Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Our secret is that we still have an epic longing to be more than what we are." - Seymour Krim

When Seymour Krim wrote these words he was speaking of aging, of time expired, of the fantasy life that everyone wants but rarely attains. He was speaking to the American habit of idealized self-perfection, of jumping "from new project to new project", while all along, "our true projects have finally been ourselves."

I remember when sculpting myself was all that mattered. Losing weight was the one and only thing I cared about. I wasn't so concerned with the inside of my body. I treated it horribly—poured into it too much diet soda, dissolved into it too many pills. And I kept out of it everything it needed. Sometimes I didn't even let myself have water.

The outside of my body was what mattered. It had to be a certain size, a certain shape, a certain number, a certain weight. My hair had to be perfect (hard to pull off when it all started falling out.) My makeup had to be perfect (hard to pull off when my skin looked as artificial as the makeup itself). No matter how thin I was, I tried desperately to appear even thinner. I wanted people to think I weighed at least 5 pounds less than what I actually weighed. And I did everything I could think of to keep losing more and more weight in order to become the size (the ever shrinking, never attainable size) that I thought I should be. I had, like Krim suggests, "fallen so much in love with the ongoing excitement of becoming." When I first got sick, I didn't want anyone to look at me or to notice me. By the time my anorexia ballooned out of control and took over my life completely, I wanted everyone to stop and stare. I wanted them to see how sick I was, to call attention to my sickness and to own up to the part they all played in it.

I have come a long way since those days. I never thought it would happen, but I am now embarrassed by the old me that I thought was holy. I loved her. I thought I loved her. And sometimes, thinking back to those days, I have a tendency to only remember the good things. I tend to forget myself slung over the toilet vomiting my guts out. I tend to forget nights I stayed awake, scared to fall asleep because my chest hurt so badly, the nights I wanted to sleep but couldn't because I was so hungry. I haven't forgotten what hungry feels like, but I try not to think of it.

I feel like I have survived something major and lived to tell about it. I look back on my illness as if it happened in another life. Though in reality it wasn't all that long ago, it feels separate from my current existence and out of reach. I can't tap into that same mindset the way that I used to. Thinking back to anorexia is like trying to describe to someone a very vivid dream you've had. It seems very real the moment you wake up, but the longer you find yourself awake, the more distant the dream becomes. And then you remember you've had a dream but you can't recall what it was about. You just know that something terribly important happened, but it is over now.


  1. This shows incredible strength, and I really admire you for it. Not to be superficial or anything, but how did you cope with the changes to your body as you pursued recovery? How did you deal with weight gain and your changing body size as you went from sick to "healthy"? I would be lying if I said I wasn't afraid - I am afraid of the bits that jiggle, the parts that are not toned - the parts that hint at curves and hips. How did you do it?

  2. I'm going to be honest, it hasn't been easy. Without getting in to too long of a story, my initial recovery from anorexia led me to bulimia. As I began eating more, my disorder tried to cope with the extra calories and extra pounds by purging. Before long that spun wildly out of control and I was just as sick as I ever was, only in a slightly different way. I didn't lose any weight by being bulimic. In fact, it made me gain. But once I did gain a little, my body leveled off at a healthy weight where it still stays stagnant. I don't gain and I don't lose now. I just live. No more up and down. Maybe what I meant to say there was once you begin to gain, you don't keep gaining forever and ever like the anorexic inside of you says you will. You will become a weight that feels natural to your body. Your body knows what is best! Just respect it and listen to it. I can understand being afraid of "the bits the jiggle" and the "parts that are not toned." The only advice I can offer is to keep loving yourself, every part of yourself. I know that's easier said than done. But you have to reorder your brain. Know that just because you gain weight doesn't mean you're somehow not as good as you once were. Know that you are better because you are healthier. Best of luck to you. I hope this helps.