Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Story

UPDATE: If you've followed a link here, I ask that you read the entire story before passing any judgment.

A year ago, my life-changing journey began. Today, I write about how it ended.

I write this for whatever wisdom my readers can take from it.


My wife was bulimic and anorexic. I never knew this. Not until 3 weeks ago.

She has not exhibited the symptoms over the 6 years I have been with her. She has her methods of keeping these symptoms under control. What I didn't realise until 3 weeks ago was that bulimia and anorexia are themselves symptoms of a deeper condition.

I have no name for this deeper condition. I only know how it works. It feeds of healthy self-respect people should have of their bodies, excreting guilt and shame. It whispers dark seductive thoughts of how you can be the image of what you are bombarded with, and the teeny little sacrifices you have to make, but they are worth it, right? It is the dark monster formed of objectification and false images.

I know this condition well. More importantly, I know how ill-suited I am to tend to this condition. My ex was also anorexic and bulimic. She did terrible things to get my attention. Once, she tore her wrist open with a fork. "It's the only control I have", she told me.

I set myself up against this unquenchable thirst and failed the first time round. I lost my ex-girlfriend's attention, and she moved on to another man in very short order. I grew bitter.

When my wife asked about my ex, I told her all the horror stories, never knowing that my wife had gone through something similar. She was scared by my stories, and how bitter I had grown. She felt she couldn't tell me. She tried for 6 years to work herself through this and she failed. I don't blame her. I saw the same symptoms but I didn't understand them. Without understanding them, I was doomed to repeat the mistakes of my past.

And so it was. During the 6 years, I hurt her badly, and I never knew.

I dearly want to work through this with her. I love her deeply. I still do. Being the cause of her pain, however, I cannot. She cannot help but see me as a source of pain. She cannot heal with me beside her.

Alone, she might stand a chance.

Hence, I wait. At a determined point in the future, we will sit down again and decide whether we can heal. If it ends, it ends arbitrarily. We will have our closure.


Thus ends my journey. I return to Singapore for three months. Even if I get back together with my wife after three months, it will be to face the future together. If I face the future without my wife, then at least, I face it with a clean slate and hard-won wisdom. I am content.

This is only one of many reasons behind the seperation. I choose to write about this one because it is the most poignant. If I cannot avoid my past, I can at least prevent someone else's future. More importantly, this is my attempt to make people understand: The monster claims no single victim, because it hurts us too.

I refuse to be a victim. Today, I take the fight to the monster.


James said...

Your wife needs help. That disease can kill her. Well-known bulimic and anorexic victims include Karen Carpenter (of the brother/sister singing duo The Carpenters) and the Olsen twins. Check out this site: ( Hope she gets strong support from her family and friends soon. Stay strong, Anthony. Wishing you all the best.

alchemist said...

It's not the fight you take to the monster, but the monster you take to the fight... (conjuration specialist). But seriously, old friend, you have a party with you. It might help. We all remember certain paladins who forgot this... *hugs*

-ben said...

My ex was also anorexic and bulimic. She did terrible things to get my attention. Once, she tore her wrist open with a fork. "It's the only control I have", she told me.

That sounds like borderline personality disorder. I had an ex-girlfriend like that. She ripped the skin on her thigh to ribbons whenever we fought. It was horrifying, beyond comprehension, and emotionally exhausting.

Adding to what james said, bulimia nervosa damages the oesophagus and erodes the molars. Not to be alarmist and add to the litany of victims / sufferers, but Terri Schiavo fell into her irreversible coma because if this eating disorder. Professional help is necessary.

All the best, Anthony.

Anthony said...

Hi James and Ben,

I am well aware of the consequences of bulimia and anorexia. My wife has told me she hasn't had an attack in years, and there is no reason for me to doubt it - I've fed her very well over the years I've been with her and her weight has remained more or less stable.

That being said, I agree that she needs professional help, even if she hasn't had an attack in years. I have a feeling she's only controlled the symptoms and not the underlying sources of tension.

BlackRX said...

1) I agree that your wife needs help to treat the underlying cause of her problems, not its manifestations.

2) To borrow a line from my favorite manga, "Who is the monster?"

In our own ways, we all have been, are, and will continue to be. Even if it's just a little. Still.

