My biggest prompt for this post is (drum rolls)
I AM SO A GRADUATE WITH A BACHELOR OF ARTS WITH HONOURS (in the arts and humanities)
I haven’t had my graduation ceremony yet and with all that has happened this year, I totally forgot that I have finally finished my degree. My other half was going ballistic (in a good way) and looked at me and asked me why I looked so down. I guess either I am still in shock or I don’t think it is that big a deal compared to what other goals and shit I have had to focus on this year. So let me high 5 myself and reflect on how the path to get my degree became – the successful one.
Way back in 2007 I had just come out of hospital with a BMI of 16. I enrolled at my local college in the U.K. to do my BA in acting performance. I was with a lovely group of talented individuals and managed to last one term. I was quickly losing more weight again and my mental health went down. I could not maintain a low BMI. I either had to go lower or higher and I went lower. I managed to get a merit (when they still called it that) for my classical acting. How amazing is that? I wanted to engage with my group but I couldn’t shift the anorexia. I had become a sub host to it.
Back in 2008 I decided to have another go at it. I had gained a normal amount of weight. I met a seemingly lovely man who swept me off my feet. He worked in the army and ended up going on tour for 3 months in Canada. I went to live in Barcelona with my Aunt for a few months and partied hard. Hit Ibiza with my cuz and when I came back to the U.K I was ready to piece my life back together. The night I arrived back in the U.K. was the same night the army guy got back and he came straight to see me, bringing me little gifts back from his tour. I was so touched and couldn’t believe we had another chance to get to know this one another again and give him my heart. I invited him for a meal at my Nan’s house the following evening as he was rather ‘fatigued'(such an elegant way of putting it) from his flight. The following day he texted me to tell me he was getting his car serviced and would see me later. Later turned into 6pm And 8pm and then 9pm. The curry was losing it’s cool. I rang him asking him why he hadn’t pitched up and he completely dissed me on the phone and told me he was with his family and I can’t make him choose his family over me! WHAT THE FUCK? If he had explained that he wanted to be with his family then I would of got it.-The lovely army guy broke my heart. He didn’t want to be with me. I internalised all this as my fault. I had put on weight, I had been homeless and had recently found somewhere in the U.K. to live and I thought I wasn’t good enough. I remember walking my Nan from my new home to the bus stop and I broke down. I didn’t know how much I liked this guy until I felt my heart tearing. Each sob caused another tear and another.
In 2009 I was finally in a better place and I was ready for another attempt to get a degree in the arts arena. I started a two Foundation Degree with 24 students. By week two that had whittled down to 7 students. Again a totally different bunch of lovely people. I fucked up. I stopped taking my meds. I was trying so hard to fit in but I guess I felt a bit intimidated by all the talented actors and talent. I didn’t know then that they were all just as frightened of failing as me. At first I was coping and I managed to go out get wasted and silly and form friendships . Standard uni stuff. One night a girl on my course rang me and told me to come out. She said the night was on her. I got dressed and put on my party face even though at that time I was taking 100 laxatives a day. When people asked me out I would say ‘Awesome. I will be there’ I had a bad habit and once I had taken those tablets I was ill. I mean of course I had the shits. Hahah. Never thought I would be typing this but the moment before I purged I had stomach cramps that pushed and pulled and stabbed at me from the inside. I couldn’t walk from the spasms. SO that night I gave a big fuck you to Anorexia and went out to have some fun and bond with some friends.
My taxi pulled up at ‘the only reputable club’ in that locality and I saw my college friend wave at me and she was laughing and she gave me £50 and told me to come with her. It was a bit.. Well, I was sober and everyone else was hammered. I didn’t find it funny. I wasn’t in the zone yet. I went to the bathroom and then I went to look for the pack and I couldn’t find them anywhere. My mobile battery died and I turned around to the first person I saw to ask that person if I could use their mobile. I happened to bump into the person who went on to degrade and disrespect me in the most colourful and inventive ways. I couldn’t find anyone so we went back to mine and drank until………… I passed out mid sentence. This guy wouldn’t leave me alone. He was lovely at first but really full on. I tried to back away. My friends told me he looked creepy. Leave him alone. A guy from uni came up to me and told me that creepy ex was well and truly creepy and to stay away. Did I listen? no, I let my insecurities get the better of me. I melted into his world. At first it was flattering that someone would want to be around me so much. I didn’t think I was going to get in a relationship with him. I was trying to make friends and I had my eyes on someone else.
Out of respect to my daughter I won’t go into a diatribe of events. He tried to take my soul. When he couldn’t have all of me he came up with a cunning plan to try and take my life away from me. Our daughter. During this time I could feel Anorexia clawing it’s way back inside. Cold, damp and merciless. I couldn’t allow it a home again. I reached out to a couple I know and went on to meet my future husband to be. Before you judge- I have had my karma. I nearly lost my daughter as you may know from previous posts. I had time on my hands. Instead of being a full time Mom to my daughter , I was a 10 hour per week Mom instead. I decided while I battled it out in the court arena with social services and my creepy ex I would resume my studies. This time not in a mainstream uni but an online one. I worked my toosh off and today I can say I am a graduate. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner and my family.
DON’T JUDGE -if you can help it. That is a huge lesson I’ve learned. This piece of paper means so much more than the letters printed on it. It is a symbol – a tangible piece that reminds me how I got to this place where I am today. I’m a bride to be with a gorgeous daughter who will be four in October. I’m working with mental health charities and I am a stable weight- super healthy. I don’t smoke. I drink mostly water ( with the odd cocktail of course) , I exersise. I am a success. I am proud of me. No one can take that from me. I won’t let them. Always be ready to learn a bit more. I may have officially finished learning but I will not let that stop me from learning in other ways. I treat every experience in my life as a learning curve. Always look for the silver lining no matter how bleak.