Only a few years ago did I spend countless hours huddled around the only thing I thought loved me.
Digging my nails so deep into my side, I still have some scars to show those brave enough to look into a past I’m too ashamed of. Or maybe I’m not ashamed anymore? Maybe I’m just scared that if I look too closely I’ll still see parts of that self in myself today.
See the girl who couldn’t walk into a Panera without spinning out of control. Grasping desperately to the fat on my bones so I could keep my feet steady. This world seemed to move too fast. I didn’t know what I wanted but in as fast as it took to burn, I realized that my life was already decided.
In the deepest hours of the night, I’d get up and stumble into the bathroom. Groggy, uncertain of the shadows creeping alongside me. I tried as hard as I could to avert my eyes from the reflection but each night I caught a glimpse of a future I knew was waiting for me. I saw something I wanted alongside everything I didn’t. I saw a future drowning in toxins I didn’t want to have inside of me anymore.
I saw him standing there. His arms plastered against my skin. Turning the brown into a white so translucent I began to bleed. The color in my face draining with each second we stayed together. The life I’d feel from the job I imagined would be drained the moment I saw him. The moment I saw any of those hims. I saw those eyes, her eyes, begging me to take control while I could.
But that was too much to deal with. Too much for my seventeen-year-old mind to handle. Not when I was getting assigned engagement projects by our Religion teacher in high school. Literally writing my future into existence. Picking a senior quote for the yearbook from the song we called ours once upon a time. Plastering memories of high school with a boy I knew would never make it out of this alive.
I wasn’t going to make it out of this alive.
I wasn’t sure when, but I felt death creeping closer. By no one’s hand but my own. I began to fantasize about that day. Wonder what it’d feel like to be free of this suffocation. What it’d feel like to just jump off the ledge I always felt drawn to. I know I didn’t have wings and I couldn’t fly but would that really kill me? More than the life I was living then?
So I buried myself in a mountain of distractions so tall they came crashing down. Brick by brick, I piled them on top of me. Desperate for something else to focus on. And then it came, the feel of my stomach rolling on top of my jeans. The sight of my thighs touching one another. The lack of the collar bone in pictures. The jokes from loved ones. The jeans that were now too small. The shirts that hugged the parts I didn’t want. The dress zippers that broke. The toes I couldn’t see in the shower.
This was the issue. This was the real problem here. This was something I could control. If I just finished this week-long fast, that would be enough. That would get me a few pounds closer. That would push me closer to a finish line where at least one thing would be okay. A life where I’d have at least the body of my dreams if I couldn’t be in my dream. If I had to live this lie and feel myself disintegrate in the fire I set in my chest, I’d at least look damn good on the outside.
The endless string of ways to expunge the meals I’d eat, scarf away, was something I couldn’t figure out how to quit. It was the love affair I never had. The one I had always wanted. The passion, the fire. The unpredictability. One second it seemed to hate me, make me hate me. Break the mirrors in hopes of cutting myself apart.
The next, we were in a heated tango. Tangled up within each other’s love. They’d tell me sweet nothings, whisper them into my hair the morning after. It was always this hot and cold type of thing. There was nothing stable but then again what else in life was?
And then the most exciting part of all: secrecy. The hush-hush nature of us. It kept the fire burning, the sexy alive. “No one can ever know,” he’d whisper. “Not even her. Especially not her.”
Even as I lay on that floor, cold and shaking, he’d tell me that one day this would all be worth it. That he loved me and that he was the only one who ever would. That he was the saving grace I’d been praying for all those nights before. That this was the escape I so desperately craved. That despite what I was telling myself, he was the one keeping me alive.
I grew so used to this comfort, this destruction in one that I leaned on him for another ten years before I saw him for what he was.
But not before he took away so many parts I just want back.
So many parts I’m tired of hunting down.
So many parts I’ll never find again.
Blood drained down the pipes of Boston College. Tears eating away at the memories.
I don’t want that anymore.
I didn’t really want it then.
I screamed so loud once, when no one was home. Careful that no one would hear. But so desperate for someone to listen. I screamed. With everything left in my lungs, I let it out. It was primal. Fulfilling. Terrifying.
It echoed in my ears and I remember how quickly he came running in. Quick to pull me into his arms. Rock me back and forth. Wiping the bile away from my lips, the sweat from my forehead. Singing sweet lullabies into my ears. He looked so kind in those moments. He felt so warm. Like he was the only one who could understand.
But then I’d be right back on my knees, purging out more and more until I couldn’t see my reflection in the water anymore.
Because nothing was uglier than that. Nothing made me want to stop. Nothing gave me the energy I needed to push that tooth brush further and further back. Even if I heard her trying with the little voice she had to stop me. To pull that brush away from the fingers slipping on its rubber.
She was drowned out by him by tenfold. She didn’t stand a chance without me wanting to give her one. I didn’t want anything to do with her.
I wanted him and his distractions and his world of could-be-if-only-x. I wanted that fantasy he promised. The happily ever after he said we’d have together. I didn’t want to have to start this all over with someone else. Re-examine the life I was running away from. Dig into the wounds I only made deeper, wider with every trip to the bathroom, with every sip of those drinks.
He was the only thing I knew I could count on. The only thing I could hold onto.
But thinking back to that time, I can see I wasn’t holding onto him at all. I wasn’t holding onto anything. I was flying through this world. Frantic and afraid. Blind without a clue as to how much I couldn’t see.
I hated food.
I hated food because it was easier to hate than to face the hell I was walking straight into.
It was easier to hate than to love someone I was taught to despise.
Who would love me? Who could?
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