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The Rules and Regulations of Being Beautiful

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Do you know that girl that seems to slip in and out of reality? Slipping between dimensions that don’t seem to exist? She hides from everyone; herself, her parents, her life. She’s the pallid shadow gliding through life without ever leaving an imprint of where she’s been. That was me. I’m the ashen, impassive girl that lost everything when someone decided to take it from me.
1
It started out a great day; a perfectly normal day in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I was running to school because I was late, as usual. As I reached my locker and twirled the combination, I felt myself relax. It was finally Friday. As I twirled on my heel, ready to dash off to first period; I ran smack into Lila, head snob extraordinaire. She smirked at me, giving me the once over. Then she spat out a discordant and abrasive word that sent me into a tailspin for the next six months of my life.
“Fatty.” She said, her vapid face curling into a grimace that I think was supposed to resemble a grin.
Everyone around us who had heard started to laugh. It wasn’t something big that everyone would notice, just a raucous giggle. Life went on, but I was standing still. Rooted to the spot, I blinked hard, trying not to let my tears run down my flushed face. I pushed through the mass of people, trying to let the crowd swallow me. But I stood out, as I always had. I tried sinking into the wall, melding into the insipid background that was the backdrop of my life for five days a week. It didn’t work. In a fit of fury, repulsion, and something I could only identify as ignominy, I hurtled into the nearest bathroom and retched until there was nothing left. I lay on the floor, heaving until I felt nothing more than the sticky bathroom ground pressing against my clammy skin.

2

As I ran towards my next period ignoring the whispered comments behind people’s hands, I gasped for air. With the room closing, in, I struggled to pull in a full breath. Anxiety attack, I think I mumbled. When I reached my classroom, I ran to my seat in the very corner of the room and sat down with a decisive thud. I put my head back against the wall and let the silence seep in. It felt good, like my mind was finally free to float around without having a body tied to it. When class started, I couldn’t concentrate. The moment Lila spat that word at me kept replaying over and over in my head, like a video put on a constant loop. By the time I reached lunch, my nerves were frayed so thin I could barely eat. The few bites I could choke down I threw up during seventh period. By the time I reached homeroom, my mind was made up.

3

When I was finished with school, I ran to the local Walgreens. I browsed the aisles until I found what I was looking for. It was weight loss medication. I grabbed three bottles and slowly walked to the register. As I reached it, the woman rang them up without saying a word. Before she handed me my receipt, she glanced at me. She stared at me for several long seconds. I stared right back, my blood started to boil. How would she know what I was going through? No one understood the pain, not even me.

When I reached home, I quietly slid into my bathroom and read the instructions. After staring at the bottle for several more seconds, I removed two pills and choked them down. I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to envision myself thinner than I already was. The image wouldn’t come. My brain sent a constant distress signal, telling me I was already thin enough. I pushed it away, and went to my room to fall asleep. That night, my sleep was riddled with nightmares and horror fantasies. I tossed and turned, wriggled and writhed. Eventually, I sat up with my sheets soaked with a cold sweat. Gasping for air, I slowly sank back onto my damp sheets.



4
That night I’m sure my parents noticed a change in me. They told me later it was like I had gone to school the normal me and a different girl had come back. This girl was quieter, ate less, and had a shorter fuse. I didn’t dive right in as I usually did. I picked at my chicken, cutting it into impossibly small pieces, and then cutting them even smaller. Finally, my dad breached the subject.
“Sweetie? Are you feeling alright?”
I just stared at my plate. I didn’t think I could talk without bursting into tears. Maybe if I had been stronger, looked up and into his eyes, things would have been different. But instead I shied away from confrontation as I always had. I continued to stare at my plate. If I had looked up, I could have seen the look of blatant apprehension my parents were sharing. Instead, I pushed away my plate and walked slowly up the stairs. I could feel their eyes following me, but I ignored them. I didn’t need anymore pain in my life.
When I reached my room, I went straight for the bathroom. As soon as I got there, I made myself retch until there was nothing left. I felt light headed as I reached my room. Everything was spinning. I slid slowly toward the floor that looked so far away. I closed my heavy lids, letting my body slide slowly into the floor. I let myself amalgamate into the soft carpet. Yet, for the next two months, I continued to starve myself. Which, if you think about it is pretty stupid. You think I would have seen the signs, seen the warning. But I ignored it, as I had done to anything that I didn’t like. I pretended it wasn’t there.

