1EAT OR BE EATEN
You know when kids do dumb stuff and grownups say “Oh, they’re just children, they don’t know what they’re doing…”? From the very start, I knew exactly what I was doing. Everything was thought out, part of a bigger plan. I mean, knowledge is key, right? And how was I supposed to lose all that excess weight and get skinny without doing proper research first?
The first few weeks I just didn’t eat anything. Like, at all. I would make up excuses at the dinner table and I quickly learned which ones were more believable. Or which excuses would cover two or maybe even three days. “I think I might be getting sick” and a good performance would grant me three full days of not eating until my mom wanted to take me to the doctor, which led to that I all of a sudden would feel a lot better. “I’m on my period… I feel nauseous”, could give me a day and a half, maybe two. It was really only dinner that I had to figure out - I always woke up late for school and my parents thought that I would buy something on the way, which I obviously didn’t do. Lunch? I told my friends that I had a large breakfast. When would my friends ever discuss my breakfast habits with my parents? Exactly.
Not eating was great. People talk about feeling tired and unmotivated but motivated was all I was. Not eating became part of me; who I wanted to be, who I was going to be. And when I one day realised that I was no longer even thinking about it - there was no hunger, no cravings, no anxiety - that was when I knew I would be okay. I had passed the first test. The first real challenge, which was not giving in.
But what I noticed after a couple of weeks was that it was taking too long. I was loosing weight, sure, but I wasn’t loosing enough. I needed a new plan, a new strategy to the war I was fighting. Looking back I have also realised that this wasn’t something that I wanted to do, this was something that needed to be done. Think about that difference for a second; I didn’t want to do this. I needed to do this. That is at least what it felt like. It gets to a point were this, loosing weight, is all there is. It takes over, absorbs every other thought you have, until nothing else exists. Nothing was important except for that number on the scale each and every night. That number that would mostly make me cry and swear to never eat ever again, but sometimes make me feel proud of myself. Proud of my accomplishments.
Did I mention that I weighed just over 100lbs? I was at 105lbs at my worst, 79lbs at my best and I phrase it like that because that is how it felt. 105 was bad. 79 was better. Not great, not good, solely better. For every lost pound I gave myself a pat on the back, and for every gained pound meant another night of crying myself to sleep. That was my reality. That was my life. And even though this was the path I had chosen, I had never felt so lost. I wasn't questioning my decisions, but I was questioning my fate. Was I really supposed to be crying five nights out of the week? Was I really supposed to be feeling this hopeless? Would these thoughts and feelings go away or was this the price I had to pay to be beautiful? And just as reason and rationality were trying to find a way back in, I was given a sign. A sign to continue, to move forward and past the questioning of my path. I was given a friend. And not just any friend, but a friend who ate and then threw up. Same path, different directions. And just like that, I didn’t feel lost anymore.
She taught me her ways, explained her process and introduced me to a simpler way of living. At least for people like us. Because, don’t get me wrong, we knew that we were different and that this was something that not everybody could or would understand. But bad? No, it wasn’t bad. We were getting happier with every lost pound, so how could it be bad? That we would never truly understand. We didn’t want to understand either. What we wanted was to lose weight.
It took me awhile to get used to her ways, but I actually liked them more than mine. It allowed me to enjoy the best of two worlds; food in every unholy form, and a tiny waist. We became part of this surreal symbiosis, a relationship far from anything I’ve ever experienced or heard of before. We were two people but we were living the exact same life. We experienced the same thoughts and emotions, the same ups and downs. Two people, living as one. We became almost reliant on each other; Needing the other to keep breathing, to keep going. Hand in hand after lunch we would walk towards the bathrooms, almost as if we were excited for what next to come, encouraging text messages back and forth around dinner time, and a shared “drink ONLY water” reminder in the morning. And it hurts me to say, but I was so happy. So extremely happy. I had found someone who understood me and knew exactly what I was going through. Someone who didn’t judge me, but motivated me instead. Someone who cared for me, in the most disturbing ways.
