Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I remember, being too big.

I woke up to the sound of my blackberry alarm in pitch darkness.

What... Why was it so dark?
Welcome to winter.
I dragged out my coat from the cupboard and pulled it on as I shut the front door behind me. Memories came flooding back. As a teenager, I pulled on my frumpy school fleece or jacket as I went to the bus stop. A huge cloak of ugliness and foul shapelessness - years ago I felt the disgusting poison of my blood seeping out the pores of my face, ugliness, fatness. Why couldn't I be fresh and pure and lovely, why did I have to be an unclean lump?
I pulled on my jacket on the morning of the new season to feel these same emotions flooding back - covering up the pretty pencil skirt and fitted blouse with a woollen jacket and woollen discomfort. I felt the cold daylight burning my skin as it had been for years, harshly highlighting the foulness of my skin, my attempts to patch over my natural ugliness - but nature is harsh, is cruel is TRUE - the natural daylight shows you who I really am.

I felt a sense of blunt despair, an autumn grimness. I had been feeling this for years - since I was a little girl - years of self disgust - would take a lifetime to change - it would never change.

I feel power when I feel beautiful.
I've lost it with Chris now. I avoid him because I don't want him to realise what a mistake he made in finding me attractive. I know he got it wrong. I know he's going to see that. So I ignore him and hide from him. So he gets the wrong impression. Again. I told him, so he knows, I'm a horrible person.
I sit here in bed craving him, craving his comfort, the tightness of his arms around me.
That's all.
I crave a father. I want love - the unconditional kind - the fatherly kind - the kind where I can cry and the only thing that matters is that I stop.
Oh hell, oh hell, I am a grown woman and I write like a child,
think like a child, dream like a child, cry like a child.
Shed tears for a daddy I lost a lifetime ago. Little child. Little child who shed a tear drop on the card she wrote to partner the flowers on his coffin.
I run to the arms of a man - with an ever-changing face, knowing that I'm not running to him, but to who I want him to be, who he never will be, a face across the room that I cannot see but always feel.
And now, I have no understanding of l-o-v-e. I only know the way men feel for me is something else, something I do everything in my power to control,
but I have no power
I want to shrink and have his arms about me.
I am too big now.

Saturday, 17 September 2011



Scrolling down my emails on my work blackberry something is very clear- the last few days I have spent far too much of my time in the office flirting and far too little time working.
After a fair amount of flirting and copious amounts of emails being pinged across the row of desks, I'm going out with the new guy in our department on Friday for drinks.
As I explained guiltily to Rhianna:
"I've been email flirting with Chris... But I don't fancy him - he's just SO good to flirt with!"
And all of that statement is true- I don't fancy him, I just like pretending that I do... And I imagine he's the same - his asking me out for drinks wasn't asking me on a date, after all, banter is banter, banter isn't a relationship. So hopefully it won't be awkward and I won't get carried away beyond the bounds of flirting.

As for Sam, I seem to be more attracted to the older brother everyday. All I keep thinking is of his arms underneath that shirt - the rugby player, gym addict body that I crave for. Hell, that's all I want. He's sweet though, we are awkward together, like two shy people trying so hard to be cool and confident in front of each other - totally different to me with Chris where I'm an excess of bubbly, easy extrovertedness. Thing is though, I know I'm not his type and he's not mine, but apparently physical attraction counts for a lot. Is Sam attracted to me? Possibly, but we both know we would have nothing in common beyond sex.

