This is the next installment in our anonymous Secret Stories series.
Just a note to anyone who has submitted a piece, I have a backlog right now, and because I’m only featuring two a week, it may take a few weeks for some of your pieces to be featured, so don’t think I’m not using them or have forgotten about them!
To submit your own Secret Story, click HERE
I loved her and I know she loved me. She said so on as many occasions. Let’s call her Jill. She just wasn’t forthcoming with the fact that there was something she loved a little more than me. I was dating this girl for nearly three years in total, but she had been bulimic for nearly 10 years before we met. I found out about a year into our relationship. She was terrified telling me and seemed scared I would leave her, but that’s not who I am. If someone has a problem, I don’t overlook it and I always try to help them with it. I mean I was her friend before I was her boyfriend, so the compulsion to help was a strong one. I thought Jill was scared telling me because I might leave her. It turns out she was scared of telling me because she was worried I would tell a doctor and have her committed to an asylum. Funny how the people you know best still don’t know you at all.
This went on for so long. Her bulimia brought on depression. She would intermittently tell me she had stopped, then I would see all the signs again – the stash of sweets under the bed, the excessive use of toilet roll, the recent photos of her ribs on her computer (I stumbled upon them while looking for holiday snaps, I didn’t hunt them. I mean there was never any reason to distrust her. Jill was always very faithful to me.).
Soon she stopped feeling the need to hide it. There were times when I would hear her as she went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, stopping for a bowl or two of cereal on the way, then coming back to bed with an empty stomach. One horrific night after a gig she got so blistered drunk that when we got home she picked up a garbage bag and started vomiting into it until there was nothing left. Then she kept going until there was no bile left. I tried and pleaded and pulled her hands away and just wanted her to stop. She had a glazed-over expression in her eyes and almost a smile as she told me so calmly “no, I like it.” She passed out completely exhausted and slept like a baby. I just sat in a bundle beside the bed with my head in my hands. I took her to hospital the next day when (surprise, surprise) she wasn’t feeling too well. The doctors found nothing unusual. Against all my most loyal urges, I told one of the nurses that she was bulimic. “What’s that?” she said. I
lost faith in anybody else caring about her at that point, much less helping.
Her periods stopped. Then the sex stopped. Then her lack of awareness came to fruition and she just started losing a grip on reason. I worried that I was a factor in her illness. I never treated her badly, but I wondered if I was suffocating her socially. When I asked her, she told me I could sleep with other people, so long as I didn’t leave her and could still take care of her. After that point, I couldn’t cry any more. I never gave her an ultimatum and this wasn’t one, but I needed to know if she had to choose between me and the bulimia, which would it be? Jill said she had asked herself that question ever since we started going out which, to me, meant that she just wasn’t willing to give it up, even if it meant the end of us. She would always have her bulimia til the day she died, that would never leave. She said it was her comfort thing, the one thing she could always rely on. Apparently that wasn’t me.
I’m a gracious loser, but not a good loser. The only thing worse than coming last is coming second and coming second to a mental affliction was something I couldn’t handle. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, suffering headaches, suffering academically and financially to complement the emotional woe.
I broke it off amicably. There were no tears. In fact, there were smiles.
I realise that in this story it is just my side. I’ve more than likely made her come across as a horrible, insufferably selfish bitch but this was only a small part of who she was. For the majority of our time together, she was a brilliant, happy, intelligent, beautiful and talented girl with so much going for her. She still is and still does. She is caring and compassionate for others as well as me. This is what crushed me most of all in that no matter what I could do, no matter how I much support and love I could give, I could never help her. A close friend asked me a personal question yesterday and it reminded me of Jill, so I probably wouldn’t have thought written this, had it not been for her. It does feel good to talk(type?) about this.
I am over her, I don’t depend on her and don’t spend hours looking at old photographs, but the fact that the experience and bad memories last longer makes me so confused. Was it worth it? I’m going to stop now because I’m in fear of rambling and in no way do I want a personal confession to turn into so proto-philosophical over-sentimental rubbish.
She’s still my friend, though not as close of one. I said I’d always be here if she needed me. I meant it.