Johnny Malkavian said...

Thank you, Anthony, for sharing with us your story of a love less ordinary.

kelvin said...

Hope you are well.
Take care.

The Oriental Express said...

Thanks for sharing your sotry. I once counselled a teenage student who was anorexic and bulimic. She was painfully thin. Thank God she is now ok.

Oblivious said...

Perhaps I am being oversimplistic about this, but I'll say my piece anyways.

The only cure for this is your love and attention. Your wife/girlfriend wants nothing but this.

If you love her, show it. Bluntly even. Spend time with her, shower her with your affection. Take a holiday with her. Rekindle those warm feelings you've had with her in your early days.

What is it that women want? Love. Unconditional Love.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Oblivious...

People with anorexic and bulimic thirst for attention...serious attention. So you have to pay more attention on your part to make her feel confident AS IS, that is, the way she is or she will be.
They care about views/thoughts/opinions/gossips from people around them, that's why they torture/control themselves to get to that ideal image they think people around them are inspired of.

"What is it that women want? Love. Unconditional Love."
More...attention, compliments, gifts...etc.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Oblivious (2)...
Playing less games(WOW or whatever) shoulda help in paying more attention to her, I guess. :P

I was bitter and frustrated when my ex spending much time playing his freaking game(Diablo) and then no surprise, we broke up.
Games are really bad, guys! LOL.

Anthony said...

Oblivious and Anonymouses,

I am aware of the attention needs. Perhaps if I am given another chance, that is what I will do. What I will say is this - the level of attention asked for is entirely draining, because it doesn't lessen when you give more attention. Quite the opposite, it escalates.

-ben said...

The latest round of advice from oblivious and the 2 anonymous commentors should be taken with a fistful of salt.

Sorry to burst your bubble, ladies, but love is conditional. True unconditional love only exists when one is a child. After that, one grows up. As mature adults, either partner has a list of obligations and responsibilities. To allow the other to abandon these without justifiable reason is to engage in the act of enabling. Such unhealthy indulgence only exacerbates problems and degenerates the union into a dysfunctional relationship. In this case, a codependency marriage.

An interesting read (be sure to finish perusing to the end):

BlackRX said...

what ben said.

Anonymous said...

From the same anonymous,
I agree with Ben on "unconditional love".
Love b/t two adults is rational and logical(i.e conditional, they might be diff req's: women tend to focus on intellectual, security: money, assets...etc.) while men weigh more on physical attraction and some other.
Back to bulimic and anorexic topic, one thing to blame for is the mass media, addressing how pretty women look like, making ppl who have low self esteem and confidence to worship and follow and making them fellowers of the mass's models of everything.
I do not know why women in general have such wrecked self-confidence.
I've never understood the fashion trends women like to follow(why should we care what other people think this is what you should be wearing at this time of the season?).
Fashion/Shoe/Bag industries are obviously taking advantage of that.

codfish said...

Damn - Ben, you beat me to it.....

I'll add my $0.02 to the debate anyway, though am basically echoing the last three: asking for unconditional love is as selfish as not giving it at all. Plus if you can't love yourself enough to take care of yourself, I don't see how you can ask others to do so, let alone unconditionally. Come on, take some responsibility for your life too.

Sentiments like "What is it that women want? Love. Unconditional Love" just annoy me intensely, not to mention they are insulting. I don't know where you got that point of view from, but, believe me, not all of us are that needy.

All two-penny "advice" aside... hang in there, Anthony, and take care.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Just something off tangent. I am wondering if you are familiar with Joy Division.

Anthony said...

Shyue Chou,

No, I'm not. What's Joy Division?

Anonymous said...

"judgment" has only one (1) "e".

Sprezzatura said...

depends. it CAN have 2 Es if one writes in a semi-period style. i often spell 'commandement', for a start.

~Pink Miu Miu~ said...

Seems 2006 is not a good yr for both of us.. though might seem outdated but as im now gg thru almost the same thing in relationship so sort of can relate to hw u feel at that time though not exactly, anyway i agree with wat u said "if I get back together with my partner after three months, it will be to face the future together. If I face the future without my partner, then at least, I face it with a clean slate and hard-won wisdom. I am content."