I have fought my battles with anorexia and bulimia, ending up in a category called EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). I went through therapy and came out clean on the other side, but I will admit that there will be fleeting moments where I will think how easy it would be just not to eat, or feel that I ate too much and I could fix that easily (which is how I fell into bulimia in the first place). But I also remember the extreme loathing and hatred I had of myself, and the hospital trip when I had to admit to the nurse, in front of my mother, that I had a history of eating disorders.
I wrote this to share with you the agony of what a smaller waist might mean to someone who is struggling with an eating disorder.
It could be just one moment, one word, one sentence, to set you off.
Thinking, knowing, understanding, that you have upset someone which in turn upsets you which in turn upsets someone else.
You feel like a right asshole now, don’t you? A failure.
Yes, you’re a failure.
You. Are. A. Failure.
The tears become unstoppable, the pain wells up. You know that pain, you remember that pain. It’s a weird, achy, full but hollow pain. It’s everywhere.
You feel it spreading everywhere.
Your hair hurts.
“Fucking cunt.” You mouth at yourself in the mirror, eyes dark with rage.
Self-loathing. Oh, the self-loathing is surrounding you.
You reach for things that may quash that loathing temporarily, shove it down into the pit of your stomach.
Bread and butter and sugar and pizza and grease and alcohol to wash it all down with.
Lots of alcohol because you know what’s coming next, don’t you, and the buzz will make it hurt just a little bit less.
In the midst of chewing, butter dripping down your chin, you slap yourself in the face as hard as you can.
Relish that pain. Feel how it spreads out and sharpens the hatred you have of yourself.
You remember the days where you lived on coffee and cigarettes and maybe half a bagel torn up into little bits so you could savor it longer.
You remember how it felt to be asked when you had the baby because you looked so great.
You were never pregnant.
The collarbones were glorious.
It was so much easier just not eating. Just not anything.
You finish the fifth, eighth, tenth, you’ve lost count, piece of bread and the hundredth swallow of whatever is was you poured in that glass.
Swipe the butter off your face as you walk into the bathroom and close the door.
Glare at yourself in the mirror.
Slap the other cheek. Do it again.
Vomit gloriously until your abdominal muscles cramp up and it feels like you are coughing up your toes.
“First in, last out.”
Do it one more time. Retch until that pain that you’ve been harboring all night has settled into a pool of bile.
Wipe off your face. Rinse your mouth.
You’re not allowed to feel anything anymore tonight.