When I was around 10, I wrote in my diary that I’d never weigh more than my mom. She was skinny and narrow-shouldered and short, with bony elbows and prominent cheekbones. She ate gluten-free and exercised a lot and would often complain about her weight or her looks, and I would reassure her that she looked great.
I settled on a number, and I made a promise to myself, in writing, that my weight would never surpass it. But I was just a kid in middle school when I made that promise. I hadn’t hit puberty yet and I didn’t know that one day I’d grow tall and broad-shouldered and thick.
Between the ages of 12 and 13 I had bulimia, but I hid it so well that nobody knew. After a year of throwing up, I realized it wasn’t making me any skinnier, so I stopped. Then we moved to the States and food was everywhere, and I started gaining weight.
Candy was really what did it, and the CVS right around the corner that supplied it to me. My friend Owen and I would go and buy tons of candy and eat it day after day, and it wasn’t long before I hit my self-imposed maximum weight.
On and off, I stopped eating. I exercised compulsively even though I didn’t really know how to exercise. My “workout” consisted of stuff we did in gym class: jumping jacks, running up and down the stairs. I counted calories obsessively. I self-harmed when I thought I’d eaten too much.
I was diagnosed with EDNOS: Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. I thought that was what they called you when you weren’t skinny enough to be anorexic. I kept binging and starving and not talking to anyone about it. I wasn’t throwing up anymore, and I wasn’t losing weight. In fact, I kept getting bigger and bigger, until I couldn’t fit into my mom’s jeans anymore. I was heavy, bloated like a corpse, covered in scars.
I hated my body for betraying me. Punishment was the only form of control that I felt I had over my it.
I’ve never opened up about this as much as I am right now.
This week I had a psychotic or spiritual experience, I’m not sure which. I became unstuck from time, and I was a little child, and I was with my mother, and I was a chubby baby and she loved me anyway. And then I was old and unattractive, married to Peter, and we were still very much in love. That all lasted years, but in reality I was gone only 15 minutes.
When I came back to the present, I realized that my life and my existence were even bigger than the seemingly huge numbers that I had let define me. I realized that the people who love me do so without taking my body into consideration.
I understand now that my parents didn’t raise a body, and a body is not what Peter fell in love with. My body is a spaceship that my mind travels the universe in. My body is an avatar.
And these epiphanies came all at once, and they did what no amount of therapy or hospitalization or pills could ever do. They made me truly accept myself, all at once, just like that. ♦