Today I am in The Hague - the virtual, sleek city where cars and bicycles speed along cleanly down the wide open streets.
While most people might think business travel is glamorous, I can already say that the opposite is true for me. I lose control of my food. I lose control of my exercise regime. And those two little things make for a very stressed Ophelia.
Lunch was client entertainment. I ate half of the bread roll which had come with the rest of my extravagant salmon salad - which meant I had to go back to my hotel room before my next meeting to throw up. I danced around my two-floor luxury suite and sang jazz songs aloud.
Dinner was another work affair - a sit down meal with my boss: the woman who hired me knowing that I'd just come straight from 'treatment' for an eating disorder. Of course she believes that I am better now, but the cracks in the mask are impossible to hide sometimes, and I could feel the brave exterior begin to crumble in front of her eyes across the table. 'I have issues with potatoes... is it weird if I just have a starter and a soup? ...' I could feel myself losing control of the situation.
I cursed the fact that I had to eat. Why did people consider this mealtime shit normal? Why did we have to do it?
The second it was over I went back to my room, threw up again and hurriedly pulled on my trainers and headed to the hotel gym for an hour on the treadmill.
Client entertainment. Business Travel. Impossible to live cleanly.
I just want to be CLEAN.
The second I landed back at London City airport on Thursday evening I began to binge.

I was stressed. I was in my favourite black dress and heels. It was Mike's last day. He was going out with a few people from his department - no one from our side of the office got an invite.
I'd spent the whole of last night throwing up and drinking down laxatives knowing that I had to look good for the last time Mike saw me and had to look good for when I went out with Chris that evening.
Why? Why did I care about Chris?
He hadn't spoken to me yet all day. What if he'd changed his mind or forgotten?
I pinged him an email: "Space in your schedule for lunch?"
He walked past and nodded covertly. I gave a little nod to say I'd seen.
So we went for lunch together and sat by St Pauls. I had half a pot of soup. He questioned this but did not push it.
I came back to my desk worried. I had started to really become attracted to him now. I sent Rhianna a BBM:
"I shouldn't have gone for lunch with Chris... I think we flirt more than is good, and now I worry about my conduct tonight."
"It's his wit and charm - he is soooo nice - like you can tell - but his looks are ok - he is cute - he is skinny though - not your type!"
"I know - but I'm going to get drunk and do something silly. I get really up for it after a few."
She was right, Chris isn't my type - I'd said that numerous times. He's a good looking guy, charming, easy-going and straight-talking. He's fairly older than me, 30 at least, and would probably never be making a six figure salary. I loved flirting with him and I loved the attention he gave me. I loved that he was forward enough and confident enough to do that.

We left work after everyone else. I suppose it was good that no one saw us.
The City bar we were in was a hive of men in expensive suits. My eyes were wondering all evening and I had to keep forcing myself to keep my eyes in his direction. Despite this, it started to become clear after a few hours that it wasn't just friendship on the cards.
"Does Rhianna know you're here?"
He raised a surprised eyebrow. He clearly hadn't told anyone else - which made me feel conscious that this was a bigger deal than I'd anticipated. This was a date. This was him figuring out if there was potential for more.
I had been kidding myself that this was two mates having a drink, deep down I knew he must have been attracted to me. There's no such thing as harmless flirting - not to the extent that we had been. He asked me outright to go for drinks with him. I knew it wasn't innocent, I knew he didn't just want friendship, that was never the agenda, and I never behaved as if it was either. And yet, I'd walked into this situation telling myself that that I was going for drinks with the new guy for a bit fun.

We talked openly. I talked too much. He had me pegged. I felt sad. I feel sad. He's front office for a reason. He's charming and persuasive, a confidence trickster, a talker, and pusher, a passive aggressive.
I did everything to hold things back from him but he coerced it all out of me.
I told him about Mike and Sam, I told him I was an uncontrollable flirt, that I loved sex, that I was ashamed of my behaviour, that I wasn't a nice girl.
I told him why I only ate half a pot of soup all day.
"Looking at you from behind while you stood at the bar just now - I don't get it - you have an amazing body and incredible legs."
I sighed. "But you know that means nothing to me."
"I know," he replied. "My first impression of you when I met you was that you were really arrogant...But I kind of understood why you would be."
I raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"Well, you walked past the desk and I couldn't help but turn my head secretly to watch you. You had an amazing body and were arrogant about it, which was understandable and to be honest, I liked that, it was hot."
I felt slightly sick. I knew people had this impression of me and I hated it. People see me as a bitch, as a snob, as someone who thinks she is amazing, an untouchable princess who parades with her nose stuck up in the air. I know. But it's a barrier, it's a barrier. God dammit, I spent all evening bent over a toilet and all day pulling at myself in front of a mirror to walk across the room like that.

