Emma: It’s breakfast time. Am I hungry? Should I have something to eat? Breakfast is a normal thing to have. Do I need it? If I do have something to eat what should I have? Toast or porridge? Which is better? If I have toast then how much? If I have toast then I’ll have jam or Flora on it too. What about the fat and sugar? How do I calculate those calories? Or maybe I should have porridge. But if I have porridge should I put some chopped apple in? I like that but I don’t need it. What do I feel like eating? I don’t know. Do I feel hungry? I don’t know. I can feel something in my tummy but is that hunger or greed? Should I feel hungry now? If I’m not hungry and I eat breakfast then what does that make me; greedy, weak, fat?
Makes toast and a cup of tea.
Emma: I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m not sure I want it.
Takes a bite.
Emma: I love Marmite on toast! But what’s it doing to me?
Ana: You’ve given in again. Why are you eating this when I told you that you don’t need it?! Getting pleasure from eating is weak and only leads to bad things. You’ll get fat, and weak and disgusting. Remember how it used to be, remember how strong you felt with those pangs of hunger in your tummy. You were stronger than everyone else because you felt them but didn’t give in to them. That was good! You’ve been giving in this week so much but no more. I want to test your strength. I know you can do it. You deserve to be punished for what you’ve done. You should bake your fruit cake. I know you love the moist, brandy infused fruit and the warming taste of cinnamon and mixed spice. I was there when you ate it last week. You enjoyed it. That’s not the way. That food is dirty and dead. It does nothing but infect your body with fat and sugar. See how your face is ballooning, see how your stomach is swelling, even your wrists, your fingers, your feet. Fat is getting everywhere and all because you listened to other people instead of me. They want to you to be vulnerable. They want you to be like them, they don’t want to see you exhibiting the willpower they can never have. So you’ll bake the cake but you won’t eat a single crumb. You may want it but you don’t need it. I promise you that if you don’t eat the cake, I’ll make you happier than food could ever make you. I’ll make your body look beautifully lean again. Your arms will be slim, the contour of your shoulders will be sleek. That’s what you want. That will make you happy again. Being strong makes you happy. You don’t need to eat those things. They won’t make you happy. You have nothing without me. You are nothing without me but weak, fallible.
Emma: But what about these words: ‘I can promise that while you might have been lighter in February, you didn’t look healthy. The pleasure from food isn’t one to run from. Your body needs food. If you give Ana these wins, you’re getting her one step closer to her ultimate goal – to take you away from everyone who loves you. She will kill you. Food is your ammunition and you need to fight with everything you’ve got.’ I think there’s truth in these words. Remember February, Em. Remember how your eyes had no life, remember catching the reflection of yourself in the mirror and seeing the shape of the Scream mask. Remember how you shivered with cold all the time. You haven’t had a bath for 10 months because you can’t get comfortable on the hard surface. You haven’t had a meal out with the girls, or spent a full weekend with them for months. You used to love your weekends with the girls, long lunches with a bottle of wine then getting glammed up and going out for a late dinner and drinks. You loved walking down the street with them. Remember how proud you felt to be part of that three-strong friendship group. Now when you look at them all you see is two wonderful, beautiful shining stars who don’t deserve to be dragged down by your presence. They’re everything you want to be. They’re happy, they have loving partners, they’re building lives you dreamed of having. Do I deserve to have that? Is it even possible for me to have that? I don’t think it’s meant for me. I believe those things happen to other people. I’ve learnt that. I’ve learnt that they’re the good ones, they deserve the love of someone else. I’m the one who fails, makes poor judgments. People have shown that I don’t matter to them, they saw me as nothing more than a pawn in their game; disposable and unimportant. So it’s best that I don’t get involved, that I stay on the periphery where it’s safe.
But then I re-read those words above.
In chess a pawn can be promoted to any other piece of its player’s choosing if it reaches the opponent’s side of the board.
I was never a victim. I never let myself be walked over. I always found a way to play to my voice, to do what was good for me and what I knew to be true.
I’m getting angry; really, really angry.
Why am I letting the effects of those two people ruin me? Why am I allowing Ana to beat me down? Why do I believe that I don’t deserve to have the things I dreamed of having as a little girl? Why don’t I deserve to be happy? Why do I believe that I am not enough, not good enough?
If I walk back into Ana’s arms, I will never find the answers to those questions. I will only continue to believe their mantra.
‘Permission is the paradox that gives control.’ By allowing myself to be free, to be forgiven, to be myself, to accept myself, to like myself, to be proud of myself, I regain control. I am allowing Ana to control me now. All I need to do is allow myself to control me.
I’m so very very tired. I’m so fed up of so much of my time being consumed by the endless circles of discussion going on in my head. The constant questions, fears, arguments, tears.
But I have always worked hard to get the things I want. This is another thing I have to work hard at. This is undoubtedly the biggest challenge and the stakes have never been higher. But could there really be a better goal to work towards than a happy life?