Friday, July 27, 2012

My Body Gallery

Have you heard of A friend recommended it to me.  I suppose everyone will use it differently.  It has the potential to be an excellent source of inspiration or a cruel reality check.  Your choice.

My abandonment issues have been given a reprieve.  My Penguin, who was supposed to leave early this morning, won’t be flying out for two more days.  This means I’ll have the whole weekend with him.  Thinking he was going to be gone, I packed my schedule with activities to stop myself from crawling into bed depressed.  As a habit, I don’t cancel plans without VERY good reason, so I guess this means Penguin will be tagging along. 

I’m going on a ten mile hike with my family tomorrow.  This will mark the first time Penguin has seen them since we started dating.  Maybe it won’t go as badly as I think.  My parents have scared away more than a few boyfriends with their odd behavior and frank questions.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Last Night

I text Penguin after work to see what his plans are for the evening.  I thought, like me, he would want to spend as much time together as possible before he flies far away.  It is raining outside, pouring.  No evening hike for me.  I avoid exercising in the rain whenever possible.  The risk of chaffing is too high.  Unless, of course, it’s been a couple days since my last outdoor adventure; I’ll choose sanity over skin every time. 

While waiting for a response from Penguin I hook up the PS3 and press the play button for P90X Kenpo.  My fists cut through the air, punching sticky ghosts of hunger and pain and frustration.

I crawl into bed for a nap.  It’s 6:30 and he hasn’t called.  My mind is restless.  Every rustle of sheet becomes the sound of tires on gravel.  Every fat drop of rain, slapping on wood, a footstep.  I tell myself he would call before coming over.  He would check to see if I was home first.  It doesn’t work.

At 7:30 I turn on my Wii, a perfect distraction.  I’m obsessed with the new Zelda, Skyward Sword.  It has replaced Ocarina of Time as my favorite in the series.  Yup, I’m a nerd.

7:45, I find myself in the kitchen.  I am not hungry, but my hands don’t listen.  They prepare a pickle sandwich: one piece of bread slathered in mustard wrapped around a kosher dill.  I know it will set off a binge, but I take a bite anyway.  Chew, swallow.  Chew, swallow.  Chew.  Swallow.  Next is a black bean patty, covered in salsa -- extra spicy.  My lips burn as I put forkful after forkful into my mouth.  I taste nothing. My traitor hands reach for the raspberry truffle cookies.  They shouldn’t be there, sitting on my counter beckoning.  I should have delivered them last night, gotten them far from my kitchen.  I break off a piece, place it on my tongue and stop.  My stomach is already full, distended -- too many days of fasting and restricting have shrunk the organ.  I spit the bite of cookie into my hand.  Throw it and the rest of the greasy, sugary treat away.  I do not want this. 

At 9:00 I give up hearing from Penguin and swallow four Nyquil capsules.  Enough to make my head swim and my body collapse.  Getting a prescription for sleeping pills is not an option.  My doctor would ask too many questions.

Penguin calls at 9:30.  He assures me that he wanted to return my text earlier but said if he had, he’d have blown off packing to spend time with me.  I don’t know if I believe him.  He always has an excuse for his inconsiderate behavior.  We both know he is a terrible boyfriend, but neither of us do anything to change. 

He arrives at 10:20.  Just in time for bed.  I think I am a booty call.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Today a coworker asked how I stay so skinny. 

A plate of cookies sit on the break room table.  Our fiscal officer is masticating a raspberry truffle; everyone in the room except me has a treat in their hand.  She doesn’t bother to swallow before asking the question and it catches me off guard. The word tastes funny on my ears.  Skih-nee.  Skin - ee.  Skin  -  knee.  No one has ever put me and that word in the same sentence before.  I don’t know how to react.  I smile.  On the inside I am cringing.  It’s true my body has been changing, fat melting away to reveal collar and rib and hip bones.  Slick muscle.  But there is still so much of me.  Too much.  The boiling yellow and white is swallowing me whole.  Smothering me.  Choking me.

That my pencil-skirt, once skin tight, can now be slipped off without undoing the clasp means nothing.  It is an embarrassing, obscene size.  Made from a tent’s worth of material.  The needle on the scale keeps drifting down, but the number is never small enough.  I am never small enough.

Sometimes I wonder if this will ever end.  If there will ever be a perfect size.  A weight where I feel skinny, perfect.

I will have to stop binging to find out.  Impossible.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Realistic Goals

I set a personal speed record today.  Ten miles up a steep valley (well, five miles up, five miles down) in under three hours!  It was storming for most of the hike, so I got soaked and chilled to the bone.  Oh, and I wiped out at one point so my right leg is covered in road rash.  But otherwise it was a lot of fun.  Perfect, even.  The sun came out and said hello just as I reached the tarn.

But that’s not really what I want to talk about in this post.  I’ve had an epiphany and I think I’d like to share it with you.

There was a girl at the movies that caught my eye.  She was tiny, emaciated, legs-as-thin-as-my-arms, and it didn’t send me into a jealous fit.  I looked at her, and while I thought she looked fine, I had no urge to be her.  I think I'm starting to develop a rational, achievable body image goal.  I don’t want to be waifish.  I want to be fit.  Yay, me?

