The battle

October 12, 2008
I was eight years old and the studio’s heat was unbearable, though outside it was thirty-two degree’s. The nutcracker was coming up, I honestly can’t say I remember what my part in it was, but I remember I was not completely pleased with it. Our costumes were always notorious for being absolutely hideous, though when they came in, it minus well have been another holiday to add to the season.
The girls at the dance studio all had little quirks to them. Cindy had ridiculously long hair, Sheridan was a little on the plump side and only quoted Disney Channel, Gina was attached to some teddy bear, and Lisa somehow always had the Star of David drawn somewhere on her body. Ironically though It may come to believe, that they all were overly critical of me. My parents didn’t want me on the competition team. The squad was too much money, time, stress, and drama. For that reason, the girls always held a slight grudge to me.

Her voice killed my ears. It was Nicole, our dance instructor. I always was the one to fit in the smallest costume, and they counted on me to fit into them.

“LISA? Girls, someone get Ms.Lisa, we are having a problem getting this on. A little tight around the hips.”
The smirks of the girls echoed inside me and were haunting. Right then and there I remember looking at myself in the mirror, and getting worried. Why wasn’t this fitting me? I gave a long hard glance at my reflection and started to see a curvier tummy then normal, my thighs looked absolutely huge to me. I knew it was a bad thought, but I couldn’t control it. It was only beginning.

I never quite thought had too big of a problem growing up. In my head I knew it was wrong what I was thinking, but I thought every girl went through it. In sixth grade I was in the car with my mother on the way to my Poppy and Nana’s to meet my brother Danny, and the idea of me thinking I was fat came up. She grinned at it, and said there was nothing to worry about. When we got there, I opened up my McDonalds mean faster then you could talk.

“Hey Hayden, can you eat faster? My god. You little chunk, ha, little miss fatty we got here?”

I can remember the exact face my mom gave my brother. It was always instantly there if any of the brothers made a “playful” remark. You could say I’m usually a tough girl. Suddenly I broke out in tears, a shock to me and my family.

“Mom, what is this?”

“In the car today Hayden was trying to tell me she was fat.”

He laughed for a good two minutes. Finally, he did what was so-called an apology. I never quite thought he was telling me the truth.

In fourth grade I met my first group of best friends, Jamie McKelly and Lindsey Fade. We were all inseparable. Jamie was the athletic gymnast who was absolutely hilarious. She was so modest and knew how to be there for someone. Lindsey was a confused girl. She was spoiled, dramatic, and hard to decipher. She has gone through so many hard times though who have shaped the person she is today. Underneath her ego laid a girl who was a huge dreamer, and cared about others so much.

I always was jealous of the two of them. Jamie had the best ab’s, I was a freak about how stomachs looked. Lindsey was overly spoiled. Since I could never convince my parents the way she did, I started to work on being more like Jamie. She gave me her gymnastic workouts, and I would do them whenever I can. When my family gathered around the living room for a movie or a show, I’d be in the floor doing 300-500 push-up’s a night. I gained what I wanted, though the obsession grew only worse and worse.

Over the years, Jamie became more and more distant. By summer going into seventh grade, I never saw much of her. I felt so cool around Lindsey, for reasons today I still can’t comprehend. The two of us grew as what I swore was sisters. That year we joined cross-country. It kept me in the best shape, though something triggered me that I still wasn’t “perfect” yet. I took no action in these thoughts though. When the season ended, so did our friendship. Lindsey met my friends occasionally hung out with from the year before, Meghan and Lydia.

It was ironic to me, they were completely different people. They spoke their mind whenever, and didn’t care if you disapproved. Often, people either loved or hated them for it. Lindsey would go along with whatever and change her mind like the seasons. Together the girls became intolerable. I still hung out with them, however I was an outcast. For one day it was just me and Lindsey hanging out. I missed the way we used to talk and laugh incredibly. I had loads of fun that day. We got the idea that it would be nice to tan. The winter winds are terrible here. So the first day it hits seventyish-degree’s with a little sun, we jumped straight to the beach chairs. As I was putting on my bathing suit, I was struck with one conversation that would stick with me for years to come.

“Hayden, what happened?”

“I died last night from AIDS, and became re-born. Sorry, thought you got the memo.”

“Hayden, no. I’m being serious. I mean…look at you now. You used to have abs. They’re gone now? I mean, your legs look a little bigger too.”