I would have needed to be a lot more drunk to get with Chis that evening. I liked him a lot, but I didn't want anything more. I am certain of that.
Nonetheless, I had led him on.
"I want to have sex in the office before I leave," he said. "Either at a desk or in the toilets. It would be easy, in the evening after everyone has gone."
I looked at him shocked. I knew why he was saying this to me. I'd told him I loved sex, I'd told him I loved the risk of getting caught. I'd listed him as one of the people in the office I'd sleep with.

"Ophelia...Maybe next time xx" he texted me as soon as we parted. I knew what he meant although I pretended I didn't. He hadn't asked me back to his, but he thought that's what I wanted and felt the need to reassure me. Next time.
I walked to find my night bus. Shit, shit, shit I murmered to myself. Shit. How was I going to get myself out of this.
"I think you are awesome." He sent minutes later.
Shit, shit, shit.
"Haha, I think you're sweet." I replied.
"That's the nicest thing you've said to me all evening!"
I felt guilty. He wasn't joking. He'd paid me compliments all evening and I'd given him nothing back. I hadn't said anything like 'I think you're hot', or 'I fancy you', or 'thanks I had a great evening, let's do it again'. I'd given him nothing.
Because I'm not a liar.
I didn't want this. I don't want more with him. I adore him - as a friend. And I shouldn't have been so desperate for attention that I led him on in the way I have.

He sent me a text the next morning:
"Fancy doing it again next week or weekend?"
I'm running a half marathon next Sunday so I was able to use that as an excuse. I told him I wasn't able to go drinking until afterwards. Hopefully in a week he will have forgotten about me...

I'm turning into something uncontrollable. I'm in a dangerous City where I'm finding a power I never had before or never knew how to use. This job has taught me how to perfect my front office game. I can get a guy to go out with me, I can twist my words, I can pitch, I can charm, I can perform my act, and I'm so addicted to ambition that I can't stop playing to win. I'm at risk of turning into a different kind of monster. A monster that uses men for her own needs, plays games that hurt others, walks across the room like a stuck-up bitch and means it.
"I'm ashamed of the person that I am. Nice girls aren't flirty, aren't sexual, aren't overtly confident," I had told Chris.
"There's nothing wrong with that," he replied.

But you know what, the one lesson I have learnt, blunt and irresponsible as this is to say, I do not lie on this blog, I show you all the good and terrible things about me, so here's the truth:
A woman derives so much power from her looks. I have an eating disorder because I have experienced how true this is. I will never let go of the importance of beauty or the power it brings.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The City Girl Made of Glass

I'm bringing the new blog back to this site... (if I can work out how...)
I've realised that what I'm writing isn't actually a new story, it's just an extension - my history is the shaping of my present and future, I cannot pretend to have forgotten it.

And I don't manage to merge the two blogs, here it is:

Part Two: A lawyer and the office cutie...brothers

See Part One here.

I sit down at my desk first thing on Wednesday morning to find an email waiting for me from Aiden, the City Lawyer.
I read it hurridly and smiled.
"Aw, so sweet...he's so sweet." This is the standard reaction I seem to have from every message he sends me. He's incredibly thoughtful and sincere, a textbook nice guy.

