The thing about bulimia is you can't ever completely unlearn it. You can't simply erase it from your mind and pretend you don't know about it, however much you might wish to. Forgetting dates, names, or numbers is one thing; forgetting a set of actions and gestures so ingrained they have become pure reflex is something else entirely.
So if you, for instance:
- were an "ex" bulimic in slighty shakier mental health than you yourself even realised;
- in charge of supplying chocolate snacks to an office full of eurodrones from a large bowl on your desk;
- and you had bought some new After Eight sticks for that bowl that turned out to be outrageously moreish and delicious;
- and if, in the space of ten minutes you ate 90% of the box of stupidly delicious After Eight sticks, mechanically stretching out to take another whilst still swallowing the last one until you physically couldn't force another down, blocking out any thoughts that might flit through your head;
you might find yourself toying with the restless feeling that you remember that there is a 'solution' to this kind of bingeing.
And within minutes, you might find you couldn't sit still, or concentrate, or do anything with this feeling in your gut and this persuasive whisper in your head.
And then, you might find yourself, without ever consciously making a decision to do so, ever so casually wandering along to the toilets at an studiedly unhurried pace. You might stop to get yourself a cup of hot water from the drinks dispenser, like you have so very many times in the past.
Then you might lock yourself in the cubicle and make yourself sick.
And you might, whilst doing this, be reminded that chocolate is not the easiest thing in the world to throw up. And consequently it might take you a good twenty minutes of stupid, horrible indignity. You might also find that those twenty minutes give you a lot of time to ask yourself what the fuck you think you are doing, but that apparently, they don't give you the mental strength to actually stop. You might also be reminded of all the hours you have wasted in toilet cubicles over your life.
When you had finished, you would probably feel like shit, but there might also be a tiny shred of satisfaction, at least momentarily.
You would wash your hands and look at your bloodshot eyes in the mirror over the sink, and try to fix your flushed, blotchy face so it looked a bit more normal. Then perhaps you would get another drink of water and quickly walk back to your desk, hoping noone noticed how long you were in the bathroom.
You would probably have a headache and a crappy throat and sore eyes and you'd be sad. You would be worried whether it would affect your temper tonight with your children, the way it used to. You might try and work out what 'triggered' you back onto that idiotic rollercoaster.
You might feel as if you had learned nothing at all since you were nineteen.
But how could you ever break free of it completely?