My Introduction to the Male Body (originally published July 8th, 2021)
Updated: Nov 6, 2021
(Trigger Warning : sexual assault, coercion, eating disorders)
(I've written this tonight on my cellphone, it's taken me 6 hours and I've smoked an entire pack of smokes in the process. I don't don't care if there's any spelling mistakes or things don't flow right, I'm posting it anyway. I need it out of me)
I was a lucky kid, I went on so many holidays with my family growing up. When my parents were still together we went to places by air - Malta, Tenerife, Canada Cyprus. And when my mum was with her long term partner we tended to go to places we could drive to - Scotland, France, Austria. I've visited most of the countries in western Europe, some more than once. Cities, countryside, small rustic towns, all beautiful in their own ways.
One summer my family went camping in a great campsite in France. The tents were fully equipped with everything a person could need. The word nowadays is 'glamping'. We only had to bring our clothes, games and buy food at the local 'hypermarché'. Our family had arranged to be there with other families we knew, which was great.
I know now that I'd very likely get a diagnosis of ADHD/ ADD if I were to seek one out, and no doubt I could get a prescription for some meds to help me focus. I have real trouble with my keeping my house in order, with not losing things, of talking too much, of going off in a tangent, of explaining myself. But I don't think I'm that far along the spectrum to warrant meds. I think I've done an okay job coping with my symptoms.
Nevertheless, I still felt like an outsider at school. My friends were boys, during most of my classes at least. I had a few long term crushes, they are called crushes for a reason - they crush you. But I was only ever their friend. I had very few real female friends, I felt that most just put up with me. I hung with the girls at sports practice because I was a pretty decent team player and athlete, and I got on well with fellow orchestra and band members. At lunches when I wasn't playing netball or had orchestra I'd be in one of the boiler rooms playing the piano. But in all honesty I preferred the company of the teachers, they were more on my wavelength and conversations with them always proved more interesting.
One afternoon I'd decided to walk over to the little campsite store. I can't remember what I bought or even if I actually made it there at all because something happened on the way there or back. I knew a little bit of French and a group of older French boys from the nearby town started talking to me. Talking to me? This was a first. I was genuinely confused as to why so many nice boys (men to me) would want to start up a conversation with me. I know why now. They'd planned the whole thing.
As they walked me to their tent. Things had been set up for what was about to happen. I had been set up. I was a little bit out of my comfort zone, not that I knew the word comfort zone back then. Actually I was totally out of my comfort zone. All those years ago the word consent was not around, let alone the term of enthusiastic consent. The idea that I had a choice in the matter at the time didn't cross my mind, not once. I didn't know how things went down in a normal, natural setting. I suppose I decided to trust them, albeit still feeling as awkward as I probably looked.
The ring leader, and I say ring leader because it felt like I was in the middle of them all, all seven of them, was the one who spoke the most English, took the role as director. He directed me, he told me what to do. He decided who was up next. My panties stayed on I believe. I was not raped but I was instructed to do things that I had never done before and had never had done to me before. Seven times in a row.
I don't know how I acted around my family afterwards, I think I told my sister, but I'm not sure. I think at the time I might have even been happy it had happened, I'd only kissed one boy when I was 11. I was meant to be happy about it, wasn't I? I hadn't been injured or hurt, no one had died and I'd made seven boys / men happy. I did what was asked of me.
September rolled around and I was so happy to have room 15 as a form room. One of the new teachers at the school proved to be one of my favorite teachers of all time. My new form tutor was awesome and his stories and anecdotes were truly epic. God, I loved school so much. It was gonna be a good year.
One morning on the drive to school my mum said to my sister and me, in the nicest way possible, that she thought we might want to consider losing a bit of weight and try to get a bit healthier. She was probably right. We were a bit on the heavy side. We had boobs, our bellies weren't flat and we had big bums. Our family were known for our bums, so yeah, she was probably right. I was probably close to 13 stone/ 180lbs. But that day, like so many times in my life, negative motivation has given me the impetus to prove myself to others. I decided that day that I would stop eating and I would slim down. I went home that day, looked through my sister's Vogue magazines and found a picture of Linda Evangelista doing a jumping jack off a log. I ripped that picture out carefully and carried it with me for months till one day I lost it. But by then I didn't need the picture for reference. I was well on my way to being as skinny as Linda. My lowest weight was 127lbs.
I counted calories, I became obsessed with all things nutrition, I exercised excessively, I craved the feeling of an empty belly, I kept a diary of everything I ate and would look back at it and feel disgusted with myself that I'd eaten too much that day. But overall I was winning. I'd done a fantastic job at being anorexic. I could be pretty fucking proud of myself.
At the same time as feeling so good about myself for being awesome at not eating, I also knew that my family were worried about me. I kinda ignored them.
I know my mum regrets saying anything to us that morning. We have spoken about it over the years. Obviously it impacted me immediately. But how was she to know how it was going to affect me so profoundly? She didn't. No blaming here so no need for forgiveness. My mother has shown me unconditional love from the very moment she knew I existed, but that's a whole other piece of writing.
I barely ate for two and a half years. I'd made a conscious decision that morning to start being in control of what I put into my body and what I did with my body. Then one day when I looked in the kitchen cupboard in Rye Gardens, a jar of hazelnut chocolate spread was sitting there unopened. All that time I had denied myself any pleasure from eating. I don't know what was going on with me as I stood gazing at this jar of chocolate spread, but something was happening. I grabbed a little spoon out of the drawer, opened the lid and ate spoon after spoon France's version of Nutella. I guess I stopped being anorexic as quickly as I started. I don't know.
It's almost 3.50am, July 8th, 2021, 30 years or so after that camping trip. It was literally only two weeks ago I realized what really had happened that day with the gang of French boys. And it was only one week ago when I was reading about anorexia because of a client at work got me curious about what causes it that I made the connection in my life. It has taken me three decades to figure out what the fuck happened to me. I didn't think what happened to me in that tent that day had had any effect on me and my life since. I was soooooooo wrong. I'm not in the right mindset tonight to go into details about how I think it all affected my life, my attitude towards sex, about my deep need to serve and to be used and to do as I'm told in my personal intimate relationships.
November 2019 was the 'start of the end' of me being ok with things that don't sit well with me. I'm not sure how far I have to go to be fully healed from that trip. I guess maybe one day I might be able to answer that question. I am truly thankful to the person in my life who 'made me' ask myself "Am I fucked up?"
(I will be adding to this post in the next few days or maybe just doing another post in regard to my life post this. Please know that I am NOT looking or NEEDING sympathy. I am merely sharing MY truth as a WAY to understand and to LET GO. Keeping this story to myself no longer serve ME. and by sharing it, maybe it can others reframe their own story)
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