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Body Week: Reflections

November 4, 2010

Today I faced the most difficult decision yet and it has left me mentally exhausted. It wasn’t over what I’d wear to the school dance, or even which college to attend. In this decision I was the protagonist and antagonist—me against myself.

Today I stared at a toilet and decided whether or not to force myself to throw up.  Yes, bulimia. The term seemed to eerily echo through me. As I stood there, for what seemed like a lifetime, my heartbeat nearly tripled and I shook uncontrollably. Arguments defending both options circulated through my head. My stomach did hurt, because I had stuffed myself to full capacity after a long day of not eating, so it WOULD help me feel better. But on the other hand, WHAT WAS I THINKING!? How could I resort to that? To be skinny…? Was it worth it? Did I really just let the little things my parents, coaches, friends, and media say GET TO ME? No, I was stronger than that. Or was I? Was I going to go through with it and be mentally weak? Does that make me weak? Or was I mentally strong because I could do it? Because I could overcome my lifelong fear and hatred of throwing up and be strong; working toward and succeeding a goal? Is the strength in the refusal or the fulfillment?

As you can tell, most of my arguments were made of questions, as if someone were there to answer them! But it was me and only me. And for once, I was solely alone, a feeling I’m not quite used to. No one was there to tell on me, or rub my back, or wipe my tears, or even slap me across the face—a punishment half of me felt I needed.  And at that thought, even more questions rushed in: what am I waiting for? It’s only once right? Am I like those girls we learn about in health class? Would I be just another statistic? Or could I be better than that? Stronger than them? All these thoughts within about a 7 minute period.

Still shaking, I knelt to the floor, tied back my hair, flipped up the toilet seat, and hit the next roadblock: actually following through with it. My hands tightly gripped the edge of the toilet bowl. My arms rigid. My mind circling around and around the arguments trying to find something concrete to fully convince me to do it—and yet trying to find some hole with which to stop myself. The battle didn’t cease.

The minutes seemed to tick by slower as my heart sped up. NO ONE WOULD KNOW! JUST DO IT! NOW! Internally yelling at myself to follow through. Hoping—PRAYING!—that in some tiny instance my mind would take a break and my impulse would follow through…and the struggle will end. Then, I could deal with the repercussions. AFTER. No matter what my reaction might be. It would be over.

Then I gathered my strength.

And I got up and walked away. 

February 5, 2015

That decision never got easier as I faced the same situation, over and over and over again. Mind vs. Body.  In hindsight I don’t see how I could will myself to violate such basic needs as sustenance and health, but I just couldn’t convince myself to take a safer route toward my goal weight.

I just didn’t have it in me. I couldn’t fight that fight.

Eventually, I couldn’t get off my knees. I couldn’t walk away. Eventually, I learned to swallow my fear and bury my voice. The end goal was worth it. That’s what I would say.

It’s like when you train for a sport. Your training kills you—you muscles ache, your throat burns—there’s no hell like being out of breath and feeling as if you’re a block of lead. I retract that statement—there’s worse hell. But back to my point: you train so you can be successful.

Pain now. Gain later. Right? That’s what I was doing. Preparing myself for success.

I was smart enough to know when to stop. I wasn’t like those other girls; there was no downward spiral in my future. Just my fingers down my throat now. And a perfect body soon. And voila! All the criticism I lived with every day would be gone and I would know peace. That’s all I wanted. Peace of mind and to be fucking proud of the body I walk around in because I couldn’t remember the last time I felt that pride. That comfort.

Peace and comfort.

But that never came. I became even more tormented and ashamed of myself. It’s not even like anyone noticed. They didn’t care enough to notice. The way it worked in my household was: look good, compete well, and get good grades, and you have earned the privilege of being left alone, maybe receiving the occasional compliment about how “all your work is really paying off and you look really good!” Yeah. Hard work.

I began to resent those comments. Those side-glances paired with proud smiles. I began to resent my mother, my coach, or anyone who concerned themselves with my weight. But even worse, I began to resent myself and what I let them do to me—no—what I let me do to me. In all fairness, they didn’t know. They trusted the girl they knew to make good life decisions for herself. But that girl’s screams were stifled and silent. She had lost control.

I don’t blame them. Not anymore; that’s not fair to them.

A recovered bulimic. I guess that’s my title. And maybe forgiveness is just a step toward recovery. Of recovery.

I guess what I’m trying to put out there is a PSA of sorts. To those fighting the same battle I did, I have no clue how to beg you to find your strength or your self-love. It took me years. I know your place and your position and your pain. The endless pain. The constant ache for an end, with no end in sight. To this day I have no clue how I gained back my voice and my strength to walk away. But I urge you to find yours. Because that peace and comfort you’re aiming for doesn’t come from your reflection or a number on a scale. (Screw scales.)

Just take it from me, you’re leagues closer to peace when you aren’t battling your body like that everyday. All day. I’m getting there and you’ll get there.

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