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My Mother The Food Addict


Forkfuls of feeling Photo via

By Ruth Fowler


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Once my mother stabbed me with a fork.

We never did the things you’re meant to do as mother and daughter. I learned how to apply make up from strippers in a Manhattan club. I had to figure out sanitary towels through trial-and-error—she’d been irritated and disgusted the first time I’d gotten my period. As children, we could all cook and clean at a young age through necessity—she disliked doing either. Dad never hit us, but until the time she could not—or would not—walk, Mum used to dole out the slaps, the punches, the kicks, the hair pulling, until well into our twenties. Older Sister told me that Dad had once stood over her as she assuaged a worried Social Workers‘ fears over the phone. Now Mum refuses to move and sits in the same chair in the kitchen for hours on end, I always stand well out of slapping distance of her meaty paw.

I am a bit worried when Dad buys her an electronic wheelchair so that she can still get around.

Once my mother stabbed me with a fork. When people ask about my relationship with my mother, because I tend only to talk about my Dad, it’s what I say. My mother stabbed me with a fork. I don’t say it to shock, but because it explains quite a lot. Why I am—what one might term—a big old Fuck Up. I don’t blame Mum for the fact that I’m bonkers, that I find happiness so difficult, that the majority of my life has been spent in various methods of self-harm, that I’m an alcoholic, an addict and in recovery. But I blame Mum for the fact that her love of food means I don’t have a mother who will hold me and stroke my hair and let me cry and love me when things are difficult. For some reason, I’ve never really come to terms with that.

Ruth Fowler has written for The Village VoiceThe GuardianThe Huffington PostThe New York Post and The Observer. Her memoir, No Man's Land, which documented her pre-sobriety experiences as a stripper in Manhattan, was published by Viking in 2008. She also wrote about why doctors can't deal with addicted patients and nursing your way back to health, among many other topics.

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