I once heard someone say that anorexia is a very manipulating disease. You become so tiny that everyone wants to take care of you, hold you, baby you. You look at yourself in the mirror and you seem so perfect, the way the bones on your face connect tightly to the bones on your cheeks, the way your eyes bulge so they look big. Nice and big, just like a baby. The way your breasts flatten until they are so small you seem like a boy, and the way you never lose your childhood, and never become an adult, or a woman because you're still a little kid.
And boys. You are their little jewel. Their tiny secret. You're so tiny that when you wear their sweatshirts, you seem so cute. The sweatshirt looks so big that you want to snuggle in it forever. And then they reach out to hug you, and you - in their oversized sweatshirt with your legs folded inside making you look like a gentle little ball - feel like you're a treasure.
And girls. Girls tell you to eat more. That you look like a stick. That they are worried. And you think to yourself, They are just jealous. You think they wish they were as perfect as you. As tiny as you. They tell you that guys like girls with curves. With meat. That they want something to grab. So gain weight. Gain weight, you anorexic
b---h. Girls are all b---hes, you say. Their jealousy is eating them up inside.
You go into delis and stand there and smell the food. You look at the food. When you are anorexic, food becomes your life. You think about food all the time, smell food, dream about food. You used to dream about guys, about love, about family, now you dream about a Quarter Pounder from McDonald's. Think about its smell. How it tastes. How it would feel entering your mouth. Memory is a good thing for anorexics. So is imagination.
You dream about that pizza entering your mouth. The tingling sensation. The smell. The taste. And then you think about the second that pizza is gone. Finished. There is nothing left but crumbs. And you realized you've sinned. How can you love something that's so bad for your body? You think food is a drug. You think the pizza is evil. It manipulated you into eating it, when what really manipulated you is the disease itself.
Then you look at all those girls who eat a lot and aren't fat; it's "genetic." And you say to yourself, it's genetic. Me? Oh, I eat a lot. It's the metabolism, you say. The truth is I wish I could gain weight. I eat and eat - but nothing.
But there comes a point where you see some girls eating in the cafeteria. And they look good - healthy. They are not fat, but they are not sticks, either. And they are laughing and talking with half a chicken sandwich in their mouth. One puts mustard on her hot dog and takes a big bite. And then these boys come over to her holding a bag of pretzels and the girls are laughing and flirting, begging them for a pretzel, acting all cute. "You pig! Look how much you eat!" some guy tells her. And she just laughs.
And for a tiny moment - just a second - you wish you were like that. So free. So careless. But then you look at pictures of yourself back then, the ones you took from the album so that nobody would see. The only picture left is in the bottom drawer, tucked underneath your socks, and then you forget everything you just saw because you never want to be that person again.
Everyone tells you you are pretty. Nobody's ever told you that before. You're special. You're so cute, tiny and lovable. And pretty. So pretty. You don't want to screw that up by gaining weight, do you? You look in the mirror. You're perfect. So small. So tiny. So pretty. So skinny.
You smell those cookies on the counter and start to drool because you're imagining them in your mouth. They taste so good. You want another, and another. "Want me to make you something, sweetie?" "No, it's okay, I ate already." But you didn't. And she knows you didn't. Silence.
You want that bite. You need to get out of that house. That monster who pushes food in your mouth is there. You want your own family. Your own kids. Then you'll be able to have complete control of what goes in your mouth. But how can you have kids if you don't have your period?
You're torn. You sit in your room and the floor is so cold. You take the oversized sweatshirt, tuck your feet underneath it and snuggle up like a little ball in the corner. You have no behind, so the bones in your butt hurt when they touch the floor. You have no cushion. No support. You're broken. Lost. You want everyone to leave you alone. To go away. They're just jealous. You start to cry.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.