Even though at times I make huge leaps backward in my struggle toward recovery, it still feels really good to take small steps forward.  They add up, those baby steps.  In the end I know they will bring me to exactly where I need to be.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Don't Eat the Cookies

I made cookies from scratch.  Three different kinds: peanut butter cup, chocolate lovers and raspberry truffle.  Too much dough makes its way into my mouth -- enough to form a whole cookie.  Dinner is a cup of tea in compensation.  Usually I have more will power, but I am preoccupied.  Not sure with what, hormones maybe. 

Penguin sneaks through the front door just as I am putting the last sheet in the oven.  He comes up behind me, wraps his arms around my waist and buries his face in the nape of my neck.  I trade a kiss for a cookie.  Watching the smile spread over his face as he takes the first bite is far more enjoyable than actually eating one myself.  I clean the kitchen as he snags another cookie, then another.  One of each kind.  If I ate like him I’d weigh 300 pounds.

Seventeen minutes later I pull the gooey, delicious, horrible-for-you creations out of the oven and set them on the stove.  Want to know the secret to perfect cookies?  Add ½ - 1 cup extra flour to the dough, undercook them by about two minutes and then let them cool on the pan, not a rack.  Doing so keeps the center moist and chewy while the bottom continues to brown so they don’t fall apart.  The most important step is to not eat any

The remaining 100+ cookies already sit divided into Tupperware: one for my parents, one for my brother and his girlfriend, a plate for work and a giant container for Penguin.  Enough to last 90 days.  Oh yes.  Maybe that has something to do with my preoccupation.  He is leaving.  In three days.  For three months.  For 90 days.  For 2,160 hours.  For 129,600 minutes. 

NO.  I will not do this.  I am NOT that girl. 

I notice the grease stains spreading out beneath each cookie.  Soaking into the butcher paper placed carefully between each layer, striations of fat and carbs and heart-hammering because there is so much sugar.  I put the lid on each container, sealing in the curls of yum, yum, yum that waft off them. 

Penguin never asks why I don’t eat my own baked goods.  I assume it’s because I am fat, fat, fat.  He’d never say it, but I know I am not his type: not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not… enough.  He talks constantly about body image, how so-and-so is looking rather hefty these days.  How his ex-wife’s sister is developing manly forearms from all the weight lifting.  How his friend’s thighs now rub together.  Fat.  Wrong.  Bad.

I listen to all the reasons I am not good enough.  I wonder why I do this to myself. 

It doesn’t matter.  I will think only happy thoughts.  Today was a good day.  Any day I get to bake and then go for a six mile hike is a good day. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Weekend for My Obsessions

Last week was given over to my obsessions.  I did nothing but hike and binge.  Quite literally, I was either outside exploring new territory or stuffing my face with food.  I’m afraid to see how much weight I’ve gained.  I don’t think it’s more than a pound or so, but I’m still disappointed in myself.  Only I could take a week of hiking at least eight miles a day and turn it into a negative event. 

At this point all I can do it look toward the future.  Today is shiny and new.  Today I will be better.

Monday, July 2, 2012

On a Whim

Yesterday I climbed a mountain on a whim. 

While working on my yard, I noticed the peak nearest my house was covered in a thick white blanket stretching halfway to the earth.  I was suddenly overwhelmed with an intense urge to hike in mist and cloud.  Penguin and I drove the short way to the trailhead, starting the trek with nothing more sophisticated than the sweatshirt on my back and a water bottle in his hand.  Once on top, legs swollen, bodies screaming, we lay in a small valley overlooking the inlet.  Nestled against the curve of his body, head resting on the flat plane of his chest, I felt a peace that has eluded me for a long time.  Just before we rose to stumble our way downhill, the sun peeked out and sat warm on my cheek, a perfect kiss to remind me that I am alive and loved.

I will hold onto this moment.  I will not let the dark encroach.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

You Know that Feeling When You're About to Jump?

The scale terrifies me. 

Everyone and everything (non-ED advice, obviously) tells you to weigh yourself regularly to monitor weight loss progress.  I can’t do it.  I won’t do it.  I haven’t stepped on a scale in almost a month.

They tell you that the number doesn’t matter, but it does.  They tell you the scale can’t measure self-worth, but sometime I let it.  If the number is too high, I become numb.  My life is sunk.  I did wrong.  I am not good enough: for my family, for my boyfriend, for life.

If the number is too low I am elated.  Walking on air.  And straight to the kitchen.  It always leads to a binge and I don’t know why, or how to stop.

If the number is the same.  If it is the same.  If I am the same.  That is the worst.  It means that all the pain and hunger and suffering I experienced, the strength I showed, was for nothing.  I am nothing. 

Logically speaking, I know that our weight fluctuates daily and just because the needle goes up does not mean I’m not making forward progress.  It could be that I retained water or gained muscle or… 

Logically speaking I should have a healthy relationship with food. 

Logically speaking…

But our EDs aren’t logical.  If they were, we would have a quick fix.  A one-size-fits-all solution.  An answer to our puzzle.  What a joke.

Best case scenario, the scale shows me the exact number I am expecting.  It is not too high.  It is not too low and it is definitely not the same.  Then I can continue my flat existence, feeling a small iota of relief.  Today I am okay.  Just right.  But tomorrow I will be unknown or too heavy or too light or too…  And it will start again.  It always starts again.