Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A post about my paperwork - CLICK AWAY while you still can

Present Clinic victims are trickling in. Send in details of your tricky relative and we'll suggest stupid stuff. I'll do a big old round up of horrible recipients and our horrible ideas for them tomorrow.

In the meantime I have been having a day of tidying. These happen very infrequently, and always follow the same arc: anticipatory fear, sulky intital heel dragging, resignation, a brief flurry of enthusiasm, afternoon despondency at the infinite nature of the task, followed by a manic second wind that keeps me up until 3am aligning tea caddies and polishing tea spoons. Final slump.

I am somewhere between afternoon despondency and the second wind that I sort of hope never comes right now. But most importantly I have dealt with the Box of Doom.

When I left the old house, I threw everything papery that belonged to me in one box. This ranged from passport, to tax retruns, to old birthday cards and scraps torn from magazines about good lipsticks. It has been giving me cold sweats every time I walk past it, inconveniently placed in the middle of the corridor in full view.

So I did it. Reader, it was fucking awful. But I learnt stuff. All manner of stuff.

Exhibit 1: Unopened letters from HSBC and ING

So it transpires that once in March, and once in October this year, banks cancelled my cards due to suspected fraud. I had absolutely no idea. I wonder what happened next? I will never know, there is no chronology in the box, it is merely a series of isolated events captured on crumpled paper.

Exhibit 2: Medical insurance papers to reclaim money (approx 40, each worth approx €20)

And here we learnt that I go to the doctor about ten times more often than both children put together. I find this depressing. It indicates that I am well on the way to becoming one of those elderly ladies who see ill health as a hobby and love nothing more than to discuss their 'condition' at length with any medical professional they can pin down. It was like a photo album of pain, filling in the stupid fiddly slips to reclaim the money. Look, the time I fainted on the tram! And this one's the 14 hour trip to A & E for the knee where they gave me morphine as a consolation prize after forgetting about me in the plaster room for 7 hours! Ah, and that was the ancient coughing gynaecologist with the African fertility symbols! Oooh and I remember that syringe. And that one! Etc etc etc.

I do not want to be that person. I am actually in perfectly good health, bar the stupid knee. . I have made a good start by failing to renew my prescription for antidepressants for so long that I have had all the entertaining side effects of withdrawal and can't really face starting again. I feel fine anyway. Maybe I'm CURED? (cue manic laughter and drooling). Let's see how cured I feel in January, the devil's month.

Exhibit 3 Long and carefully preserved Elle Belgique article on liposuction and who does it best

Finding this article was like seeing Crazy Emma preserved in amber. I distinctly remember being absolutely adamant that I would have liposuction as soon as I could afford it. I was planning to spend my next bonus on dangerous, painful, unnecessary elective surgery. Then, as now, I would have been about 8 1/2 stone. I always am, give or take, though I've long since stopped weighing myself (no good can come of that palaver when you're an ex-bulimic. Are you an ex? Or is it like alcoholics? Whatever). And I genuinely believed I should have liposuction. Truly. When I cut this article out, I had just worked my way back from 7 stone of pure crazy, scrawny, madness. Possibly the thought of liposuction in reserve acted like a comfort blanket, helping me feel ok about regaining weight. It was my transitional object, my doudou.

But doudou must go in the bin, in the same way I had to bin the 24" waist jeans, and the Madeleine Press trousers seemingly made for dollies that would barely reach my knees now. I've binned them all because I'm not going back to that half life and I wouldn't want to leave the door even ajar. It's crap. I know how thin feels and yes, I did love it, it would be disingenous to suggest I didn't like it when shop assistants said "you're TINY!" or when I fitted into, and looked good in everything, didn't have to think about what suited hips or tits. But I also remember how mad it made me, how brittle and angry; how joyless. I remember the permanent headache, and the feeling of my seat bones banging against the chair as I sat down. Worse still, I remember how delighted i was to feel that. I remember a whole year without complex carbohydrate, scraping the breadcrumbs off fishfingers, feeling terrified of going to someone's house for a meal. I remember trying to bargain with my my counsellor as she insisted I ate some carbs. "How about a bread roll with some soup?" I remember suggesting, madly calculating in my head how I could get a really tiny roll, maybe not finish it, not eat for the rest of the day...

