I love this picture and am seriously contemplating having it as a tattoo, the script, not the scene building etc but that would be pretty cool thinking about it now!
I’m a bit out of sorts lately, can’t remember if I’ve said this before or simply meant to, my memory is shocking, to be honest it has been since I had my first child 27 years ago. I could look back at previous blogs to check but where’s the fun in that? The same people don’t usually read my stuff anyway so who’d know? Certainly not me, because of the memory loss thing aha.. Seriously though, it worried me enough to see my GP about it having been meaning to bring it up on previous visits but forgetting, no joke! She tells me it’s a symptom of peri-menopause and did I want some blood tests to prove it? I’m thinking no I’m 47, of course everything is winding down. For Neolithic man I’d be over double the average life expectancy. Pretty damn old for a Tudor too.
The idiotic things I’ve put my body through sometimes I seriously marvel I lived to see 47. For as long as I can remember I believed I was fat. I’ve said before I blame the ‘feel the burn’ Jane Fonda generation for my mother and her friends obsession with diets and dieting. That and the ever-changing fashion of the ideal female (and more recently male) body type.
I should point out some of the time I was plump, from the age of about 11 when puberty struck. I started my periods at about 10, which was a shock but my mother coped admirably with it considering she hadn’t even contemplated their arrival for a few years yet and as such was completely unprepared; I was being looked after by her friend the night it happened so by the time I told anyone it was a Sunday morning. The UK still had strict laws about opening hours and she had to drive 10 miles to find the nearest chemist that opened on Sunday to dispense prescriptions.
From then to about the age of 19 when I got pregnant with C I had a good amount of chub going on. The fact my best friends were tall and lean while I was 5′ 2″ and stocky all played in to the insecurity!
Kate Moss, Jodie Kid and the like, grey eyed and willowy all be it fainting from hunger! Coin the phrase ‘heroin chic’ and you have a generation of anorexic girls who don’t have the discipline to diet or the self-control to starve but they heard all about heroin. Olivia Channon, an MP’s daughter overdosed at Oxford, (my home town.) The information was there in the hind brain, if such a thing exists, your subconscious knows, “heroin makes you thin!”
Fast forward past some trauma, a few lecherous interactions with a middle-aged family friend who should’ve known better than to grope the budding breasts and crotch of a fatherless girl who loved and looked up to him. Rejections from boys who didn’t know how to take a filter-less blunt (these days probably considered mildly autistic) oddly attractive, (but plump so you couldn’t admit it to your friends) girl. The memory still lingers. The Cambridge liquid food diet worked for a bit but weight rebounded. Only cereal and toast, worked for a bit. You name it as long as that sweet taste was still on the menu. Weight was armor from men who’d abuse but paradoxically fat was the worst possible thing you could be. Everything in life would be fine if I could stop biting my nails, be thin, get a tan (picture the skin of a red-head on a mousey pale eyed girl) and just have friends to laugh with.
After I had C I wasn’t fat, size 10 (US 6) probably but that perception of myself remained. I felt big, even at my biggest I was probably only a size 14 (US 10) although not gargantuan at 5′ 2″ it was larger than Kate Moss and I was muscular, although in fashion now in the 80’s and 90’s I wasn’t fitting in to a box anyone wanted.
I remember C’s father buying me some clothes in a size 10 and the genuine surprise and confusion I felt when they were loose. Even then I couldn’t believe I was slim.
When we were first together one of his other conquests had said “you’re leaving me for that fat blonde?” I was on the bigger end of my personal spectrum then but he was daft enough to repeat it! And as I said reality never really caught up after I had C, this was just another confirmation of my obesity, in truth I probably only got thinner life was fairly toxic and chronic stress does that to a person.
G was, um…shall we say generous with himself! Something I’m not the least bit bitter about now, he’s been dead for the past 10 years, for the 13 before that we were not together we’d only been back in touch for about 3 years before his death. At the time we’d become good friends again without that weird sexual tension you can have with someone you find intellectually compelling but with whom that chapter is long finished. He collected women. He wasn’t particularly attractive physically, he’d lost an eye in an incident as a child, which he was terribly insecure about but had an air of such confidence he could make anyone believe in him, I often thought he should’ve become a politician and not a drug dealer.
At 20 I found it so torturous it was physically painful. The fact I wasn’t enough nearly broke me. My parents had waited until they were married, my mother because she was and is a committed Christian and my father because he had an irrational fear of venereal disease. So I thought he was being cruel. Later having lived a longer less sheltered existence I understood it wasn’t about me at all, it was all about him. We talked about it once; his harem after the pain of living through it was a memory; he found people interesting, enjoyed sex but it wasn’t about the physicality. He said when he’d got them he didn’t want to hurt them and didn’t know how to leave without doing it so he just kept them around until they got bored and drifted off. I believe it, at that point he had no cause to lie about it. But the feelings I had about it from 18 – 24 while we were together made me question what was wrong with me and it always came back to my weight.