He had no reason to email me and I wasn't expecting to hear from him until he was back in the UK at the end of the month. His unsolicited email indicated that he'd been thinking about me.
His emails were getting more personal, he was talking about emotions, things he likes, experiences and dreams...
With every email he sent I began to recoil from him further. Of course in my replies I gave him just as much back, but I couldn't help thinking that he was giving too much to start with and being too keen. I would never have sent him emails like that - and I'm queen of keen.
The final nail in the coffin came with: "I'm quite looking forward to meeting up when I am back. It's refreshing to find somebody who is equally enthusiastic about the world as I am!"

I told you. It's The Game. It's the the thrill of the chase, it's the need to put myself under intense pressure to be incredible enough to get what I want. That's what made Aiden so exciting the first time I spoke to him, that's what made it something to look forward to. Without a battle, without a challenge... I lose interest. I don't want to be with a guy who worships me however average I am, I want to be with a guy who wants the best, and who wants me because I am the best. This is something that feeds into the second problem I began to have - the nice guy issue. So, you'd think that him sending long emails about lovely, sweet, thoughtful, personal things would make a girl think she'd hit the jackpot. With me... I'm thinking... yes, long-term material, the kind of guy you should be with... but I am just not finding it remotely attractive.

I have a craving - a constant craving - for intense feeling and emotion. If he can't give me drama and pain and euphoria and ecstasy all with dramatic intensity, I'll never feel anything for him. I don't just want to be content with life.

So I decided to take things back into my own hands again and find a new Game and new challenges to push myself.

Rhianna has been going through a tough time recently and was keen to go out on Friday to cheer herself up. As her closest friends at work, Rob and I and another guy called Adam had promised to go out to her favourite club, Koko. However, that Wednesday, Rob had told her that he and Adam weren't going - and made up a load of crap excuses which she saw right through.
Pissed off as I was at Rob for being his usual selfish self, I knew that I had to find other people to come out instead.
...The office cutie... obviously... I had to ask him and his equally office cutie friend.
I'd taken the plunge the other day to talk to the friend while we were in the kitchen, so the ice had been broken there... I just needed to ask both of them, and ask in a way that didn't sound like I was asking them on a date.

It was Thursday and nearing the 4pm time when they both left the office. As far as I could tell, they worked in the same department and were really close friends - I often saw them going for lunch together. For ages I had thought there was just one office cutie as they looked really similar and I had only begun to distinguish between the two of them in the last few weeks. I hadn't been able to find the balls to go and ask either of them at their desks so this was my last chance... I watched as I saw one of them get up to leave and made my move to the lifts. I would wait there and catch him as he left.
As I hovered by the lift area he came out...with his friend...both of them together - perfect... but they got in the lift with another person... I bottled it. I paced outside the lifts and then decided to take the next one. I was going to do this. This was my last chance. I was going to follow them and ask them.
As I got out the lift, through the glass doors I could see them standing outside the entrance together, obviously waiting for someone. I paced around the reception some more. Shit, shit, shit. There were still there.

I turned on my heels and strode out the building. Performance mode.

"Hey guys - "
They turned around.
"Hey, can I ask you guys a favour...what are you doing tomorrow night?"
They looked at each other awkwardly, "Errr.."
"Well, ok, my friend Rhianna has been having a pretty shit time recently and we're going out tomorrow to cheer her up but our other friend has dropped out so I need to find some other people to come along, so if you guys aren't doing anything it would be great if you could join us?!"
They looked at each other again. "Ok..." "Yeah, ok that's cool..." "Where are you going to?"
"Really! Awesome! Well she wants to go to Koko - is that cool?"
"Yeah, I'd probably have been going there anyway..."
"Oh amazing! ... So um, I know I've sorta met both of you in and around the kitchen as we're making our cups of tea... but I don't actually know your names?"
"Mike" - "Sam"
"Ok awesome - I'm Ophelia - so you're definitely up for it then, yes?"
"Yeah definitely," said Sam, "Just let us know the details..."
"Perfect, I'll send you over an email... have a good evening!"

