On eating, not eating, and weight.

I have always had an eating disorder.

I remember climbing the tall metal chair in my mother’s kitchen to get to the cookies hidden in the back of the freezer. I didn’t know that they had marijuana in them, but I did know they were green. I didn’t eat them because of the pot, though. I was just hungry.

When I was young, I was very angry.

I was angry at my mother for my waistline and my weight. I hated her for being beautiful, when I knew I wasn’t; I hated her for being socially acceptable despite how poor we were, when I knew I would never fit in even if I got rich. By the time I was sixteen, I had already tried every diet you didn’t have to buy anything special for, and none of them had caused me to transform from a fat awkward duckling into a slim graceful swan.

The year I turned 14, I started measuring.

I measured myself every week: neck, chest, waist, stomach below the waist (and yes, skinny people, they are two separate parts), hips, upper and lower arms and legs. Sometimes wrists and ankles. I did this for years; I still have some of the notebooks, and skimming them I can watch childish scrawl give way to more legible cursive and then back to a scribble when I gave up on handwriting.

Me, pretty much, except I was fatter and had worse pants. Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

At 15, I started skipping meals.

Breakfast was easy to miss: the children of my family were orphaned to video games and self-absorption, and later to 12-step programs and drugs. As long as I did my chores and made sure my younger siblings had dinner, no one policed what I did, and I stayed up so late most nights doing the family’s laundry that I got up about five minutes before our early morning school bus came for me.

The summer I turned 16, I started running

I would leave the house before the sun came up, run down the hill in the crisp air of a summer morning to where the road turned, then climb back up the green cool wooded side. It took about fifteen minutes. Most days I would also go walking, then later run/walking, then later running, around our block, which was 3 miles. On rainy days I would do the Sweatin’ to the Oldies videocassettes my mother had gotten from somewhere when I complained about my weight.

I was very sick by 17

There’s a phenomenon you’ve experienced called orthostatic hypotension, where you stand up and are dizzy. Anorexics can get it when they’re just standing there, which is what I did when I was 16 and 17. This is partly due to lack of blood volume caused by dehydration: a lot of the water you get comes from food, and when you don’t eat any food, you have to drink a lot of water to keep up.

I have been lucky with my eating disorder.

I’m lucky that I’m good at quitting things, and when I was halfway through my freshman year of college and realized that even with playing rugby, unreasonable workouts, and years of not eating, I was still fat. So I gave up, mostly, on the dream of being thin, and I reintroduced things like “soup” and “bread” to my life.

A skinny torso, probably female, with one green nail-polished hand on the hip and the other pulling too-big pants away
A skinny torso, probably female, with one green nail-polished hand on the hip and the other pulling too-big pants away
Image by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay

I still write sometimes, and I have a buttload of already-written stuff. So there you go.

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