Although Olivia Channon had died at university in Oxford about 5 years before. Heroin wasn’t common place in the town then. People smoked solid and grew their own weed without the benefit of hydroponics and heavy cross-pollination of today super skunk which has reduced the protective element of cbd and increased the psychoactive thc to levels that are so seriously damaging brains. Lsd was prevalent, Ecstasy although common was a comparatively recent phenomenon of the previous decade or so. Free parties were still taboo often run by new age travelers, not to be confused with gypsy travelers or traveling show men. These were the evolution of hippies, bored youths in their gap year or private school kids in their droves who wanted to experience off grid living. They and the revelers vilified and heavily Policed. At this point if heroin was found on the traveler site’s the other travelers would club together and run them off. But it was coming!
A friend of G’s had encountered it. He was already smoking if not already injecting but I was blissfully unaware. They would go to London to get it, he was in and out of the shared house I lived in with my daughter, I didn’t question his activities if I did, he had so many other places to go and we didn’t see him at all.
One day he turned up with a bag of it, and asked me to keep it for him, I did, it was idiocy because he obviously intended to sell it, he thought it was something I’d encountered before I’d never told him I hadn’t wanting to appear worldly. I smoked a joint with him and was sick for hours. I didn’t try it again for years.
Sadly G had a taste for it I’m unsure if he was already using heavily at this point or if it was recreational my poor memory coupled with his secrecy and time passed is such I don’t remember the timeline but a family tragedy I don’t feel it’s my right to go into left his son disabled. Heroin was his crutch. I spent a good deal of my time in the hospital with the mother of his son who was a friend and before I knew what was happening he was an addict and dealing to fund it, he’d previously dealt in solid cannabis and acid so it was just progression, although before this, it had never been from our home.
Looking back it’s not even like a memory but so distant it’s almost like a film I watched or a book I read.
I can honestly not tell you why I ended up joining him. A culmination of many things, the desperate existence we were living, the fact he took all my money to fund his habit. I lost my job at a solicitors because he would show up randomly, looming. L his older daughter ran away one day with the pressure of living at hospital and trying to go to school from there, she was about 8, so I walked out of work to meet her knowing she would only be walking to our house. She was going through so much with her brother ill. I was very unreliable from a work perspective although not using drugs at that point and that was the final nail in the coffin.
After the funeral of the woman who had been another mother to me I dabbled again. I just wanted it to stop for a moment, the pain. Again I was very sick. I didn’t do it again for a long time. It’s a wonder I persisted at all because of the nausea. In some sick way (no pun intended) it was a connection to the man I thought I loved with my whole soul in the way you do with your first adult obsession.. And there, in the back of my mind, heroin keeps you thin!
Fast forward some years, I was way past love, even past the hatred and resentment I’d felt for him, now I felt nothing. I only used enough to stop any physical symptoms and stay thin. My daughter was 4, we’d lost our home due to the shenanigans and were living in a flat. He’d gone back to the mother of his other children because “their need was greater than mine” now L was finally back home from the hospital and head injury trust. Of course the area was better for his dealing now our house was no longer available too! I was still his but he was unkind. I went to my mother’s in Wales painfully thin and bruised and could no longer deny what was happening. When I got back my friend came to find me. She had moved to Reading the previous year. I really believe God sent her and I ran away with her, leaving everything but C’s possessions. J had 2 children of her own and only a 3 bedroom house, so I slept in her living room C shared a room with her daughter. I span him some line about him coming when we were settled but I was never under any illusion I was running away.
Foolishly I thought I’d be able to find a Dr to prescribe me methadone, there are many other drugs available to opiate addicts now but then methadone was the only real solution. Boy was I wrong. Before a doctor could take anyone or prescribe anything they needed to be refered by one of the drug support agencies. Funding was limited, waiting lists were looong, appointments were like Willy Wonker’s Golden tickets!
I have never known such illness, J my friend did everything for C at this point, I will never forget her kindness, it is not the only time she has come to my rescue but that it a story for another time or this blog will become a book haha. One time I caved, a friend drove miles from Oxford to Reading to deliver me something but in the end I had to go thorough it if not for myself then for C. It took about 3 weeks to get back on my feet by then I was tremendously weak from the lack of food and vomiting. I remember walking to the shops only about a mile and a half but I had to get a taxi back.
I’d like to say my struggle with addiction and body dysmorphia ended there but they didn’t. The chapter of G and Oxford was over. I don’t regret any of it other than the hurt it caused others. Life is a lesson that shapes the person you become, sometimes the same thing needs repeating over and over until it’s fully appreciated, you missed the point or there were many things to gain from it. Experiences, however painful help you to grow, if you can use those experiences to help others, I believe you should because then the pain and discomfort weren’t for nothing.
Have a good day