At the time, I was 4’10. I weighed approximately 94 pounds. These thoughts kept re-entering my head. At first I played along with me caring, though by the end of the conversation I was totally convinced.

That day I rode my bike up to Target. Took a twenty I somehow had, and bought myself an extensive amount of workout food and slim-fast shake’s. Alongside, I got a food diary and wrote down what I am carefully and thoroughly.

The days were passing, and I couldn’t hold up. I have always been the girl at parties never afraid to eat the staled chips that the parents put out, just to check on everyone. Food and I just had what someone could call a nice relationship.

My family has always been so close. If we weren’t family, you’d probably never see us together. It’s such an extremely unbecoming blend of complete opposites. My mother is Tina. For her being one hundred percent Italian, its stating the obvious that she’s a cook. She loves to prepare so much food that could feed the population of all the malnutritioned people in Nigeria. She disorganized, and just goes with whatever. She is also a super religious, and will sing unnecessarily loud in church. Nothing’s ever absolute, which makes her easy to relate to. My father Sean is from all the islands and countries of United Kingdom, and supposedly Ireland. He’s very focused and always has his mind set on something. There’s always something he’s after.

Everyone says their parents are the most influential people, it’s something you’re just supposed to say. It’s undifferentiated for when someone who you have an awkward relationship asks you how you are doing. It’s robotic just to say, “Good! And you?” Though honestly, my brothers have left the greatest mark on me, and will always continue to do so. Dan is the oldest, at the age of twenty he has been through the biggest whirlwind of trials and experiences. He tends to have the worst luck out of anyone I know; though he soldiers on and is one of the toughest people I know. He is a songwriter, and musician, arty, and free spirit. Jason is the middle child, though the perfect poster child. He is a star athlete at basically anything he puts his mind to. As straight-a student, he could get away with anything. He doesn’t ever put up with anyone’s crap. After Danny left, we grew so close that there was nothing I couldn’t talk to him about…expect boyfriend’s and mother nature’s monthly surprises.

The two together made me one of the strongest people. I didn’t put up with anything I shouldn’t have. Though it would take a turn for the worse, that no one was expecting.

One day Tina and I were coming home from a weekly, worthless trip to target that usually led to roaming and staring at things we wouldn’t buy. I only had a muffin that day from bakery down in Little Italy, and I was trying to keep it up. My mother bought me protein bar, and I went on with my day.

“Hayden, I want to check your progress book. Did you get your grade back in math for the binder?”

The term Progress Book was feared, I hated it more then anything. I’m nothing but mediocre at school. So it wasn’t cheerful news when it came to checking up on my grades.

I felt stressed out. I was going through a bunch of things with my friends, my grades were suffering, and I felt extremely self-conscious. The thought then entered my mind. It sounded genius, and perfect for my situation. I walked to the bathroom and look down onto the toilet. I took a good hard look. I kneeled down, and began. At that moment, I would have made the worse decision of my life.

I told my mother. I couldn’t live like this, I was stressing over eating so much. So, I wrote a note to her. Never once did she comment on or about the note to me until I brought it up. It was a “Stage” and told me it was harmful. I continued, waiting for the stage to end. Soon that stage led into a lifestyle. I sustained this routine for a year. I had phases where I would do it once every other day, to doing it twice a day.

In that following summer I changed myself into someone who I always wanted to be. I hung out with mostly the girls from a neighboring private school, I met boys who genuinely liked being with me, and I wasn’t wondering about the “he said-she said” game. I still felt this weight on my shoulders. Something inside had always brought me shattered.

As the leaves changed and the winds blew faster, I lived my life to a new level. I had a new group of friends who cared more about me then I ever thought was possible. I met a boy who kept me in line. Jack A. was a freshman at the time, I was in eight grade. He was a pretty, pretty boy. I became another kind of close with him. He thought I was beautiful and accepted me for everything. He was carefree, and would one day find out about my secret fixation.

Something kept me down. I should have been so unbelievably graceful for the people and actions of others that consistently surrounded me. Though, I just was oblivious to what was going on. I told my mom two more times that year about my problem, though I got the same response. My mood only got worse. By February, people saw a definite change in me. I stopped caring about myself, and my grades sunk an all-time low. I wore baggy clothes everyday, moreover stopped being there for people who meant the most.

