My feet won’t move. This is problematic for several reasons. It’s nearly 7:30am. I have things to do. People are counting on me to do them. I’m working this morning. I have a long drive. I need to pack a lunch and walk the dog. I have two children who need to be out the door on their way to the bus stop, and I’ve yet to rouse a preschooler whose arousal is necessary, and who requires a great deal of prompting before nine. Still…these insubordinate feet. I have affirmations scrawled across my mirror. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”, “I was bought at a price”, “I deserve to eat”. But the sudden fleshiness and breadth of my body this morning has resulted in those letters being reduced to nonsensical graffiti. All harsh angles and bruised edges. My skin feels too tight. I must take care to stand extremely still. It’s possible that I might split clean open, like an overripe tomato. I know I have to go…I can’t though. My mind is reeling as I try puzzle out the why’s? and the what happened? that have led to my present plight. What I might have done or not done. Eaten or not eaten..
Sometimes the eating disorder voices that have dogged me for as long as I can remember, lay dormant. For days. Weeks even. Blessed alleviation. But sometimes, like today, the cacophony in my head is so coarse, so deafening, that rational thought is unobtainable. I know it’s a bad idea to weigh myself. The very fact that I even have a scale in my home, impugns my convictions, and I would (and do) sternly admonish my fellow eating disorder sufferers to eschew just such a practice. I am not a hypocrite. I believe what I say. Adhering to my own sagacity though, …well. Wheels within wheels. I have to check. As it is, I feel too ashamed to go out. I don’t want to be seen. I wish, not for the first time, for a cloak of invisibility. Before reason can divert me, I retrieve the burdensome device. That I am once again perplexed by the outcome, is wholly draining.
Two summers ago, I had but one objective to accomplish. And it was numerical. A lofty intent, but one I was assured could be done. Gain weight. Lots of it. Reach my mark. Three digits flashed in my mind. Health..energy..strength..over and over, like an electric neon sign. I wanted to return to my husband and see delight on his face. Desire at the way I once again filled out my clothes instead of my bones filling out my skin. I wanted my family to feel proud. To prove their investment in me had not been in vain. The day I was informed (with genuine felicity), that I had reached this goal weight, I exulted. I thoughtfully considered my new shape. I understood that what I was seeing would experience some natural adjustments over the next year or so. The process of re-feeding a malnourished body must be gradual and it physically hurts. Really hurts. A regenerating affliction this time, yes, but still heavy. So to speak. In the interest of protecting the body from future starvation, newly gained mass is often concentrated at your core to spare the vital organs. The design of the human body is indescribably brilliant. Truly. I determined at that moment that I could abide this new form. Respect, if never sincerely cherish, it. My experiment at suicide by emptiness was so promising. But my body won. It was time for me to cede. I had been fighting too long. My body wanted to survive more than I wanted it to die. I had to admire the tenacity in that. I owed it. Consequently, I was going to own my weight.
Weighing two pounds less than that once happy weight this morning, I am pendulating between sheer bewilderment, the dread that accompanies my powerlessness, and repulsion at my reflection. It’s not the first time that I’ve considered the possibility that the scale is lying. Deliberately lying because the entire universe is conspiring to make me fat. Not for the first time has this suspicion crossed my mind. I haven’t pieced together the precise reason for the nefarious plot as of yet, but nothing else seems to make quite as much sense as that supposition does. Because only last week? I was all right. Now, I am incapacitated. My rabid compulsion is to carve away my disfigurement, lash out at my unsightliness…but such a self-indulgent performance won’t do. I know from a long-term, push-me/pull-me relationship with self harm, that in the end it accomplishes little aside from ample regret. I shut my eyes tight and turn away from the mirror. I have to do that regularly. I periodically drape it with glossy scarves in an endeavor to addle my eyes with tincture and template. I find the gossamer material can sometimes bring ease to that which makes me the most uneasy.
On my way to work later – I did, somehow, push myself into motion eventually – I lose myself in music. Easy to do. For a few moments, I am even able to stop shifting in my seat. Stop adjusting my seat belt and oversize coat to hide all my perceived flaws from passing drivers who might glance over and be revolted by the sight of me. By how I’ve let myself go. Because somehow everyone knows. As the chorus of an unfamiliar song begins, I am struck by the words:
“Words could never say, the way He says my name ,He calls me…”lovely” / No one ever sees, the way He looks at me , He sees me…holy / Words could never hold, this love that burns my soul /Heaven holds me ,Heaven holds me…”* I’m not going to end with “and she lived happily ever after.” Life in the real world just doesn’t work that way. I’ll tell you what though – that reminder for those few minutes? That was for me. Two pounds or (gulp) twenty pounds, Someone sees me as pretty special. A lot of someones, actually. And I owe it to them, to the One who sees me as holy, to be here. Fully here. On days like today, it simply means being willing. To trust. To persevere. To put one foot in front of the other.
*Jesus Culture – “Sing My Love”