It's hardly credible now. I truly, absolutely, eat what I like when I like. I might not always manage a balanced meal, but I eat enough and I eat everything. I wondered if I might get odd about food being on my own in a new house, but it hasn't materialised much to my relief. My body and my mind know how much I need the fuel, for these are tough times and I have others relying on me to be ok. Yet even so, I know how quickly the paradigm can shift and how easy it is to fall back into those comforting patterns of self-denial and restriction. My hands still occasionally stray to my chest to check how bony it is, because it used to comfort me back in the dark days.

So the article goes in the bin and I eat a meal, a real meal with carbs and I finish with a pudding, because way back when I was twenty and first in the throes of an eating disorder, I remember the wonderful, gentle and sharp Professor Russell telling me he always did. And that that was how you knew a meal was finished. (I have such gratitude and affection for Professor Russell. What a privilege to have been treated by someone so wise and humane. Thank you Professor Russell, and thank you Ellie at Lissom Grove too, even though I lied and wriggled and pretended to you I didn't have a problem. Fuck, what is this, the therapy Oscars? ).

Exhibit 4: Boys on Frogs

Quick! Let's lighten the mood. I also found this ridiculous picture, bought at outlandish cost from Antwerp zoo. It made me laugh.

And finally, the box is empty. I have hidden forty three bank statements in the recycling. I am still spectacularly stupid in lots of ways. But when I look at Exhibit 3 stuffed in the recycling with 478 electricity bills and unanswered Christmas cards c1998, I know that things are at least heading in the right direction.


cailinos said...

That was absolutely fucking brilliant....I'm cheered for you, of course, but anyone with their own black blankets and weird terrors would ingest this gratefully, with shocked recognition and sparks of light. Pah...done it myself now...all serious when a gay spurt of wit is required! But thnx, I dug it goood.


the polish chick said...

congratulations on getting through the box. that sort of thing always grows and grows until it becomes a lurking menacing shadow over your whole existence.

you are a fantastic, intelligent, entertaining, beautiful and hilarious woman, and i am glad i found you on the internets.

have wonderful holidays, dear waffle, and keep up the good work!

p.s. i suspect the whole liposuction industry is in cahoots with the fast food industry - i mean, they need to fry those burgers in something, no?

Sinda said...



Cee said...

I have to say, 8.5 stone is still really fucking tiny. TINY!

Waffle said...

Yeah, Cee, but I'm a pygmy. A pony faced pygmy.

Anonymous said...

Good to hear you're off the anti-depressants. Keep it up. They are not a cool gig.

the polish chick said...

cool gig or not, anonymous, they are the only way some people can make it through the day. i was once one of them and i never feel smug about the fact that i am no longer on the drugs, because i might one day need them again.

Waffle said...

Too right Polish Chick. Prozac got me my degree. Cheers, Prozac.

Kelly said...

in my case i gave up anti-depressants the same time i gave up the husband. I suspect on ewas highly associated with the other. Go you! Sounds like your head is in a really great place- immersed in arse! and P.S 8.5 really is truly fucking TINY.

Lisa-Marie said...

I think you are very brave. i left all of that stuff at my old flat, and am ignoring it. we already have 2 drawers full of stuff here, and we've only been here for4 months. I'll have to move again soon.

soleils said...

Madame Waffle, I recently discovered your blog and, comment dire? Je suis tombée sous le charme. I now look forward to those clever, laugh-out-loud funny, serious, light, moving, tender, lucid, blunt combinations of words that appear on your corner of the Oueb. Reading you is fast becoming a highlight of my day. And before you say anything self-deprecating, no, my days are not dull - reading you gives me a reason to pause, in fact. I just really wanted to thank you. Thank you. Et merci, aussi.

connie said...

A beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

Belgian Waffle, you are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I had that sensation of feeling my seat bones just last night. Until I realised I was sitting on a coat hanger.
An absolutely fucking brilliant post.
You ARE tiny. I was afraid to hug when I met you incase I broke something.
Onglet et frites soon?

Z said...

I've ruthlessly given presents early or promised them late, which has the additional advantage of giving me hardly anything to wrap. So when Dr C sneers, I can blow him a big wet kiss to give him Christmas cheer. Mind you, I've a load of stuff ordered from Amazon that I haven't been bothered to open as it arrived. It's all sitting there on one of the armchairs that we can't sit in because they're all full of stuff.

Congratulations on the box. Huge achievement. And it's not there glowering balefully at the start of next year, so that's one in the eye for the devil, at any rate.

pinolona said...

oh well done on tackling the box! I still have a Poland box like that. From the first time I left Poland, ie 2008...

I agree with everyone else, 8 1/2 stone is pretty darn petite :)

Juci said...

I did a quick web-based calculation on how much 8.5 stone was in proper units and my jaw dropped. I think that's a very healthy weight, even for a pygmy. Good for you! And well done with the box, I am v. proud of you.

The Spicers said...

Well done on the Box of Doom! I'm still ignoring my own, half hoping the house will burn down and I'll never have to look at it.
But I'm still fixated on the 119 lbs. You are, by any measure, THIN (unless you're 4'6"). And good for you for getting rid of your scale and the lipo article: no good can come of that.

SabinePsynopsis said...

Ah, the demons you can find in boxes. That's why I have a ritual fire every few years. Helps to get rid of the past. (Maybe that's why I now have a blog, to remind me?) To not also go into the weight issue - They cancelled your cards and you didn't notice? You must be one frugal person.

Anonymous said...

Laughing at Sabines comment. Frugal? Hmmmmmm...
I'm still reeling at you not claiming 800euros. Imagine the shoes that could have bought!

Waffle said...

Shut up Fran I am TOTALLY frugal. Snigger.

stroopwaffle said...

Ooh I so know what you mean, every last word of this rings true. Prozac allows me to tell the difference between excitement and terror, but only just!

Did I see fit to mention you look waaay too youthful to have spawned Lashes and Fingers?
Mwah, from an Amsterdam Stroop -Waffle finally delurking myself

Madame DeFarge said...

It makes my little boxes of dog eared receipts seem positively dull by comparison. Great post and loved the boys on frogs.

Top Bird @ Wee Birdy said...

So bloody cathartic, very well done. You're awesome.

Elsie said...

Excellent post (still trying to obtain UK Elle from University bookstore here). My kitchen floor is littered with those Bridget Kecks pieces and I am scrawling nasty words on butcher aprons with a sharpie - I have told my family we are having a "belgian" holiday.

MadameSmokinGun said...

Yes...I have Box of Doom, Bags of Doom, Kitchen Counter of Doom, Cupboard Under the Stairs of Doom, Stairs of Doom, Under the Beds of Doom, Entire Bedrooms of Doom, Car of Doom, Head of Doom...... Now and then I rearrange them into slightly less Piles of Doom. Sometimes I even think about crashing the Car of Doom just so I don't ever have to tackle the Piles of ... again. What stops me is the thought of someone else dipping their unsuspecting toe into them after I'm dead and realising how weird I really am - was. Then I resolve to attack the Piles ... before I die. This keeps me alive.

pinolona said...

did you manage to get out of Brussels??? I'm snowed in :(

G said...

Congrats on the box!!

I tend to just forget about these things, thinking if anything gets bad enough, they'll ring me about it. Paper is olllld news. :)

I like your writing by the way, it's honest and flows well.

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