Do you remember 1999? Of course you do. If the pressure was ever on to get skinny for a Christmas party, it was that year.
I’d been feeling a lot better in 1999. Mainly because I managed to escape from the relentless negativity of the job I hated, and move miles away so that I never had to see the perpetrator of my bullying hell ever again. Unfortunately, I ended up in Soham, which even before the only thing the place the town is famous for was still a sh*t hole.
Anyway, despite everything, and despite the temptation for me to rattle off all the things my awful boss did that made me miserable before I managed to escape, things were a bit better in 1999. My determination to move away and leave Suffolk Trading Standards behind me, coupled with the amount of self help books I had been reading, made me feel a lot stronger. I wasn’t bingeing so much, although I was still overeating. I hadn’t managed to lose any weight, despite joining Slimming World AGAIN in Ipswich just before I moved. I think I dropped about half a stone and then put it back on again, same old, same old.
Husband #2 had managed to successfully cut me off from most of my friends and family before we left. Now, I don’t really want to get all whiney about it, because it was me doing my people-pleasing and not standing up for myself that allowed it to happen. But I got earache for spending time with my parents, he didn’t like my male friends (he’d banned me from even talking to one of them, and moaned about my work-mate Mark who he said fancied me, but clearly didn’t) and even managed to stop me seeing my closest female friend because she was ‘weird’ and ‘she’s always trying to split us up so that you can go out with her more’. She wasn’t.
I was allowed to see L, and her boyfriend P, though. We moved to Soham because they lived there, and because she’d managed to get H#2 a job back in the office they’d met in. Cosy, huh? But I was just desperate to get away and ignored any alarm bells.
As soon as I got to Soham that October I rejoined Slimming World. This was going to be my new start! I did meet a lovely girl there, who became a good friend. She was getting on for 18 stone when she started and was losing astonishing amounts of weight every week. With my eating disorder head on, I was a bit worried, but she was clapped and cheered every single week for 5, 6 and 7 pound losses. I asked her how she did it one day and she said that she ate less than 1000 calories most days. usually about 800. She was working in a hospital at the time, on her feet every day and had almost fainted more than once. Why didn’t it occur to the leader to ask her if she was OK? She wasn’t anorexic, but she was undereating massively and to the point of fainting for God’s sake. We weren’t close enough for me to lecture her at that point.
She went on to get through to the finals of the Slimming World Woman of the Year competition in either 2000 or 2001. She lost SO much weight and had got down to a size ten, so she was thrilled. Her boyfriend proposed. She did confess to me that the speed she’d lost the weight had left her with the dreaded loose skin, and to me she looked gaunt, but as I was 14 stone at the time, it would have sounded like sour grapes to say so. It doesn’t give me any pleasure to say with a resigned sigh that when she went through a bad time a couple of years later she put the whole damn lot back on again with interest.
As we got closer to The Millennium I was panicking big time about my weight. We planned a big party at home and I knew there’d be pictures. The weight loss adverts were everywhere. Looking good for the Year 2000 parties was ESSENTIAL. My heroine at the time was J-Lo and I kidded myself I could have a booty like hers if I just managed to stick to my Red Days and Green Days, and didn’t go over my Syns. Guess what? I couldn’t. I didn’t. And I never will.
I saw the 21st century in on a cocktail of vodka, painkillers and sheer determination as I came down with the ‘flu that was doing the rounds on New Year’s Eve. I collapsed into bed around 2.30 am and the next morning I couldn’t speak, eat or move and all I wanted was very cold cranberry juice to drink. But the good thing was it got me out of clearing up the wreckage.
2000 was going to be fabulous. I was going to lose weight, sort myself out and do something with my life. Really.