And so throughout my childhood, I was still munching my way through many a bowl of Weetabix; without care or thought, as I did many other foods. and then, at the age of 12, I entered the world of my eating disorder, and things changed, drastically. As it did with everything else, my eating disorder changed my relationship with this particular food: profoundly, and, unsurprisingly, more than just a little negatively.
Since Weetabix was a food which I very much enjoyed - it has always constituted one of my favourite breakfast cereals - as well as being something which I generally found rather filling at whatever time of day I chose to eat it, I began to "use" it in a way which fitted in with my eating disorder's rigid system of oppression and restriction.
And I have memories - ones which are just as vivid as that one of the four-year-old me, scoffing a hot, soggy weetabix-resembling concoction at the kitchen table in Crabble Close - of such situations: me, Weetabix, Ed.
Of myself, standing in the ransackle kitchen of the house I rented in second year of college, leaning against the peeling wallpaper next to the fridge with a smile plastered to my face and my arms folded tightly against my breast, conversing gaily with the nursing student girls who I shared with. An outer semblance of a chirpy, chatty little English student, who was just that little bit smaller than the average 20 year old, perhaps. But on the inside, I was churning, tossing, plummeting like a stone spinning in slowly revolving circles over the side of a great ravine. My cheeks burned like two mini furnaces side by side; my palms and underarms itched uncontrollably. Don't let them see, don't let them see. Please, make them go away; please, please, please please make them go...
You'd be forgiven for thinking I'd just committed some sort of crime.I hadn't, of course. But there was something there in that kitchen that I did not want them to see.
There was a weetabix box sitting innocently in the corner of the room.
I had just been in the process of moving towards the fridge to get out my 1 litre bottle of milk i had bought from tesco express that morning - skimmed, of course - when the three student nurses had all come in together, voicing loudly how hungry they were after a long and very taxing day at college. I stood there, trying desperately to conceal how pathetically anxious I was, praying miserably that they would not notice what I was doing - or rather, perhaps, what I was not doing; that being, cooking for myself a "proper" evening meal of some description.
But no. Instead of bags of potatoes or rice, instead of a packet of fish or chicken or a package of noodles or bread - instead, on the counter, there was a box of Weetabix.
Having starved myself for most of the day, I had just been about to break my "fast" for the evening, by having a couple of weetabix with a little sugar and some milk.My daily allowance. I would savour every mouthful of that bowl. Because it was one of the meagre few things that I would eat in a day.
That was about three years ago now.
And, since then, I have come far. Those days of rigid restriction and starvation are gone, long gone.
Now, I enjoy Weetabix most days - at breakfast, or at snack time, and not as a " meal " as I used to.
I enjoy 2 - not 1 - at breakfast time usually; sometimes with ice cold milk to retain its delightful crispy wheatiness; othertimes, with milk warmed until hot in the microwave, resulting in a delightful, warming bowl of a weetabix-like porridge.
And then, having eaten that, I eat other foods at breakfast time, too, now: something which, at one time, the very thought of which would have filled me with both horror and revulsion. In fact, such a propsect was unthinkable to me, back then. Often then, breakfast consisted of nothing but a single lone weetabix, a little skimmed milk, and maybe a banana or an apple. And then...nothing. Nothing but endless swigs of water, for hours on end. That was how I used to eat.
Is it any wonder my bones are brittle, weak, osteoporotic - forever?
Is it any wonder that I cost myself so much damage - some of which, I know, I will never be able to repair?
One thing today I can assert with conviction. I never want to go back to those days.
It's true to say that, at the moment, there aredays when I just feel so scared at the thought of moving forward. Over the past few weeks my weight gain has been slow; true to say, I;m around 2 kilos off the "mimimum" acceptable weight (but did not I say that I should aim to go beyond that?) but I know deep down that I should perhaps consider another increase to my current intake. Either that, or reduce the walking again. And the thought of doing either are just...so, so terrifying.
Wasn't there a time...
when the thought...
of eating two Weetabix at breakfast was terrifying? The thought of eating two weetabix and toast; the thought of not eating Weetabix as a main meal, of sorts??
But yet...I achieved all that, and more.
I conquered my fears. And if I choose to, I can conquer more of them: I can reach the top of the mountain.
I feel afraid, I feel terrified, and at times, I feel...completely powerless.
But those oval shaped wheat biscuits are a reminder to me of just how far I have come.
And that, ultimately,
I do have the power to move forward.