Monday, February 29, 2016

"First in, last out." [Trigger warning]

I was reading about Cheryl Tiegs and her comments about a woman who was modeling a bathing suit on Sports Illustrated. Something about a small waist means health. It was posted on Facebook by a few friends of mine as well, and was greatly upsetting to several woman that responded, including myself. While she has evidently since apologized, it stuck with me for awhile that a smaller waist does not necessarily mean good health.

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.

In 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.

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1 comment:

  1. I have heard that before but, in the context of a medical health surveillance appointment. A SRS doctor told my son, then 20 years old, that excessive abdominal girth (i.e., extra belly fat) is a risk factor for dementia. He made it sound as if it was gender specific to males. My son did not know how to process that. The same physician later told him, "no, you are FAT" when he good naturedly admitted, "I know I am a bit stocky, Dr. H___". The physician did my son a disservice in his delivery of the message. People with extra weight already know it is unhealthy. Someone who wants to help does not share ominous correlations of maladies that await. Instead, that person (and I dare suggest it should be a healthcare professional who has established rapport and trust with that patient) should offer encouraging solutions and inspire resolve toward a healthier lifestyle all around, not just focused on diet and exercise, either. Health encompasses mental and emotional health as well. Being happy. Sleeping well and waking rested. Having successful meaningful relationships. Self actualization. Setting and accomplishing goals. Contributing to nurturing others and enriching their lives--not just fellow humans, but fellow creatures. For me, advocating for the unborn, rescuing loving animals who have been discarded or mistreated, and providing good care as well as comfort to my patients are just a few examples.