Below is a quick little rant about ED-related stuff and it’s probably all very self-conscious and self-centred and too honest and triggering so you can ignore it if you’d like.
TW: Eating Disorders, Bulimia, feeling like a not-BAMF
I don’t know what I was hoping for on this trip in terms of my body, really.
My bulimia has been mostly under control for the better part of a year; sure, there are harder days, and even harder days, and days where the weight of my own self-loathing makes me feel sick to my stomach even though every single brain wave that’s not radiating hatred from my brain to my body is saying it’s okay, Tara, there’s nothing wrong with you. don’t be sick.
All EDs are complicated. Mine no less so. I’ve always been bigger than most people - I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my body’s natural state is, like, a size 10. Absolute minimum. Any smaller and I start looking weird. I’ve got broad shoulders and big hips and this huge ribcage and I’m stout and strong and solid. That’s okay. I’m fine with being solid. I’ve never wanted to be tiny. It never would have been possible.
I never got down into a low-normal or underweight BMI with my ED. The binge-and-purge nature of it sort of prevented it. I could never handle just not eating. The closest I really got to anything anorexia-related was the obsessive calorie counting, and even then I made sure I ate enough. Even if I only scraped 1200 calories a day, I wouldn’t let myself starve. But that left me as a fat chick who claimed to have an ED. Other girls with EDs didn’t believe me, didn’t want to talk to me, even said things like well you must not be doing it right. You’re part of the problem. You’re a wannabe and a fatass. You’re not as strong as me.
None of my friends who didn’t have EDs wanted to talk about it. I’m a really self-conscious person and the mountain of disapproving looks and hushed dismissals and blame and we don’t want to talk about its added to this enormous pile of shame I was living under. I didn’t want to talk about it, either. I knew it was my fault. I knew I should be stronger and smarter than all of this. But I couldn’t turn it off, so I just stopped trying to reach out.
It’s hard to try to get better when doctors just tell you it’s bad and you should stop and your friends just tell you it’s bad and you should stop and everyone who’s ever been in your position tells you it’s bad and you should stop because look at how fat you are you don’t really have a problem anyway, even when I threw up blood and things that looked like they used to be a part of me and I lost the high range of my singing voice and one part of my throat burned where the bile was eating through the tissue like a promise.
In my most recent push to get better, I counted calories and I did yoga pretty obsessively for most of last year, and that kept the bingeing and purging more or less at bay. I made goals for myself. 30 pounds to lose before I got to Montréal.
I almost got there, too. This trip was my last push. I figured it would be easier to eat less if I was constantly moving, constantly walking.
I think a part of me, the part that’s still mostly just an eating disorder with legs, thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for starvation.
But more or less the opposite happened. Especially since Paris or so, I’ve been relying a lot on foods I had completely sworn off just because I need something fast and dense. I’ve spent hours sitting still on trains. There has been no way to exercise. My bad knee even makes it hard to walk as much as I’d like. I’ve gained some weight and I feel really helpless and gross and out of control. I knew I was coming to the coast of the Mediterranean and I’d be in a bathing suit and that thought made me panic. Even thinking about it now, I’ve started sweating and squirming. I don’t want anyone to look at me like that. I don’t even want to look at myself.
I had a horrible day yesterday. It was a bad body day to start, and then I got hopelessly lost in Barcelona and completely missed out on meeting up with the friend that I booked it here from Germany and paid like a hundred dollars to come see. Then my fucking Couchsurfing host insisted I come meet him at work, and it turned out he’s a part of this goddamed nutritional pyramid scheme thing he was trying to get me to buy into. He told me about the obesity epidemic and asked me lots of invasive questions about what I ate and how much I exercised and then to top it all off started to weigh me and measure me and calculate my body fat percentage and write it all out on this big chart just to let me know how much farther I still have to go before assholes like him stop trying to save me every couple of months. I sat there, still and stiff and trying not to cry, until I couldn’t help it anymore and I just choked out that I have an eating disorder and this is all really triggering and I have to LEAVE NOW GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.
So I walked around Barcelona, stopping in restaurant bathrooms and deserted alleyways to cry, for two more hours before I could go back to his house where I just locked myself in my room and went to sleep. My friend left for Portugal early this morning and I didn’t even get to see him. I keep making friends and leaving them forever a few dozen hours later. I haven’t been hugged or kissed in more than a month. The only romantic attention I’ve gotten on this trip so far is three people mistaking me for a prostitute in Amsterdam, another stupid CS host touching my ass repeatedly and implying he wanted to rape me in Munich, and a guy at an internet café handing me his phone number and making gross sexy-eyes at me when I asked for directions.
All of this combined really doesn’t make a lady feel too great about herself.
The bulimic behaviour started when I was about fourteen. Since then I keep on going back and forth between “I don’t care how physically or mentally healthy I am, I just want to be thin” and “I don’t care how thin I am, I just want to be happy.”
In the rational part of my brain I know that there is nothing wrong with being a little overweight. In the rational part of my brain I think all people are beautiful and fantastic no matter what size, shape, colour, or level of weird they are. This is not the part of my brain that’s sick, though. There is a part of my mind that has a disease and can’t figure out how to like myself.
All I want from my life right now is for this to go away. That is all I’ve wanted for a long time. I just want to be able to eat cheese and potatoes and rice without almost having a panic attack. Despite how many moments of weakness or insanity I go through when I decide that no, not eating and being skin and bones would be awesome and I should throw up that salad I just ate, I know that all I really want is for this to go away. For good. Forever. I do not want to be skinny as much as I want to like myself. I want to be better.
But I’m not. I’m not better yet. And it’s not for want of trying, I’ve been trying for six years. And here I am, six years and two therapists and countless crash diets and hours of yoga and 70 pounds later, STILL feeling like no one understands and I have no one to talk to about this. Nobody gets it. Nobody I’ve been able to talk to yet.
It is non-awesome.