What I Hate About IT:
IT robs me of time. The time I spend thinking about not eating, the time I spend conniving to purge, the time I spend fantasizing about cutting, the time I wish I could just be left alone to die, the time I spend not being present for my kids or husband. Time is all I have, and it dwindles every day, and every day I give IT more and more of that precious time.
IT runs a dictatorship. No possibility of a healthier coup d’état by my rational, saner self. IT says that purging five times in one day (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, snack) is just as it should be. Zero calorie intake. It says that I don’t get to eat period. Period. Not even a handful of granola (purge) or a barely-any-calories apple (purge). It takes great pride in meals skipped—meals I need in order to stay balanced on my meds. As the great Dr. B. taught me today, the body needs fat to process the chemistry that keeps us alive—lipo-something. (Not liposuction which IT often fantasizes about—get rid of that roll around the middle—no creases or bulges or floppy skin. Juts a smooth, angular plane. The blank canvas. But I remind myself that the body perfected is really only the body dead (as Sylvia Plath also wrote in her poems)—the perfected body becomes the lifeless statue, the marble figure on the dais in some museum.
IT backs me into a corner, isolating me form those I love and those who, maybe more importantly right now, love me. I don’t want to answer the phone. Case in point: just this morning, I managed to drag myself out of depressive inertia (it is bad, bad, bad right now), and called my best friend. Can I tell you how relieved I was that she didn’t answer? That I didn’t have to talk? That I didn’t have to compose myself into someone with something worth talking about. Because let me tell you right now: when I am not wrapped up under the covers hoping my life will just go away, I am exhausted by the effort of composing myself into the talking ventriloquist’s dummy. Listening to what my rational self is telling me to say—see I can teach my writing workshop and feel professional and smart. But see too—IT is telling me to cut my arms, to not eat, to cease and desist.
IT wants me dead. That’s the direction I feel like I’m heading. Dr. B. reminded me today that he still has hope for me. That he can see an expansive life for me, one that is open to laughter and love. But IT can only see my end because let me be honest here. In this recent bout of mania and depression I have been an untenable bitch. Horrible to husband and kids alike. Avoiding phone calls. Skipping out on plans with friends. Just yesterday, my daughter came home from school all jazzed up, ready to pummel me with kisses. What did I do? Literally, I pushed her away, hands on her chest. NO, It said. NO. You do not deserve love and affection. Besides. Being loved is an impossibility when you are filled with self-loathing. And oh do I have a boatload of that.
IT hates my body. I’m seeing this Body Dysmorphic specialist, and today she gave me the task of standing in front of a mirror, naked, staring at all the parts I hate. Belly. Hips. Ass. Exposure therapy she called it. And better yet, have Christopher there with me. We’re supposed to talk my way through the anxiety. IT, of course, is derisive of such an experiment. NO fucking way will I ever come to terms with the roll and the fat and the width. And to have Christopher there with me, watching me watch me? And yet, isn’t this exactly what I need to do? Years ago, Dr. B. recommended the same exercise but I stupidly pooh-poohed him. How could that possibly help? Well, I guess I find out if it helps since that’s what on tap for the weekend. (And my husband, being the lovely man he is, says he relishes the opportunity to gaze upon my naked flesh). Now I blush.
IT is about contraction, not expansion. I’m reminded every day that this disease of IT has narrowed what is possible in my world. The ability to be a stable, guiding force for my children? Scratch that. The possibility of a third child, the triumvirate complete? All that I held on to, the baby blankets and burp cloths and mobiles and high chairs sold or donated. A gaping space in my attic storage room. A huge hole in my heart.
IT has taken me. Just the other day, I made the idiotic statement to my nutritionist that if I could remain at 120 pounds for the rest of my life, I’d happily give up running. One of the great joys of my life. I trade horseback riding. I’ve already traded my ability to write—not novel or story-in-progress to speak of. I’m giving up all that matters to me to IT—the malicious, hateful, loathsome dictator. I’m living a life that balanced at two poles: 1. Medicinally zonked out sleep (ah! Forget I exist and descend into narcotic slumber); 2. Manic outbursts: cleaning out closets (filling garbage bags); walking (since running has been taken away) 4 miles at top speed; ruminating and ruminating on all the ways I am a failure and deserve to die.
But then Dr. B. held my hand today, and for a moment, I felt steady and whole and loved. And IT wilted in the face of Dr. B.’s compassion. Grace, indeed.