So I’m sitting here picking off the bright pink polish from my nails, then chewing them and spitting out the little bits and pieces of, well, me. Which is exactly what IT has been doing all day long—chewing me up and spitting me out.
The antithesis to yesterday when the family drove up to Presque Isle for a day at the beach. A lovely day. The kids spent hours dragging driftwood across the sand; they braved the frigid lake waters; and I even ate a sandwich for lunch: turkey and cheese on Christopher’s homemade sourdough. Though to be honest, IT made a break for it and tried to convince me to dig a hole in the sand and purge. (A pathetic reversal of my kids’ sand-castling). Christopher was snoozing; it would have been so easy and effortless; instead, I tipped my face up to the sun and tried to concentrate on being warm, on the gleeful shrieks of my kids, on a day thus far unmarred by restricting or purging. A benediction of sorts.
Nasty IT. As if to make up for missed opportunities, IT insisted I skip breakfast today. Oh, yes, I assured Christopher that I would eat, and I even served myself up a half portion that I intended to dump down the drain, but then he caught me and that was that. Full portion while he watched my every bite. IT didn’t like that. IT grew resentful and angry. Crazy thoughts: if I was alone (i.e., not married, no kids) then I wouldn’t have to eat. If I didn’t eat, I could die. And of course, that’s what IT wants. Me floating down the river à la Ophelia.
Later, when I told Dr. B. that I had “difficulty” this morning with breakfast, he said, “I had a feeling about that.” He left the room and returned with a container of yogurt and an orange. “My lunch,” he said. “Now yours.”
“I don’t understand why I have to eat breakfast twice,” I said. “And that orange is the size of a soccer ball.”
“We eat to live,” Dr. B. said. “When IT tells you not to eat, what do you do?”
“Eat more,” I said, unhappily.
To IT, more, any more than the rigid restriction means BINGE. An extra ¼ cup of yogurt? A handful of pretzel nuggets? A naked celery stick (no Ranch)? Horrifying excess. That orange and container of yogurt before me on the table might as well have been one of those thirty-foot buffet troughs filled with pizza and corndogs and Fettuccini Alfredo, and there I was, plate piled high, stuffing my fat face, cheese sauce smeared on my lips.
An orange. Aren’t oranges what athletes eat during practices and games? Mostly water. Can’t I eat an orange? But that’s 85 calories. And the yogurt at 110 calories? That equals 2 miles on the treadmill and I can’t go running today so I’m stuck with it, all of it, and it will probably stick to my ass and thighs. It will stick. And I am stuck. I know this. I am hopeless mired in the Eating Disorder today and IT is in control.
The last time I was at Dr. B.’s? I had to bring a BIG breakfast with me and eat with him. Yogurt but also a Cinnamon Crunch bagel, the size of a Frisbee, with mountain of cream cheese. I was embarrassed buying all that food. I finally managed to eat it and then Dr. B. pulled out plastic wire ties and anchored my arm to a chair—for 2 hours. No way to purge, nowhere to go but to sit, silently, with myself. This should have been terrifying. Instead, it was the most peaceful two hours I’ve spent in a long, long time. I literally gave up control, yielded all choice, all will(fullness). And what I discovered, is that without the exhaustion of the constant negotiation with IT, IT was relatively quiet. I had a reprieve.
Not this time. After breakfast #2, Christopher persuaded me that lunch was up next since I had to eat with him now, and not later, when I was alone and likely to skip or purge. “We’re going to eat IT into submission,” he said. So, a tuna sandwich. 420 calories. Terrifying addition to the ever-increasing calorie count.
And now, I’ve just returned from the dietician and feel shattered. The appointment began with a weigh-in. I always slip out of my shoes before hopping onto the scale—no additional ounces needed there. And after this past week of less purging, restricting, and running? I gained a pound. I know. The body fluctuates and a pound today may disappear tomorrow. But I am overwhelmed. Instead of the past week being a success (as it should be with ED behaviors decreasing), it feels like an utter failure. One pound will run rampant and multiply into five, then, ten. This feels out of control, and yet, I know it is I, or rather, IT and the ED that is out of control. Part of my brain is still healthy, still clings to this life and is smart enough to know that IT and ED are liars, propagandists.
This morning, my daughter forgot to bring in her nest that she found to school; she wanted to show off the perfect twig circle and three, red-wing blackbird eggs. Christopher and I drove up to her school so I could drop it off for her.
“Isn’t this the perfect metaphor,” he said. “You’re carrying a nest of three eggs."
Three eggs in a nest: I don’t just carry myself through IT, I carry the three of them, too. Those eggs are fragile. I need to hold them very carefully. I don’t want to break them.
IT would like to destroy us all. My life, and by intertwining extension, their lives as well. So if a double-breakfast and a pound of flesh are what it takes to muzzle IT for today, then so be it. Today, Dr. B. reminded me, once again, of my mantra: I’ll do whatever it takes to have the life I want.