CONTENT WARNING: This post contains mention of disordered eating, self-injury, suicide and domestic abuse. Reader discretion is advised.
If I’m honest, this post isn’t going to be an easy one to write. It’s not something I’ve been particularly open about to this degree, with the exception of close family and friends. But I feel it’s an important topic to talk about and if my experiences might help someone else, then I’m all for sharing.
As you all know, my relationship with food has been a bit of a turbulent one over the last few years. Losing my grandmother suddenly from lung cancer, and seeing her pain and rapid deterioration before her passing, led me to not only seek mental health help, but also was the catalyst for an anxious tummy.
It started a few weeks after her passing, I started experiencing a sudden, empty feeling in my belly even though I’d just eaten. It would feel like I’d not eaten in days or weeks and like I was going to pass out. This lasted for a few weeks before dissipating.
Over the years prior to seeking trauma therapy, I would have an undercurrent of “What if?” What if this happens again? What if I’m on my own if it happens? What if? What if? What if? Now it’s sensible to have a little granola bar or some snack in your bag if you get peckish on the go or, as in my case, can be a little prone to low blood sugar. While this is rational, my approach to this situation and my reaction regarding food to this was anything but.
As you all know, this snowballed when my paternal grandfather passed away after a long illness. I ate my feelings and binged until I was nearly throwing up multiple times a day. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full went completely out the window.
It wasn’t pretty, and my stomach took a good while to bounce back. While I don’t binge anymore (hooray!) doesn’t mean I don’t still get anxious. I do still struggle with anxiety relating to the fear of ’empty belly’ but I can rationalise it a lot better as whether it’s just the anxiety talking or not.
In regards to the difference between self-injury and masochism, I’ve been wanting to cover this for a few weeks now but wasn’t sure exactly as to properly word it, hoping it would make some kind of sense!
I’d be lying if I said I don’t have sexually masochistic fantasies sometimes and have done for many years now. I’ve had some inner conflict regarding some of these fantasies, depicting rough sex, domination, sadomasochism etc. as I never really consider myself a masochist in the strictest sense of the word.
If there is element of roughness involved, it’s solely to increase the pleasure. I don’t get off on being verbally degraded of thwacked until welts appear on my skin. While that works for many others, between consenting adults where limits are respected and aftercare is essential, it’s just not for me.
I like getting my hair playfully pulled. I like getting spanked. I like being dominated. However, masochism itself was something I had to be careful about when first exploring kinks and BDSM play with my boyfriend. As you all know, the emotional abuse from ex left me very frightened and anxious, where I needed (along with my grandmother’s passing) trauma therapy to help me recover.
It was a constant fight between telling myself I was right to stand up for myself and sexual/reproductive autonomy and feeling like he was right to use his humiliating and degrading words, to gaslight, that I was in fact someone with unrealistically high standards and had trust issues, and it was in fact “his right” to do what he wanted with my body. (not being comfortable with sex without condoms in a new relationship apparently meant that) It’s equally surprising and scary how common that kind of mental and emotional abuse is in relationships.
I’d experience bouts of depression that sometimes would get so severe I’d be unable to get out of bed that day, feeling catatonic. While I never physically hurt myself, I definitely had thoughts about it, considered it and also had thoughts of taking my own life. On a few occasions I seriously contemplated this, but thankfully never did anything.
I remember during one particularly severe bout, I had an urge. A masochistic urge. I remember being in the dark of my bedroom and having a vivid fantasy of wanting my boyfriend (my boyfriend, not ex) to spank my ass mercilessly with a paddle. I felt a release of emotion and then felt scared. While the content of said masochistic fantasy was no different to the many others I’ve had, the intention was different.
I didn’t feel the release because I wanted to be dominated in a fun, sexy way with my partner. I felt it because I felt like I deserved to be hurt. I felt ex’s words echoing in my mind and felt I deserved to be hurt because he got to such a vulnerable part of my mind and messed around with it, I’d feel like he was right. I wanted someone to take out my own self-harm for me.
Since that night, until I got into a much better frame of mind, I was wary of any masochistic sexual fantasies I had. Now I know it’s purely for my enjoyment, because I’m a sexual creature and I like to explore my sexuality freely and with someone I deeply trust and love. Not because someone thought they were entitled to parts of me because they were romantically and sexually involved with me for a brief time.
I’m just happy that I was able to get the help I needed and now am much stronger a person, with the love and support of my nearest and dearest. It’s ok not to be ok at times and it’s ok to bounce back. I’ve learned that while those were defining experiences in how I approach certain things in life, they themselves do not define me. I’m my own person and with that help and steps in recovery, I’m now a much stronger person for it.
All my love,