I remember the ebb and the flow of fear. I was that girl. Normalcy on the outside, but inside, frenzy was ravaging. The hunger was painful. I might have chosen death over the hunger. I remember breaking down on the floor of the Target frozen-food section, tears welling in my eyes over mini cheesecakes, bags of sugary granola, icy lasagna, Healthy Choice frozen dinners, or really anything edible… The freedom to eat was foreign to me. I became a puppet in my own mind. Strings were attached to my limbs, jerked about by the paranoia which thrived within me. I let it consume my every thought. I attempted to write about it… I remember writing mostly about shame. I couldn’t hide from the shame. It took form in numbers, and raced through my brain. Numbers in the nutrition facts, red numbers glowing on the scale. Numbers in the minuscule crumbs that I desperately gathered and ate off of my plate after every meal, in the apples which I devoured to the skeletal core, in my classmates’ leftover bread crusts that I stared longingly at, before unwillingly dumping them in the trash can to avoid temptation.
I remember myself…that girl who painted a sideways smile on her face while clutching a butter-pecan ice-cream cone. Normalcy? A girl who strung her bones with lies. I remember that reflection in the mirror, and oddly enough I still ache for it. I ache to be that size again…though when I was that size, all I saw was the tiny bit of “excess” fat above my elbows, and my “massive” upper arms, and, and, and…
Sadly, I would not have been happy until I wasted away to skeletal remains. I don’t understand why. And even now, years later, I still dream of being those “skeletal remains”, even though it’s sick. And unrealistic. I still pine for low numbers on the scale…the scale that I simultaneously dreaded and anxiously awaited stepping on.
I wished (and still wish) that I could be happy with myself. And I feel like it will worsen over the years. I may never feel comfortable in my skin.
I recall the irony of my binges. This girl (the girl that I was) was skinny, yet during binges she ate as if she had never eaten before. Exhilaration and the peculiarity of actually placing food in my mouth freely. But the shame infiltrated my soul, blooming, bursting into paroxysms of paranoia. I told myself I’d avoid the scale, yet, I couldn’t stay away. After my binges I tried to purge countless times, but failed in my efforts. Shame. I grasped for “normalcy”, but it was always out of my reach. I pictured the normalcy as a star, a brilliant ditty of hope among a mass of blackness…so close, yet so far.
But really, truly, what is normal? I suppose I didn’t exactly want normal, I just wanted a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and the mirror…
I remember reading about people a bit heavier than I, with Body Mass Indexes higher than mine, smiling on magazine pages next to their weight-loss success stories. I envied these people. I envied Valerie Bertinelli. Yes, her height and weight ratio was higher than mine at the time, but she was happy, comfortable. (Or so it seemed anyway.) I longed for that. Even after losing almost forty pounds, I still believed that it was not nearly enough. I craved lower numbers, thirsted for them. Delusion clouded my eyes, that unrealistic number. I still long for that number, in the core of me…
If eating disorders had a metaphor, that metaphor would be a porcelain doll.
A porcelain doll is smooth, perfect, and fragile on the outside. But one cannot live as a porcelain doll, frozen in a porcelain prison.
Camille was a porcelain doll before she ever realized it. She painted her lips shut with rosy pink lies, left her glassy eyes wide to disillusions. Anorexia was a stranger’s skin, crawling, tingling with desperation. But she couldn’t scream within her porcelain prison.
I was never beautiful, but my exterior was so fragile, painstakingly crafted and pieced together, a pleasant expression etched on my face. My eyes were broken, chipped away.
The outside appearance was normal, a paper cut-out of a girl…but inside chaos ravaged, noise and flashing lights. I pictured my mind as a pinball machine. I was frozen inside the madness.
I don’t remember a specific day when I began to break free from the porcelain shell…
I know that finally being honest helped. I was a lie for a long time. But confiding in someone about my hidden struggle released me from the puppet strings a bit.
There’s a quote that I love, that’s short and simple, but it helped me:
“Life itself is the proper binge.” – Julia Child
I’m not entirely sure how to end this blog entry. It’s the longest one I’ve ever written, as there is so much I could share on this topic. (But I doubt anyone is actually going to read this whole thing.) Eating disorders have affected me. My heart has been set ablaze. I am forever changed. But even through my struggle, I can’t help but feel fortunate, almost, that I glimpsed into that particular world. Many, many people do not understand it, as eating disorders are so complex.
My heart is forever a blazing fire.
So, I’m finally going to conclude this post. I just want to say…stay strong. Stay BE-YOU-tiful. And speak up…don’t be afraid to be honest. Don’t be afraid to get help. Don’t be afraid to share your story.