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To blame my parents for my eating disorder

(113 Posts)
ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 10:09:33

I have namechanged because I am going to be referring to me, here. I suffer from an eating disorder. I have done so for over twenty years and I am still trying to crack it. It started off as anorexia, although never got "serious" there was a point where I got very thin as a result of seriously restricting what I ate. At any rate, I've maintained a normal-ish weight, sometimes on the heavy side of normal and sometimes not, but the point is I suppose no one would look at me in the street and conclude I have an ED, whether anorexia or compulsive eating.

Actually every day is awful. I can't eat like a "normal" person at all: I binge eat and gain weight and after a bit restrict to near starvation, then after s bit can't stand that, cycle repeats itself.

I've already had to have a serious conversation with one of my children to try to explain why I do it and that they are gorgeous and beautiful and must NOT follow my example. But I do think mine was made not born if you like. In other words if I'd been brought up in another family I would have been all right.

Food was always an issue and to be fair my parents did the right things with me as a fussy eater and my dad grew his own vegetables and sometimes we would go on holiday with families with older children who would try to encourage me to eat things like melon and oranges and French bread which I just found hard to chew. But sometimes they would lose it a bit and I had to do the "clear your plate" thing (I remember stuffing food in my sock to flush down the toilet) and one time they forced a tomato into me and I was sick. I still don't eat tomatoes!

My mum was terrified of me getting fat and she used to get really angry/upset if I had a friend who was thinner than me. I think it kicked off when I started at secondary school, although I remember a few isolated incidents before that where she would either call me fat or allude to it. I looked a normal size on my year 7 school photograph but that year I won an award for playing the piano and appeared in the local paper with some other girls who were playing other instruments. The photographer positioned us standing in a diagonal row if that makes sense and I was at the front and looked bigger than the others. In my mind I looked huge but it was the angle of the photograph as we'd all been 'stretched' if you see what I mean and I also looked taller and generally more strapping than the other girls and I wasn't.

Both my parents acted like I'd come home with drugs, and my dad made me name all the other girls and then I had to repeat after him, "I am fatter than Katie. I am fatter than poppy."

I couldn't do anything growing up without my weight coming into it. If I did something good it didn't matter because I was fat. If I did something bad, I would be insulted for it alongside 'fat.' I remember dropping and smashing a plate once (not on purpose!) and my mum looked at me with contempt and said 'you stupid fat bitch' as if being fat made me drop a plate somehow? The weird thing was I wasn't fat, really. I was a little bit plump about when I was 13, I think. Looking back at old photos I had a bit of a protruding tummy and my face looks a bit heavy but nothing remarkable.

It's hard to know what to say! I was never allowed to snack. So whenever I was in the house alone I would binge eat on loads of cereal and toast. I grew when I was fourteen a bit after years of being smaller than everyone else and I definitely look a perfectly normal size on those pictures. My brother was 3 years older than me, and he'd started going to a gym and started taking me with him and I discovered I liked it.

My mum was so odd with me about my appearance and weight though. I think she was proud of my looks, although I'm honestly nothing special at all. Just an averagely prettyish sort of person. But them constantly going on about how fat I was, I don't know. I think it really fucked up my whole relationship with food in a way. We had a lot of long holidays and I couldn't get away from her especially in the car driving to France or Spain, she'd go on and on and on about my brothers faults and mine.

She died when I was 15 (she was an alcoholic although I didn't know it at the time)

I still don't really know what a 'normal' diet is, still binge eat, and then starve.

M00nUnit Sun 28-May-17 10:18:13

You poor thing! I'm no expert but I have no doubt that your problems with eating have been caused by your parents. Your dad making you do the "I am fatter than..." was particularly cruel. So YANBU at a to blame your parents. I think therapy could help you with this. Possibly CBT? You're doing really well to have maintained a "normal-ish" weight but you're clearly very unhappy and your health will suffer if you carry on this way so do speak to your GP.

Gingernaut Sun 28-May-17 10:24:57

You don't say how old you are.

Yes, it sounds lile you had a dysfunctional childhood with a mother who had problems of her own and was trying to show the world she and her family were perfect.

I had a mentally ill mother who also was hypercritical and today, might be diagnosed as bipolar or manic depressive. I am losing weight after spending the majority of my childhood overweight and outright obese.

I have been through counselling. CBT, High Intensity CBT, group and more. It's hard, but at some stage you've got to stop blaming your parents and take responsibility for yourself amd your eating habits.

You are an adult now. Your parents aren't to blame for what you're doing to yourself now.

You know your eating is dysfunctional. What help have you sought for it?

Gingernaut Sun 28-May-17 10:26:39

I'm 49, btw.

It's hard, but trying to change the patterns you've lived your life by all this time is going to be rough going.

pandarific Sun 28-May-17 10:27:55

Bastards. flowers for you op. One thing to perhaps unpick in your mind is that if your mum was an alcoholic, she must have been acting out some fairly complex issues of her own, and probably using you and your brother as props. What I mean by this is that it was not you, it was her, she was putting all this stuff on you. Was your dad an alcholic too?