And back on my heels I turned and strode back into the office, brimming over with hysterics.
"Guess what!" I gushed down the phone to Rhianna,
"They're coming!"
"Noooooo they're not! Seriously!"
She couldn't believe I'd had the balls to go and ask them. Honestly, neither could I...

Laxatives and two days of juice fasting. Up at 5am to try on dresses. I spent the whole of Friday in the office buzzing off adrenaline, unable to focus on anything but the night ahead.
By lunchtime, Rob and Adam had been guilt-tripped into coming.
This was fucking important - I didn't know why, I just knew it was fucking important that I looked my absolute best for Mike and Sam. Sure, I fancied both of them like hell, but I didn't really want anything from it other than for them to want me. That was the only thing I needed.

So straight after work I went back to Rhianna's and we got ready - by the time we left I was already drunk from too much wine on an empty stomach. Mike and Sam were already in Camden waiting for us,
Mike was perfect, relaxed and easy, fun and sweet.
Sam less so... more awkward, too sober, too serious.
Rhianna wasn't a fan: "Mike's seriously cute, but Sam is just weird, like stuck up almost."
Mike and Sam, it transpired, were brothers. I kicked myself for not making the link before - that was why they looked so similar. Another bombshell was that Mike was only 19 - he was just at the company on an internship and would be going back to uni in a few weeks. Although I have a history of going for younger men, I knew letting anything happen with him would be a mistake - as is the fact that I am attracted to brothers. (Awkward...)
I was drunk and probably behaved way too flirtateously with Mark. Simon left and went to meet up with two other girls. We went to find him. Then I practically forced them to come to Koko with us... and they came all the way up to the entrance only to stand me up. For whatever reason - the truth of which I will probably never know.
Rhianna: "Ophelia! Stop it! You're coming to Koko! They don't want you - they've got those two girls - they've both been checking you out all night - they're losers! Come on!"


I stood on the balcony with Adam, staring out over the lights. I had a sudden urge to climb on the railings and jump off, I saw my body lying in the street below, my huge arse in my blue lace underwear exposed to the world. The tears fell down my face and I didn't try and stop them - Adam had his arm around me - "What's up Ophelia? Hey, you didn't care about those guys did you?!"
"I just want someone to find me loveable, I just want someone... I judge my worth solely on what guys think of me - that's it - that's all the self worth I have... I just want someone to find me loveable. What's so wrong about me?"

The night ended up being a disaster. Adam and Rhianna were dirty dancing and then he ran off. Rob followed. Rhianna went mental and pulled me off the dancefloor in pursuit. She caught hold of Rob and yelled at him.
"You fucking left us! - You were just going to fucking run off, follow Adam and fucking leave us!"
I was silent. I had to stand by Rhianna on this but I wasn't going to join in the argument. I just held her hand and stood by her side.
We went back out on to the balcony again. They continued arguing.
"I don't need two fucking crazy girls to deal with. I've got Ophelia already - fucking crazy - I'll deal with her later."
... It's ok when I call myself crazy, it's not ok when someone else does.
As I stood over the balcony again he lifted up my dress.
"What the fuck!" I screamed,
"I was just giving you attention - making you feel loved!"
I should have slapped him. I should have smacked him to the ground and screamed at him.
I just turned my back on him and continued staring out at the black sky.
My eyes welled up again. Giving me attention - making me feel loved. It's true, I embarassed myself, I debased myself, I made myself nothing but a sexual being for men to lust over, I had no further self-worth than that. I poured all my energy into that, I held that out as my bait. What did Aiden like about me? He liked me for the words he read in his emails, the things I told him about my life and my ambitions, the person he saw in the heart and mind of my words... and I couldn't like him for that.

Finally Rob left us alone.
"You should never have told him about your eating," Rhianna said, "I know you thought you could trust him - so did I - but he's a cock, he's an areshole."
We stood talking for ages, her crying about her pain, me crying about mine.
"I'm sorry," I said, "I just really wanted you to come out and have a good time tonight and be able to forget about everything and look at what a disaster it's been."

