The Paradox of Lament

January 13, 2010
By Anonymous

What do tears mean? Is crying a sign of weakness or strength that one has the confidence to share one’s emotions? If crying had background music, would it be a glorious classical melody with dissonant harmony or upbeat notes that one can sing along to? If shedding tears had a feeling, would it be scratchy and unforgiving wool or tranquil silk? I believe that crying is a symphony of every tone- bird calls under domineering bass notes. It is inviting to feel, and then surprisingly itchy. Tears are a paradox.

The day that I best experienced this confusion, this quagmire, was January 25, 2009. That cold day was the period of 24 hours that I shed the most tears in my life. It started off normally, with the mundane routine of waking up and facing the debate reeling inside my head of whether or not to eat breakfast. Then, after angrily gulping down a banana against my will, I set about getting read. But this day, I didn’t have to get ready for school. Instead, I was sojourning to what would be a surprisingly haunting venture- I was going to the doctor. But this wasn’t just any doctor’s office, with too-warm waiting rooms and awkward examining tables. Instead, I was impelled to visit a specialist for eating disorders in Hershey.

After the nerve-wracking car ride to Hershey filled with the anxious tightening of my abdominals accompanied by equally terrified thoughts, I arrived at the Eating Disorders Clinic. There I was greeted by a too-friendly Dr. Levine, whom I am convinced to this day was a hippie at some point in his life. He shook my hand as I took in his frizzy hair, ergonomically giant shoes that looked like they belonged to a female and a wristful of bangles. He then led me into a small room that smelled like only hospitals can. Dr. Levine explained that I should change into a hospital gown and then be examined by a nurse.

I changed into the dingy blue gown and struggling to make my cold fingers tie the cotton appendages and enclose my skeletal body. A pudgy nurse entered the room, introduced herself as Trish, and invited me to step onto a scale. The evil metal enemy glowered at me and cackled as it reflected the number 92.1 in angular script. How had I allowed myself to plummet from a healthy 110 pounds to a frightening 92? But at the time, I was not terrified by those numbers, but rather pleased by their presence, their irrefutable truth.

Trish looked me deep in the eyes after jotting down the number on a clipboard and said, “Okay.” But that okay didn’t mean, “Allrighty, then! Moving on.” That okay was filled with sorrow and a prayer that it wouldn’t always be a 92.1 pounds looking me in the eye from a scale. She took my pulse, which was a reptilian 36 beats per minute and my blood pressure, which was also too low. Trish then left me to my thoughts as she went to retrieve Dr. Levine.

Tornados of thoughts whipped around me, picking up jagged props innocently sitting around and driving them into my frail and confused body. What are they going to do to me? A slice of windshield stabs my bony thigh. I’m perfectly healthy, aren’t I? A cow passes by me and moos condescendingly. I had been doing everything the doctors told people to do, working out and eating little fat. While these ponderings circled in my mind, I squeezed the chair handles hard and did leg lifts all the while, crzving exercise to save me from this hell of the unknown.

Dr. Levine returned after a few minutes of discussion with my parents. The three of them looked at me with deep grief and presented me with the facts: I was sick, really sick. I had the option of traveling to Hershey daily for an intense three-pronged treatment- medical, nutritional and psychological, where I would receive remedial treatment and my scholastics. Or I could fight this anorexia at home, with the help of professionals and my parents.

This was a Tuesday, and Dr. Levine explained to me in his confusingly confident yet soft voice, “If you don’t gain weight by Friday, you’ll be admitted into the partial patient care program at Hershey. You don’t have a choice.” Food and lack of exercise would now be the essence of my life; what I despised was now my sole source of respite. This was it- the closest I’ve ever been to a life or death situation.

By this time on that January day, tears had already been shed- by my heartbroken father, my petrified mother. Many were still to be shared by skeletal, psychologically unstable me. They were the saddest tears in my fifteen years that have soaked my shirt and caused snot to form a river from my nose. But they were also tears that would bring about much-needed change. Tears can mean hope.

The author's comments:
This vulnerable piece is about an experience of mine that has changed my life.

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