We started spending more and more time together. It was easier that way, but also just reassuring. It felt comforting to have someone on your side. Someone to indulge with, and also throw up with; We would have sleepovers, “binge nights” we called them, were we would go to the grocery store and buy everything we wanted. Chips, ice cream, cookies, you name it. And we would just sit there in her room and eat. Eat and eat and eat and eat, until we could barely sit up straight. That was our cue. Time to drag ourselves to the bathroom and do what we did best. Sometimes it was like I had been born to put my fingers down my throat; I would barely reach in before my eyes started watering and I’d then feel the compulsory movement of food coming up and out of hunched body. I would sit there until every last chunk had left my system and the bitter taste of bile was all I was left with. But other times it wasn’t as easy. My watering eyes would just result in tears and frustration. Anxiety would hit me and the thought of not being able to get the toxins out of my body would make me tense up and panic.”It won’t come up. It won’t come up. It. Won’t. COME UP.” And that is when I needed to ask for help. Because I couldn’t give up, obviously. No, instead she would put her fingers so far down my throat that I sometimes thought I might suffocate and die. Although, that thought only lingered for a blink of a second, until we together would force the evil out of me. And we would be sitting there on the bathroom floor, and she’d wipe my tears away and tell me everything was going to be okay.
We became friends. Close friends. Lovers. And for a brief moment, I thought that would be my life. Just the two of us, her and me. Skinny, happy and in love - in that order.
My parents were out of town and we had planned yet another binge night. I had just left the store when she texted me that her mom wouldn’t let her leave the house, something about having to spend more time with family. And it was weird but for the first time in a really long time, that feeling of being lost came creeping back. I was standing there, plastic bag containing processed fats and sugars in hand, and it just hit me. The most intense anxiety attack I had ever experienced so far, and I just stood there. 5 minutes went by. 10 minutes went by. 30 minutes went by and all I could do was stare at my phone, waiting. Hoping. For her to text me and say that she was on her way, that her mom changed her mind. But the text never came. So I went home, tears rolling down my cheeks as I walked through the door. And I didn’t know what to do. Didn’t know how to deal with the feeling of being lost, or the anxiety, or just the fact that I needed her. I needed her. Somewhere along the way I had completely forgotten about myself. Or I no longer mattered. I just felt as if I owed her my life, for everything that she had done for me.
I started eating. Everything. Literally turning the chips bag inside-out so I could get the last few crumbs hiding in the corners at the bottom. Left nothing, no evidence. This was the first and only time I cried my entire way through the eating. Sweet, savory and some salty tears. But no amount of food could make up for how empty I felt inside. Believe me, if it could have it would have, that’s how much I ate that night.
I don’t even remember walking to the bathroom. I just remember a blurry vision of sitting hunched over the toilet, fingers down my throat. Acidity and a subtle taste of chocolate ice cream. Pieces of chips poking my throat on their way back up. And then, the thing I remember the most and will never forget, the overwhelming taste of blood.
No part of me had understood how much damage I was causing my body. I had never even wanted to understand. But it is hard to avoid when you are looking at the evidence straight in the eye. Or in toilet, in my case. There was so much blood. The lingering taste of iron combined with bile. I threw up again, without even wanting to this time. More blood. I flushed, thinking that if I couldn’t see it then it hadn’t happened. That I could deny it and just keep doing what I had been doing for so long. But even though I had gotten rid of the evidence, the image of blood covered vomit would forever haunt me. I was in shock. Slightly confused. But more than anything, I was really really scared. And laying in bed, crying once again, I knew what I had to do. I had to stop. It was either that, or it was going to stop me. And it took way longer than I care to admit but that was the night I decided that I’d rather be a fat but old corpse than a young and skinny one. I made myself a promise that night, to change. To stop hurting myself.
Everyones rehabilitation is different. It is a lot of work and commitment and downs. Not that many ups, really, just a steady flow of downs. It took me a little over two years to win a battle that I thought I had already lost. Maybe “win” isn’t the right word, although I do think taking myself from where I was to where I am should be considered a win. But I still have ways to go. I’m back to 105lbs. And I’m happy with that. I wouldn’t even mind a few more pounds. Gaining the weight back is the easy part. It’s gaining the strength to do it that is hard.
Today it has been almost 7 years. 7 years since that one night that changed everything. And I haven’t broken my promise. At least not yet.
- i think i have some interesting thoughts