You Don't Understand

February 1, 2010
By , Calgary, Canada
You don’t understand. You never could.
Let me try to paint a picture for you. See if you can imagine what it’s like.
You wake up early in the morning to trudge down to the basement because you need to work out - that’s what your kinesiologist says. You set the treadmill to 3.3 miles per hour at a slight incline and start walking. You start to breathe heavily and you think to yourself, God, how out of shape I am, that just walking makes me feel like this. And then you check your heart rate - it’s up around 160 already. And you want to stop, because you’re so used to quitting that it just comes naturally. But then you look down, at your ever-expanding stomach, and you think, I can’t stop. I’ll do the full half hour. Plus, if I’m late getting upstairs, I have a better excuse to skip breakfast. Because that’s what’s constantly on your mind - what you’re going to do about your next meal.
So you finish your “work-out”, thinking, that was a pathetic excuse for a work-out, I walked on the treadmill for thirty minutes. And yet you’re sweaty and bright red, and as you bend over to touch your toes, your glasses slide down your dripping nose, and as you straighten, the room spins - but you know you won’t be eating anything anytime soon. And somehow, you’re pleased. I’m getting somewhere, you think. Finally.
You head back up the stairs; you make your bed and tidy your room, laying out your uniform for school. You lay a princess blouse on your chair, thinking how it’s supposed to have a flattering cut, but you remember the comments your friend made one day, about how nothing can flatter the shape of your body. So you search frantically for your sweater vest, checking the time - you have to get in the shower now or you’ll be late. Found it - great. You throw your workout clothes on your bed, and pull the elastic out of your hair, then run to start the shower. Crap! You remember that it’s Friday, time to weigh yourself. You dash across the hallway to your parents’ bedroom, and step onto the scale. You’re down one pound. One. Pound. In the last week.
After all that work?! You momentarily forget the time, staring at those blue numbers that flashed on the screen. But there’s nothing you can do, so you slowly step off the scale and head back to your shower. A cold shower, because it burns more calories. You scrupulously avoid looking in the mirror, because the sight of you naked makes you want to throw up and/or never eat again. Ugh. You hurry through your morning routine, finally getting dressed with just minutes to spare. You run down the stairs, gratefully accepting your packed bag from your mom, and taking a piece of toast with peanut butter and an apple from her hand. You give her a hug, and run out the door and down the street to the bus. While waiting for the always-late bus to come, you throw your breakfast into your lunch box, knowing you’ll just throw it away later…
You sleep through the morning bus ride, falling asleep listening to “Courage” and “Beauty from Pain” by Superchick. And any other Ana songs you can think of. They’re comforting - motivating.
As soon as you get to school, you open your locker and remove your jacket, then reach into the container stuck to your locker door and pull out a red beaded bracelet. It has three dragonflies embedded between the shiny red beads. You need it with you - it’s an Ana thing. It reminds you not to eat. You feel so bare without it. So you go about your day. A normal day at school… You work hard through your two morning classes, not only on your schoolwork but on keeping a smile on your face. You stay quiet, but not so quiet as to worry your friends.
Lunch arrives. You meet up with your friends, waiting with them in the line at the cafeteria, and then sitting with them while they eat. Half of you is hungry, so hungry, and the other half… You’re ashamed to admit it, but the other half feels superior to your friends because you’re so strong and you like watching them eat, while you know you haven’t eaten all day. They’ve gotten used to you not eating - sure, they know why, but they can’t do anything and they’re tired of the arguments. So they leave you alone.
Towards the end of lunch, you return to your locker. You look both ways for teachers and walk purposefully to the trash can at the end of the hallway, carrying your lunch. You throw everything away, carefully dirtying your fork in your lunch and making sure everything looks appropriately “eaten”. Your heart is pounding. No one would think you were doing anything wrong, but you know you are. So you hurry away from the “scene of the crime” back to your locker, and ready your bag for the afternoon as usual.
The afternoon passes uneventfully. You have a headache, but what else is new? There are no tests this afternoon so it doesn’t matter. You’re exhausted, but when your friends ask what’s wrong and you say you have a headache, they turn their heads away in disgust. You understand why. You’ve alienated most of your friends, or at least you can’t talk to them about this topic anymore. That’s alright. You know somewhere that it’s for the best. May not always feel that way, but… you know it’s really the best.
You finish up the school day and head back to your locker, throwing everything into your backpack and walking to the bus. As soon as you sit down again, you feel the cold, hard glass of your bracelet on your wrist. Damn it! You take it off, quickly, before anyone sees it, and shove it into the deepest part of your backpack where your Mom never looks. Your friend joins you on the bus - he’s so great about Ana, he knows about it and even supports you in it. But you know he doesn’t actually care at all - he’s said as much. So half of you loves him for supporting you, for being the one person you can be honest with, and the other half of you hates him for the comments he’s made about your weight.
You make it through the bus ride in somewhat of a daze - you’re dizzy and have a headache, and you’re oh so tired. But when you get off the bus, the cold air refreshes you as you walk up the hill to your house, and you’re able to greet your Mom cheerfully. You grab a quick snack - all the while thinking you shouldn’t - of an apple and some crackers and get out your homework. You do homework or play on the computer until dinner time, which you eat normally - thinking there will come a time to cut back on supper, but… not tonight.
After dinner, that’s when the hard times set in. You’re sitting upstairs while your parents are downstairs, and nobody can hear you eat. So you pull out a knife and the peanut butter and honey, and bread or crackers, and go to town. Or sometimes crackers with butter and icing sugar. Anything in the house. It’s binge eating at its extreme, and you don’t understand it. You’re not hungry. You’re not overly sad or lonely. You just eat.
And so ends your day. You stuff yourself silly for no reason, and then you go to bed. And while you’re laying in bed, you think about how terrible you were today. You vow to be better, and you apologize to yourself and to Ana, who you sometimes think of as a real person. And then you feel like you’re going to cry, so you curl into a ball and make your mind think of something else. Usually it’s not happy thoughts, but it distracts you until you can fall asleep. Sometimes it’s an hour and a half before that works.
And the worst part is, you know you’ll do the exact same thing tomorrow.
You know it will continue indefinitely - stuck in a never-ending wheel of fatness and anorexia somehow swirled together because you’ll never be thin. You just don’t have the willpower. And you can’t stop, because that’s giving up. And “you’ve come too far to take orders from a cookie.” But evidently, you haven’t.
You’re letting food run your life, and there’s no way to change it. You don’t want to see a way to change it. This is all you know.
You’re fighting an uphill battle, and you’re tired. Not just the kind of tired that sets in after a day without food, but emotionally tired. Exhausted. And you know it’s never going to stop.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Pure.Awesomeness said...
Feb. 26, 2010 at 9:33 am
I totally uderstand this. This has reallly touched me :)
lgrs_88 replied...
Feb. 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm
Thank you so much. Yours was the first comment I've ever gotten on this site, and it's really encouraging. :)
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