Skin and Bones
Author's note: I wrote this mostly as a coping method, and to get it out of my soul. Most people don't know... Show full author's note »
In the beginningFour years ago I woke up...but almost couldn't stand up. I lowered my feet onto the hardwood floor and shuffled my way over to my chest of drawers. I pulled open the top drawer, and randomly grabbed a pair of balled up socks. As I bent down to put the socks on, my vision got a little fuzzy and dark. I started to feel light-headed...as I straightened up, I closed my eyes to try to clear my vision. It didn't really work, so I reached up into the top shelf of my closet and pulled down my candy stash. I dipped my hand into the small candy box and searched around for a small Dove chocolate. Eventually I found one- Milk Chocolate with Almond- and I started to pick at the foil wrapper with my fingers. "It's just low blood sugar" I told myself. "Nothing to worry about". As I popped the chocolate into my mouth, I silently told myself that I needed to make sure to savor this, as it would be the last thing I ate in a while. I needed to savor this, because I hadn’t had a piece of chocolate in 2 months. I needed to savor this to stay sane.
That little piece of chocolate was my breakfast that day. Of course it was, how could I let anything but water past my lips while my brain was telling me I wasn't hungry, couldn't eat, didn't need anything, I was fine? I was always fine. "Lydia, is that your stomach growling?" my mom would ask. I would say, "oh, that? No, it's just my stomach making weird noises...it does that ...bubbles." In reality, my stomach was eating itself, because it had nothing else to digest. Lately, all I'd been eating was small piece of fruit for breakfast, a small sandwich or something for lunch, and a very small serving of whatever was served for supper. No snacks, no sweets. No nothing. 200 calories a day at most. Exercise piled on top of that worked off all of the calories I consumed. I was a walking skeleton.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see what everyone else sees? Or is it kind of like the theory that everyone sees colors in a different way? If you see fat, do they see average? If you see skinny do they see skeletal? I think my view was skewed in a way that only let me see what I wanted. I wanted to see someone average and not malnourished, because if I saw someone too thin in the mirror, that would be admitting I had a problem. Did I have a problem? Why wasn't I hungry anymore? Why couldn't I laugh at anything? Why didn't I care? Where had the joy for life gone? I certainly had none of the answers to these questions. But I did think about them a lot. In fact, I thought so much, that by the time someone approached me with the concern that I may have a problem, I knew all of my feelings inside and out.
Mom and I were downtown shopping for swimsuits when I first felt uncomfortable about my new weight. We went into several shops, but none seemed to have anything modest enough for my mother's tastes. Finally though, we were looking through the swim gear rack at the last store, and I found a bikini bottom and top with a surf shirt to cover up the skimpiness of the regular swim top. I went to the dressing room to try it on, hoping it would fit since I wanted to swim that year. For at least the 5th time, I slipped off my shorts and shirt and undies and pulled on the stretchiness of the swimsuit. As I put the bikini top on, I noticed as I had a few times before, that the skin on my arms was very tight and very dry. Every movement I made with my arms felt like I had let paint dry on my skin, and the dried paint was cracking with my movements. My shoulders, back, and elbows were pointy, like a baby birds when it is just born and without many feathers. When I had put the whole of the suit on I shyly opened the door to the dressing room. Somehow I knew. I knew this would be the turning point. That showing this much skin to my mom would finally open her eyes to what had been slowly happening under cover of my layers of sweatshirts and blue jeans. Surprisingly, she didn't mention anything of it to me for several weeks. Not until a friend of ours pointed it out to her. But by then, I was so far gone.
The summer of 2007, some good friends of our family called and asked if any of our family would be interested in helping pick rocks in their fields. If any of you are from Iowa, you know how this works most likely. For some reason, it seems like the soil in Iowa grows rocks. One year you'll go through a field and pick up all of the visible rocks. A year later you might walk into the field to check your freshly tilled ground, and see hundreds more rocks. It kind of seems pointless to pay money to have the rocks gathered up, right? Well, if the rocks are just left there, some expensive farming equipment might be damaged greatly. So, my 3 sisters and brother and I were recruited to pick rocks in the beginning of July. The weather in the summer can be very unpredictable in Iowa, so for all we knew, we could be picking rocks and sweating buckets...and in my case be in severe danger. But remember, my mom wasn't really aware of anything at this point.
My mom drove us to the field where we would be working, which was about seven miles south west of the town we lived in. We met the farmer and his wife and kids near the field where we would be picking. Everyone was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, because though the day had the potential to be hot, it was early in the morning and there was still a chill in the air. That morning our mom had told us to eat a big breakfast, since we would be working hard and might not get a break until noon. I had looked around our kitchen searching for something "safe" to eat. My eyes landed on our plate of fruit we kept relatively well stocked. "A peach isn't too many calories, is it?" I asked myself. It would have to do, since there would be no easy way to tote along my customary leftover half of banana from breakfast that I ate for lunch. (Yes, I ate 1/2 a banana for breakfast, and the other half for lunch. Please do not try this at home.) Instead of a half of a banana for lunch, I had planned and packed a turkey "sandwich". This consisted of 2 slices of white bread, mustard, pickles and two slices of turkey. I hadn't allowed myself this luxury in weeks.