5

For the next couple of weeks, everything was okay. I continued to lose weight, yet I didn’t look scary. I’ll never forget what my mom said I looked like during this process.

“Your eyes, they were sunken into your head. Your skin was nearly translucent. You looked so thin, almost brittle. I was afraid to hug you anymore. It was like if I did, you might break, and I thought it was my fault. But when you looked deeper, you could see something else. You could see the fear in your eyes, the exhaustion in the way you moved. You used to be lithe. Afterward, you were just a piece of yourself. You must have lost the rest along the way.”
It brings tears to my eyes every time. Because if I had just looked in the mirror I could have seen, could have changed what had happened. But I refused to look at what I was doing to myself. I couldn’t handle it. I knew I was killing myself slowly, yet it was like an addiction. Like some sort of heavy duty drug. (Not that I had ever tried any.) You know it’s terrible for you. You’ve seen all the documentaries telling you how it’s killing your brain cells. Yet you ignore them, like I ignored all the warnings that were flashed in front of my unwilling eyes. I just kept moving.
6

It was a sleepy Tuesday when it happened. Everything was looking up. I was jogging with everyone else during my gym period as I felt something in me start to become unsteady. I didn’t feel so great anymore. The room started to spin and my legs started to wobble. I gasped for air, trying to fill my lungs. I heard a shout as I slipped to my knees. The ceiling was spinning as I plummeted toward the ground. My skull smacked the floor, and everything went black. When I opened my eyes again, I was riding in a speeding ambulance to the nearest hospital. I looked up into the eyes of the EMT working on me, trying to regulate my breathing.

I looked up into his eyes, looking for some indication, some detection of how bad it was. His face was an emotionless face was almost mask like. I tried to keep from hyperventilating, but it didn’t help. As the air whooshed out of my body, I gazed up at the EMT and said, “Catch me.”

I slid forward into his arms, feeling all my energy drain. When I got to the hospital, I couldn’t face anyone. When the doctor came into the room and discussed my “condition” with my parents, I felt myself floating around the room. I wasn’t tied to my bed. I was everywhere and everything. Words floated by every once and while, but they didn’t stick. It was like they were fat water droplets sliding off a windshield. I recognized all the ones that did manage to wiggle their way into my subconscious, like “severe bulimia,” and “rehab.” Those words scared me. I hadn’t ever thought what I was doing to myself would be anything worthy of rehab.

When I floated in long enough to have an actual conversation, it wasn’t pleasant. My parents just looked at me with their eyes full of compunction and raw emotion. My Dad just stared. My Mom kept looking at me and bursting into tears. Finally, my doctor decided to grace us with his presence. He looked at me for a long time not saying a word. I stared right back.

Finally, he said, “I can’t believe anyone would do something this stupid.”

It was like a slap to the face. I lashed out, feeling my anger and hurt get the better of me.

“What do you know, huh?” I said, practically shouting. “You don’t know what it’s like! You’ve never had anyone call you fat, or anyone make you feel like you just wanted to go kill yourself. You just don’t know!”

With a look of sheer understanding, he took my hand and said, “I’m so sorry that happened.”

7

After several days, I was shipped out to a rehab center for other bulimics. I thought it would be terrible. I thought it would be awful. But I learned to deal. I learned to understand. We all had our stories, and every single one of them was intertwined. Everyone had a different start, but the same ending. It helped me to learn that everyone was beautiful.

One evening after one of our “nourishing meals,” I walked to my room. It had been a cool evening and my curtains were flapping in the breeze. As I walked to close them, I glanced at myself in the mirror. I hadn’t seen myself much since I had been brought here. This time I stopped. I looked in the mirror, really looked. I had gained most of my weight back, and now I was almost back to my original weight. But this time, something was different. I had been the same person all along, but before I had been focusing on the outer shell. This time, I found myself looking deeper. I saw myself and true beauty. It wasn’t how athletic you were or how pretty. It was what was on the inside that really counted.

When I looked up, I saw my face was streaked with fat tears. But I smiled. I thought I looked more beautiful than I ever had in my life. This time I understood. It had been me the whole time. But now I saw everything was alright. I smiled. Everything was alright.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

lovelyworld said...
Apr. 27, 2010 at 11:13 am

this was really good. i wanna read about what happened afterwards...you know, to the bully girl. maybe...ya know...you should write it....maybe:) hahaha.

 

 
Loud1 replied...
Apr. 27, 2010 at 3:48 pm
Ha ha thanks. I really appreciate it. Maybe I'll make a sequel...
 
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