I was a faithful diary writer and loved writing in it. In seventh grade, my mom read in it. I didn’t think it was possible for me been madder in my life. Around the same time the following year, I was having a regular day in school. It was an exciting night for me though. I was going to a concert of our family friend who had finally got her name out and was slowly but surely getting famous. My mom and I got in a typical heated argument we were having lately. I was playing with the beakers with my best-friend Ava in science, when I suddenly got called down to the office. My mom called the school to have me picked up. Instantly, I had a flashback to last year when this happened. I had nothing important going on. My grandma died the month before, so I knew it wasn’t relating to her. I felt perfectly fine, no need for any doctor appointments. I had an idea in the back of my head what it was, but I didn’t think she would go against my trust again. Soon found out I was wrong. I’m not one to scream, or yell for that matter. While driving home from the school, I shrieked so loud at her that other cars were looking at me as if I was a child abducted. She promised me she would tell nobody the things she read, and begged for forgiveness. I was not giving in.

On the contrary, that night was one of the funniest nights of my life. I had to stage my relationship with my mom that night though. Sidney’s mom came along with mine, so I didn’t speak to her too much. Sidney was one of the girls invited. She was one of my best friends, and honestly is such an outspoken girl who has everything going great in her life. Her mom is a great woman, always welcome’s people in open arms and ready to be there to talk. My mom took full advantage of this, and told her about my reoccurring problem.

The news traveled to Sidney, and eventually to everyone else in my group. I continued to be in my funk. One day, I get a voicemail from her. There was when I was struck by the news that everyone knew. No one knew when or how to approach me on the subject, and Sidney with her personality, had enough of it
“Hayden. Listen, its Sid. I can’t take seeing you like this. At all, you’re not the girl who I used to once know and its getting out of hand that no one can step up to fricken help you. I know about your bulimia. In fact, everyone does. We haven’t known how to confront you or say something without putting it the wrong direction. Everyone loves you, why are you doing this? Ava is haunted by the fact this is going on. I deeply apologize for this being the longest voicemail in history. Kinda, I mean I actually don’t because you’re just stupid and won’t pick up your damn phone. I love you girl, I’m only trying to help. Please, just call back.”
I had the biggest turn around that night. I sat down my mom down, and cried so hard for help. I was dry heaving for a good 3 hours straight, it was the worse feeling ever. My mom wasn’t ready to believe I had a problem. She was saying I just needed to pray and I would be okay. After days of me asking, and my brothers stepping in and letting their voice be heard, she set a doctors appointment up.

I walk into the clinic, and I felt so nervous. I was tearing up sitting there, watching little kids play on the germ infested toys set out. I see a girl sitting with her mother, and I watch as she fiddles with her designer bag’s straps. They call my name, and I jumped. As I waited for the doctor, I stared at the crappy designs on the wall of an astronaut. Thinking to myself, I knew I could have painted it better. The doctor walked in, and honestly I don’t think I can remember the appointment. I was in another world for that hour and a half. I walked out knowing that I tore my throat, my acid levels were messed up, my heart was in terrible condition, and that I would need to go to rehab.

The term rehab has gotten us no where lately, celebrities use it to gain media, and learn nothing. They kick back on the old habits and enjoy their three minutes of fame. I was not happy hearing this news. I was pissed. Pissed that I made myself get this, I had to be living with this disorder that drags on to me. Suddenly, I questioned everything. Why did this happen, where did that go wrong? It was the worse state of mind I’ve been in. Though, continually my friends and Jack were always there, supporting me.

The summer was miserable. I spent most of my days getting monitoring inside my house. My mom would follow me into every room with a sink or a toilet and be over me like a hawk. I went to therapy and had a check-up at least once a week.

I hated it. I thought it was my entire fault, I couldn’t believe I would be so stupid to do this to myself. Now, I can step back and realize it’s a known disease, I could not control the thoughts entering my head, yet I can control how I react to them. It’s been 3 years later. I’m stronger then ever. I learned imperfection is beauty, and sometimes you just need to find the right voice inside your head, and break free.

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SecretSasha said...
Dec. 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm
I can relate to this story so much! My mom read my journal and found out about my bulimia and wants me to 'talk to someone' meaning a therapist. I don't really want to though, even though I purge 2-4 times a day, 5 or 6 on really bad days. I'm glad that you got help! Great piece
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