I put her in a taxi and found myself a night bus to sit on for an hour.

I did all this drama while I was at university. This wasn't the life I wanted now at 24 - why was I still doing it? Why was I so driven by the need for chaos and crazy behaviour? Why was the idea of settling with Aiden, older and mature, smart and kind, safe and grounded - why was that such a terrible idea to imagine?

I don't know how things will be with Mike and Sam on Monday morning. I don't know how things will be with Rob.
I don't know who I am, I don't know why I can't stop the desperate acting, the desperate drama. I made myself look like a fool infront of Mike and Sam, a drunk and desperate flirt.
I want to stop this behaviour - but I can't - because I need it, I still need male attention - it's the only form of love I know.

I'm in the kind of mood where I don't want to sleep. I want to write and write. I want to read Plath and Lessing. I want to bleed my heart onto paper. The City has made me forget so much of myself, so much of my heart and head full of beauty.

Monday, 5 September 2011

The new girl is a smoke show

07:30 on a Monday morning in The Square Mile.
A girl wanders up and down the isles of a food store,
nothing I can eat, nothing I can eat, as she wrings her hands, flustered, getting in the way of impatient men in suits

I managed in the end. Three packets of microwave-in-the-bag mixed vegetables, three mini packets of cooked chicken breast and one packet of plain mixed nuts.
I've decided I'm allowed plain nuts now after reading a few Paleo blogs - which also means fruit is back in the diet - hurray! (The Dukan Diet which I followed strictly a few months back was utterly depressing in it's lack of fruit).

So, for all those who are interested here is the new plan of what Ophelia is eating and keeping down happily:
All vegetables (except beans)
All fruit (except dried fruits)
Plain nuts and seeds (not peanuts)
Fish and Seafood
Skimmed milk
- A diet which is my own personal hybrid of Paleo and Dukan, which is restrictive enough to have the right effects, but lenient enough to be easy to stick to.

At 10:00 Rhianna sent me a BBM across the office: "The new girl is a smoke show."
And indeed she was. 110 lbs, straight blond hair, tanned, sleek black suit and a a string of white pearls to match her string of white teeth.
It seems silly writing it now, but at the time I felt all my confidence come crashing down around me. I sat at my desk in agony.
It became very clear all of a sudden: It wasn’t a question of if I’d crumble and have a breakdown, it was a question of when. A new, stunning girl walks onto the office floor and suddenly I’m on the verge of a tearful hysterics, feeling like a disgusting piece of whore.
What the fuck?
What an insanely insecure, irrational meltdown.
And that just summed it up: it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. I am going to breakdown at some point, I’m still Ophelia, I’m still fucked-up. Something is going to go wrong one day and I won’t be able to handle it....

For the time being though, this crisis situation was manageable. As she was joining Rhianna’s desk, she invited her along for lunch. I of course was only too eager to learn more about my new threat. And that’s when I finally got my brains back into my aching skull. She was 28, old compared to me, her skin wasn’t just tanned but aged- too much sun, not enough protection – her features were pretty but normal, her lips too big, her face made-up. She was nothing like me with my long dark hair, big brown eyes and fair skin, not to mention the difference in personality. As my manager would say: in a similar market but not a direct competitor. What made me beautiful and amazing were qualities completely different to her – you couldn’t compare us, we were different breeds of women.
There will be guys in the office who fancy her over me, and that’s fine, because I don’t want to be like her. I like the market I’m in – niche and slightly exotic. Men either like it or they don’t.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Blunt conversations over lunch

"Do you hate Harry?" asked Rob,
"Well, I just thought... you just said you hated men, that Harry might be one... because you haven't seen him since..."
"I don't know the guy. How can I hate him." I retorted aggressively.
"Ok, ok" he said, surrendering,
"I only have myself to blame for everything with Harry. I only have myself to blame."

