image...I can't stand to live in my skin....and yet no one can see it... couldn't for the life of me keep my eyes open...the impact at the bottom never being violent enough...
With awareness comes a taking of responsibility. Wanting to die and kill myself was just so simple. It's the not wanting - it's the deciding that actually I want to live and give this my best shot. That is so much more difficult.

You know something? I didn't cry today.
But don't think I'm better yet. I threw up everyday, twice, three times a day this week. Just because...
because I'm fat and that's what I do

I'm twenty-three years old now. Remember when I started writing here, I was twenty-one. I was ashamed at the age and the waste and the lack of time left to change. Jesus Christ I'm twenty-three now. The last boat left so long ago without me. The best years are gone. The waste will live with me forever.
All the pretty pictures from my last four years as a student - I will always have to look back at each one and remember only how sick I was, how I tortured myself for days before, and how I binged and cried myself sick when the camera turned away.

I am at the top of the NHS waiting list now. Last Friday I sat down and told my boss. "It all makes sense now", he said. I don't care what he meant by that.
But I'm going back in to treatment. And God help me, after 'starting treatment' countless times, I will stick at this. This psychiatrist is not going to let me walk away. She is not going to let me forget. She called and chased me endlessly until I found the courage to make an appointment and tell my boss I needed the time off work. She is not going to let me rot. And God help me, I am going to stick at this until it's done. I want to be truly beautiful and pure again.

Ophelia is not a tragic heroine.
I am just a heroine. An almighty heroine.


  1. My God, that was one of the most beautiful things I've ever read.

    I feel like, in a way, you saved me just now.

    I'll never forget it,
    Adeline xx

  2. Please, please keep writing about your life, and please tell me where I can read it. Maybe you could even keep writing here, but delete your back log. But don't disappear.

    This is wonderful and I truly hope it lasts. So much. You really deserve it. Good luck.

  3. What an inspiring, moving, powerful post. Thank you so much. All I can do is watch from the sidelines and cheer you on - you deserve good things and happiness, you're worth the effort it takes to have those things & I'm so glad that you have realised & made the choice to pursue them. Good luck!

  4. I´m so glad to read this, it was really inspiring.
    You are incredibly strong and beautiful, i hope one day i´ll be as strong as you sweetie.
    You deserve to get better and to do what you love, so i´ll be here reading about your life and supporting you in anyway i can.


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