The little dial spins slowly, click-click-click. Even though it's warm out, near 40 degrees, I push the dial until it reaches the highest setting. If it has nothing else, my next car will have heated seats.
My mum slides into the SVU next to me, hands grip the steering wheel. Like synchronized divers, we both reach for our seat-belts. In my family, the car doesn't start until everyone is properly strapped in. Having a nurse for a mother means adhering to certain safety standards. The engine rumbles to life and degree-by-degree the leather under my thighs grows warm. I sigh with pleasure and rearrange my skirt for maximum leg coverage.
The house in front of us grows smaller as we back out of the driveway, glide down the street. I watch the pastel balloons, tied to porch railing, flap in the wind. Why does everyone insist on using pastel colors for a baby shower? I want my color theme to be bold and bright and full of life. Not washed out and dull.
The mother-to-be seemed pleased. It was a fun party. The food choices were healthy - a small pile of fruit and raw veggies sit happy in my stomach. The party games were unobtrusive but fun - all were crafty or quick.
In one month, there will be a new addition to the family. That my brother is reproducing seems surreal, though I've had seven months to prepare. I wonder if I'll ever be at the point where I feel ready for children. It's not that I don't want children (I do, very much) or that I'm not financially stable (both Penguin and I have very good jobs). I am of an appropriate age (late-twenties) and I live in a clean, safe neighborhood with a good school district. Hell, I even have a man who wants to reproduce with me and I him. It should be no shocker why I hesitate.
How do I stay healthy, keep the fetus healthy, with an ED? How do I take care of a child when my ED demands so much of my free time?
As if she were reading my mind, my mum says, "Did you see Misty [the daughter of a close family friend]? She's lost a lot of weight. I guess she ballooned after she recovered from bulimia."
Startled, I ask, "Misty was bulimic?"
Mum looks over at me, eyebrows raised. "You remember when she disappeared for a year? Her parents sent her down to rehab in Montana, near her grandparents. Sad thing, I guess she was bulimic all through high school. I thought you knew."
I frown and looked down at my hands.
My mother's words burrow into my brain. "It sounds like bulimia almost killed her. I can't imagine how she developed an eating disorder, she comes from such a good family. She and her brother were such high achievers growing up."
Without thinking, I add, "Eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of any mental illness."
Mom responds, eyes still on the road. "Really? I didn't know that."
I shake my head. Just a little. She's a nurse and yet she knows nothing about eating disorders. Most people don't. It's frustrating and disheartening, and I so badly want a culture change. This is the reason I can't tell her about my own ED. My parent's will think they did something wrong. They will think they broke me. They will think I am broken.
Every once in a while I think I should confide in someone. I've not met anyone who was able to recover without support. Conversations like this make me glad I kept my mouth shut. I don't want to be the girl people talk about. That poor girl. That dysfunctional girl. That weak, stupid, fat girl.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I grab a protein bar off the shelf, pouring over the nutrition label. Strict standards must be adhered to: one gram of protein per 10 calories. My teeth grab at my lower lip, a look of concentration creasing a line between my eyes. This is serious stuff. After reviewing several more brands, I decide on an old standard. With a sigh, I toss a handful of bars into the cart.
Next is the snack food aisle. A quick glance finds the cheapest treats. Even on sale, the national brands can't compare to the store brands. Two bags of cookies for less than three dollars. I don't even look at the nutrition label.
My mind wanders as I pick through the apples. Each one carefully inspected for discoloration, bruising or broken skin. One, two, three, four... into a plastic bag, twisted and tied.
On the way to the checkout stand, I swing through frozen foods. A shiver tingles up my spine as I open the freezer door to grab a box of chicken nuggets. The little pseudo-chicken bits are on sale for $1.30 an ounce. As an afterthought I throw a bag of frozen curly fries on top of the pile. Those too are on sale.
I'm giddy as I slide each item across the scanner. Self-checkouts have made my shopping experience much more pleasant. No more shame about my purchases. No more wondering if the store clerk is thinking me a fat, fat, fatty for buying cookies and fried food.
My mind flips with ease between ordered and disordered thinking. It no longer seems strange to shop for binge eating and for normal eating in the same grocery store trip. My mind categorizes food as it falls into my basket. Cookies are for binging. Apples are for fuel. Each category has it's rules and restrictions, drastically different for each. Tricks to make myself feel in control.
During the day I eat like a sane person. I fill up on produce and lean meats. If a coworker brings a treat to share, I partake in normal portions. I snack on healthy bits when I am hungry and never skip a meal.
During the night I eat until I feel sick. Then I purge until I feel empty again.
It's not even about weight anymore. I haven't stepped on a scale in well over a month. Some days I feel like I've gained 20 pounds. The next day it feels like my clothes hang off my frame. Surely I am wasting away. Surely I am an enormous cow. Back and forth, more confused than a ping-pong ball.
I am so tired. So sick. So done.