We were sitting on the top of One New Change again eating our salads. I was angry. Talking about relationships always made me angry. I hate men, it's true, I hate them, I hate them for the power they have over me, the desire that I can't control, the need that I have for them. I hate men. I hate all the men that I have starved for, thrown up for, taken laxatives for, exercised for, wasted my money for and wasted my precious time on. I hate them all for leaving me with nothing but a sick, empty, worthless feeling in the pit of my rotten stomach. All the men that I have never meant anything to except a kiss or a shag. Fuck them all.

Rob's words confirmed that Harry was over. The door that closed behind me on that Saturday morning was never to open up for me again. I knew it, but I still wanted to hope, wanted to believe, that maybe, maybe someone found me loveable.

I was in an appalling mood for the rest of the day. The mirrors were my worst enemy. I stood in the toilets repeatedly staring at my puffy face. There was nothing I could do.
There was nothing I could do.

"He's an investment banker," Rob had said, "He can have anyone he wants."

I wanted to rip my body to shreds.

What a shit week.
No days spent in the gym, lots of bingeing and lots of throwing up followed of course by bingeing.
No pencil skirts this week.
My body has been clogged up, my tummy swollen beyond disguise. Filthy. Disgusting.

Yesterday I told Rob and Rhianna the truth. I'd already told them a few weeks back that I "used to have a severe eating disorder". It started when Rhianna began to push me to come out after work:
"Come on... just one drink!"
"No, I'm really not in the mood, I feel like shit, look like shit and have had a shit week."
"Aww really?"
"I've not felt this bad in a long time. A long time." I said grimly.
"Why - because of me?" added Rob,
"Because of a lot of things."

Yeah, Rob had been an arsehole, he'd been an arsehole for weeks, mocking me for eating only soup at lunch, mocking me about Harry, objectifying every woman that walked past, talking about them as if they were pieces of meat, calling them names if they were anything less than stunning. I'd had the final straw the day before. Not only did I have to endure lunch at a gourmet burger restaurant while he made crass comments about the waitresses, he ended the lunch break with a stupid joke about Harry not calling me. I sat at my desk raging, wanting to pick up the nearest heavy item and hurl it at the wall. I was so mad. I wanted to scream abuse at him.
Men like him were the reason I felt all this pain.
This was a stupid friendship. Spending time with him was not going to help me become the strong, confident, happy woman I want to be.

Rhianna knew, and as she quizzed me about my problems, I found no need to lie.
"It's good that you can be so open about it", she said.
"Well, you know what? The reason why eating disorders are such a secretive illness, the reason why so many people never get help, the reason why there's so much shame affiliated with them is because people don't talk about it. It's such a taboo subject, it's something to be ashamed of. Well I'm not ashamed. Why should I be."
Rob was silent, head down and staring at his shoes. I'd never seen him with nothing to say. I should have felt bad for making him feel uncomfortable but I wasn't at all. I was being so brazen and blunt about my eating disorder because I had had to put up with his constant insensitive 'joking' about my obsession with healthy eating and my weight. Yesterday had been the final straw and I was so angry with him for being the creature misogynist he is. There is a lot about Rob that I hate. A filthy, male creature - and as his best friend, Harry was obviously going to have been the same.
Rhianna talked about her friend back home who was still suffering, I understood all she told me.
"You can tell," she said, "when they're throwing up, their face swells."
I smiled. "Like mine."
"You still do it?"
"I throw up every day."

I explained to them that I don't believe I'll ever fully recover.
"My eating disorder is like many illnesses, like asthma for example, you can't get rid of it, you just have to learn how to control it so that it doesn't take over and destroy your life. I have no intention of giving it up. It's a way of life, it's normal for me, I have no idea how to live without an eating disorder, I can't remember what it's like.
But honestly, this is the happiest I've been in years."

"Your BBM picture", said Rhianna, "that's when you were really thin?"
I nodded.