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I Was Starving to Be Accepted
I sit here pondering the question; “What is rejection?” I realize that it is more than just an action one may view as rude, or inconsiderate. It can be so severe, as to be a life altering experience. The word in itself comes from the root word “reject”; which is simply something that is flawed or imperfect. What happens to rejects? They get rejected- discarded or ignored. How would you feel if you were rejected? Take a few steps in my shoes and you may just catch a glimpse for this horrid feeling of abandonment that will always haunt me.
“Visitation time, ladies please report to your rooms until your visitors arrive,” The aging head nurse squawked at us from behind the safety of her desk. I slowly dragged my feet towards my room as I hear the other girls being called back to visit in the courtyard. As I reached my room, I slammed my door open and threw myself down onto my hard, cold, prison-style bed. There were already tears streaming down my face, anxiety overwhelming my whole body. Knowing that I wouldn’t be seeing anyone that night, I began thinking about what had brought me to this torture chamber they call a “treatment center.”
It must have all started in early middle school. I remember the other girls wearing cute clothes showing off their stick thin bodies that I envied. I hid my body, which I was ashamed of, behind oversized sweatshirts and loose basketball shorts. To me, food became the enemy, poison to my body. It was the work of the devil. He wanted me to lose control and eat, so I would become fat. I had to remain pure from such “sin”, so I resolved to not eat. I must never gain a pound; this I made myself promise.
The pounds slid off too quickly. One hundred forty pounds almost instantly dropped to one hundred and twenty, and in nothing flat I was severely underweight. I became emaciated, dehydrated and could barely make it through daily activities without feeling faint. I was no longer the strong, fast, star athlete, nor the teacher’s pet. I had become an extremely fragile, ill young lady. The monster called Anorexia Nervosa had taken me hostage, tormented my mind and body, until I became so sick I got sent away to a residential treatment center. There I was supposed to, “Start with a clean slate, and find my true sense of self.” Although ther reality of the situation was that they just force fed the underweight “inmates,” locked them out of bathrooms after meal times, and gave them very little privacy.
I heard Mrs. Judy, my therapist, call my name as she looked for me in the courtyard. I vividly remember her entering my room. Her heels clicked rhythmically on the wood floor, getting louder and louder as she approached my room. They stopped. She popped her head in my door, then hastily scurried in and sat on the edge of my previous roommates’ bed. My heart began to race, unprepared for this random confrontation with her; I could only assume the worst.
“Your mom is coming to take you home tomorrow. How do you feel about that? Do you think you are ready to go back into the real world and face the demons that brought you here, head on?” She questioned me in her soft, low voice, as if I were some unstable maniac that was holding her hostage at gunpoint. I rolled over into my pillow and groaned. I shrugged my shoulders and began crying again. She left me alone to process the “good news.”
I had no clue what I was about to go home to. There were so many different things that could have changed, but did they? Was it going to be as bad as this hell hole, or would things have improved? Will my parents be the same emotionally distant, alcoholics they have always been? As I fell asleep, my thoughts raced through every possible situation that might occur the next day. None of them could have possibly prepared me for the cruel reality I was about to face.
Morning came, and all I could thing about was going home. The clock could not have moved any slower. Finally as lunchtime came around the doorbell rang. I froze. It felt like an eternity as I watched the tech slowly crawl towards the door.
“Click!” She unlocks the door that has imprisoned me here for these ninety-four long days. My mother slithers into the doorway. She looks horrible. Her eyes are bloodshot from many sleepless nights, on top of her alcohol and painkiller daze. She rushes through the discharge papers with an unsure hand. I say my goodbyes to the girls who had helped me through the program as the nurses hastily usher me out the door. I climb into the truck. My mom immediately begins commenting on how it looked like I had lost even more weight and that the treatment must have been a waste of her money.
“Great, it is just the same ole’ cold hearted mom,” I mutter under my breath. I noticed she turned the wrong way onto the freeway and I asked where we were going. She then decided to let me in on her real plans. She and my father had decided that I could no longer live at home and that I was being sent to live with my brother. The requirements that I had to meet to come back home, were that I had to gain a predetermined amount of weight (minimum of thirty-two pounds) and attend weekly therapy sessions. Then my therapist has to confirm that I’m healthy enough to return home.
Finally when it came time for me to fly back home to finish high school I had become a new person. When I had first flown out to my brother’s house I felt so rejected by my parents. That feeling is so awful and wretchedly painful, that it just drops your heart into the deepest pits of your stomach. It makes you lose trust in all of those who you had thought you could depend on. Although I would never want to relive the experience, I would never take back the insight I gained through it. Without receiving treatment when I did I would either be dead, or completely miserable. I would not be here today as the confident, strong woman telling you her story.