I stopped drinking when I was 32 and weighed about 91 lbs (41 kg); a dangerously low weight. I began to put on weight but my body looked odd to me. I couldn’t see my bones quite as well and my ribs were beginning to be covered up. This was distressing as all my life I defined myself by my weight and though I was beginning to find another self I was also losing myself.
I went to go to AA and I met Andrew. We began to date and at his instigation we split up several times before he decided that we could make a go of things. I took this as a compliment but I found out later that it was typical behaviour of someone who was emotionally abusive. I was made to feel lucky that I had been chosen.
Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder I was taking lithium and weight gain is one of the side effects of it. Again, I felt as those my sense of self was disappearing and there was a person that I didn’t recognise taking her place.
Andrew decided that even though I was a size 12 by then I was dangerously thin and became a feeder. A feeder is someone who encourages someone to eat much more than is good for them and unhealthy things to boot. I would often find myself eating three bars of chocolate and being applauded by him because he though I should be a big woman not the slim person I wanted to be. He told me that he loved big women but stopped having sex with me because my size made me unattractive.
In the photo above is the woman that I became. Note the possessive way he is holding on to me and my clenched fist. I’m leaning into him because he had made me dependent upon him. I was also tired of and angry with him because I felt as though I couldn’t get away.
I rang him on New Years Eve 2007 and told him that I need some time alone to recharge my batteries. Six weeks later I wrote him to tell him he would never see me again.
I have lost weight now I am slightly overweight but not drastically so. I yearn to be a size 10 but I have accepted that it is not a healthy and that as long as I keep fit being a little overweight isn’t a bad thing.
The first thing that I did when I escaped him (and thankfully we had never lived together) was buy a camera as that was many of the things he let me know I was useless at. Six weeks after buying the camera I sold a photo to a travel magazine and the University of York used one of my photos to illustrate a book about stained glass. I am a good photographer and I am a free, if slightly fat, person.