How is your brother? Has he been effected by the abuse? Have you ever talked to him about your food issues?

Gingernaut Sun 28-May-17 10:32:30

Your brother's 'gym thing' sounds like both an escape mechanism and a symptom.

As pandarific says, how is he these days?

ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 10:41:38

Dead, killed himself 5 years ago. I haven't bothered seeking help. There is no help! Anyway I I do actually try not to blame my parents I feel bad as they did try but unfortunately I am odd about food and I think this stemmed from them.

Woolly17 Sun 28-May-17 10:45:48

YANBU - it sounds like a very difficult childhood.

Have you contemplated therapy? It can be very helpful and might help you resolve some of your feelings around this. I've personally found talking about it this with an external and unbiased person useful. Perhaps you can talk to your GP about it in the first instance?

I'm the third generation (that I'm aware of) in my family with disordered eating. I've been borderline underweight all my life and my mother would still worry about us all getting fat (her, me and my sis). I'm currently 8months pregnant and she's worried about how chubby I am (I'm not worried btw).

On the flip side I was so skinny growing up that the GP's and school constantly badgered her about getting me to eat more - this made her behaviour very inconsistent (eat more but in a controlled way and don't get fat ... confusing for a child to say the least) and my attitude to food very stressed.

I can't blame her for how she is any more than I can blame myself for how I am, because her mother had issues too. I wish she'd been able to do things differently sometimes but I'm currently much more motivated to give my child a better start in life. I don't want my child to grow up all tied in knots about BMI and what's good and bad food.

Gingernaut Sun 28-May-17 10:45:58

Your eating patterns and attitude to food and exercise stem from your childhood. Of course they do, that actually sounds pretty stupid

Your eating disorder may well be a symptom of how you deal with your emotions. I am an emotional binge eater, for example.

You need counselling.

ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 10:46:52

Thanks, that sounds hard. I've tried counselling but it wasn't really for me. I don't feel it's the cure all it's made out to be.

SeekingSugar Sun 28-May-17 10:47:38

You can definitely blame them but unfortunately this will not help you. It's happened and life goes on. You do hand the opportunity now to be different though of course it is in no way easy.

Would you consider getting professional help? You certainly had a crazy childhood!

ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 10:47:47

Unfortunate cross post but ginger, to reiterate, counselling really isn't the cure all for every mental health problem known to mankind, in fact it 'cures' very few of them.

SeekingSugar Sun 28-May-17 10:48:44

It doesn't have to be counselling, you would do well to start with a highly recommended psychiatrist. You'd be amazed by how good they can be.

ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 10:48:46

I don't know that it was crazy. It was in some ways but in others it was very privileged. Big house, private school, loads of holidays, day trips to Alton towers and the like. Parents didn't hold back financially.

ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 10:48:55

Same difference sugar

steppedonlego Sun 28-May-17 10:50:00

Op, I sympathise, my parents were the same, obsessive about my weight. I remember my dad standing me in front of a mirror and saying "look at you, you're like the opposite of an anorexic, they're thin and pretty and think they're fat and ugly, and you're fat and ugly and think you're thin and pretty."

That's stayed with me for most of my life.

ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 10:50:35

I'm not surprised steppedon

My mum once said to me "I wish you were anorexic!" confused

FathomsDeepAndFallingFurther Sun 28-May-17 10:51:07

Have you considered Overeaters Anonymous? The are a self help group run along the same lines as Alcoholics Anonymous and will help anyone with disordered eating.

fannydaggerz Sun 28-May-17 10:52:02

I'm so sorry to hear you went through this OP. Your parents shouldn't have done that to you.

ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 10:53:00

It's religious though Fathoms It has to come from me anyway. Which is why all the help is pointless.

TheRealPooTroll Sun 28-May-17 10:56:01

I think you're right. Being denied food so bingeing when you could then being made to feel bad about your weight has forced you into a cycle of overeating and starving yourself.
You mum, at least, seems to have had problems of her own. That's not an excuse for her abusing you but probably the reason she didn't nurture you as a parent should.
The good news is that we now know that the brain is capable of rewiring throughout life and with support you can break the cycle you are now in.

FathomsDeepAndFallingFurther Sun 28-May-17 10:59:15

Well, they do go on about a higher power and all that but you don't have to be religious to participate. Some people use the group as their higher power.

It does have to come from you though. Do you want to stop?

NotTheDuchessOfCambridge Sun 28-May-17 11:01:39

Are you angry OP? With your childhood I mean?

ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 11:01:54

I do want to stop, I think. but that's the point, I clearly don't as otherwise I wouldn't keep doing it so on some level I obviously don't. But I do? hmm

ifyouhaveto Sun 28-May-17 11:02:14

No, Duchess, it all just feels remote like it happened to somebody else.

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