I’m tired, this week. Tired. So fucking tired of IT and of fighting IT, of trying to stay balanced, trying not to fall off the tightrope which is swaying and rocking beneath my feet and I’m twenty stories up. Holding on with my toes, knowing I have no choice but to stay on, but imagining, too, the freefall, giving up and letting go. I feel diminished, deflated, like a tire poked through by a sharp nail—flattened and exhausted by the assault that comes at me from all sides.
“You fat, fucking cow,” IT says. (Your husband notes that when you get tired, your use of profanities increase.) “You’re like some pig at the trough snuffling up food. Don’t you see how enormous you are? And those arms, those cross-hatched wrists. You deserve the pain and punishment of the razor. Flayed alive. That’s how it should be. Because all you do is damage your family. Didn’t Christopher just tell you that you can’t live at home if you’re purging and restricting when you have a seven year old daughter? Can’t you see that she’s watching you, every move you make, every step and every misstep? Really, don’t you think it’s time to die? Let me take control and you can finally go away. You can be done with yourself.”
But then there’s Christopher and Dr. B. and my family and friends who tell me to fight IT. That I have to stick to the program in order to fight IT. But the program feels impossible these days, especially when I’m seizing every moment to skip a meal or purge. Which only increases the shame and self-loathing. Nothing like getting the backsplash of vomit in your face and hair to tell you exactly how far down the well you’ve fallen. I’m like some animal reduced to my basest self. Or dragging my daughter up to the bathroom at a recent party just so I can purge the handful of crudités (fucking crudités, zero calories, water and fiber nothing more). I need the cover of my daughter as I’m not allowed to go to the bathroom alone anymore after meals, snacks, handfuls, mouthfuls, bites. Talk about how angry this makes me—pissing with the door open, having my husband standing sentry in the hallway, always having to account for my movements around the house. But of course, I’ve brought this on myself.
This narrowed idea of a life brings despair. Despair hollows me out, makes everyone, and their love, seem distant, inaccessible. I am underwater and make no movements to swim back to the surface. Part of me wants to sink like lead to the bottom of the dark, cold sea.
Dr. B. reminded me of Terry Schiavo, the woman who was at the center of controversy a few years ago—her husband wanted to remove her feeding tube, her parents objected. But no one really talked about what got her there—bulimia. She had some sort of stroke after purging and essentially became a complete vegetable.
“I don’t want to see your life become that,” Dr. B. said.
I was angry and flip because IT has convinced me that there is no way out of IT this time, so why even try? So I said, “Oh, I would never let that happen. I’d find some way to die first.” Idiot. I wouldn’t have a choice in the matter because I’d be without a voice, without identifiable will, under the control of others.
Does this scare me? Oh, absolutely. I was up last night, unable to sleep, full-on panic attack. IT was sitting on my chest, making it difficult to breathe, heart racing, fingers and toes tingling. I’d been thinking about stroking out over the toilet bowl (what a disgusting, pathetic possibility), worrying that I was throwing off my cardiac system with possible electrolyte imbalances. Because that’s how bad the purging has gotten—automatic urge regardless if it’s a plate of lasagna or a few carrot sticks or a spoonful of yogurt. Everything that comes in, must go out. That’s IT’s message. A simple system, but one that is dehumanizing and debasing. Again, the face I see in the toilet bowl is my own. It’s no wonder I think of razors and pain after purging. Thoughts of suicide quickly follow. So it’s cleaner, less agonizing to skip meals. Hunger pains are the kind of pain that can be hidden but still felt. Punishment concealed.
“Do you need to go back into the hospital?” Christopher asked last night.
“God no,” I said. “That means six months at Warren State.” But part of me, the exhausted, worn-out me that has taken up residence this week, wanted to say, “Yes. Please, yes. I’m so tired of fighting, so tired of the racing thoughts, so tired of the obsessive thinking, so tired of urges and urges and urges, so tired of planning out possible ways to die. Please let someone else take over. Let me no longer have a say in whether I eat or don’t, whether I cut or don’t, whether I live or die. Because I want to live and see my life, this wonderful, love-filled life through.”
But I don’t say this because I’m scared, because IT doesn’t want me to change. And really, maybe this black mood will pass and this is just a fucking shitty week and I have managed to survive many, many, many of these kinds of weeks. So I crawl into bed in between my kids who are asleep, and who have earlier insisted I sleep in the middle, where they can both spoon against me, where they can both feel safe that I will not leave, that I will tickle them awake again in the morning, that I, too, will wake and feel loved.