The Attic

August 4, 2010
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When sophomore year ended, I took all my extra baggage, locked it up, and threw away the key. And for a while, everything was quiet. Until the little arrow started moving to the right; in less than a second all those feelings I had worked so hard to bury came rushing back. I guess I must have thrown the key in the attic by mistake.
It’s hard for me to admit that a number on a meaningless scale can change so much. I’ve told myself it doesn’t matter. I’ve tried so hard to believe the clichéd words my friends spit out every time I attempt to vent. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter what they say. This is my body, my image, my self esteem, and only I can change it.
I remember what it felt like to try on my first size small, and actually have it fit. One article of sewn cotton contained every good feeling I ever had about myself. I thrived on that S, I loved it. It was my announcement to world. “Hey, Shannon actually looks good!” For months I stayed small, exercised, and for the most part, ate healthy. I had worked so hard to see myself like this. I wasn’t about to throw it away for half a gallon of chocolate ice cream.
When senior year rolled around, I wasn’t prepared for the stress. EVERYONE expected something from me. There were AP exams, college applications, club meetings, swim practices, homework, driving lessons, friends, family, college rejections, and more importantly, college acceptances. When things got rough, I turned to the only friend who had gotten me through from the beginning: food. I snatched up sweet girl-scout cookies; devoured calorie filled pizza, snacked on grease ridden fries, and drank fat carrying milkshakes. In less than a year I managed to gain back a little less than fifteen of the forty five pounds that I had originally lost.
At first I denied it. I didn’t look any different, or feel any different really. I figured I must have grown taller, so I needed to carry a few extra pounds. But when my jeans were too tight and my favorite dress would no longer zip, I couldn’t deny it any longer. I was slowly slipping back to the girl I once was.
After much thought and contemplation, I realized the obvious. I had looked to food for comfort for years; it was the friend I expected to get me through the rough patches. But most of the time, it was the friend who was bringing me down. It was food that was piling on the pounds, and it was food that forced me to cringe when I looked in the mirror. Perhaps food wasn’t so great after all.
Even when I lose those extra pounds, and go back to a life where food is only a necessity, I know those feelings will never go away. They are something that will haunt me for the rest of my life. For even when I’m on a high, I still don’t love myself. Maybe I never will. It is a struggle I’ll have to face every time I look in the mirror, and I’ve accepted that.

The truth is: letting go isn’t as easy as it seems. We preach the mantra forgive and forget, but in most cases, we rarely do. The human heart is a complex thing. Like a house it’s made up of several stories, the lower floors containing the here and now, and the upper floors containing the past. There is no such thing as letting go. Our hearts forever feel what once consumed our minds. Just because something is in storage, does not mean it’s gone forever.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, be careful what you put in your attic.





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Lilihua This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 13, 2010 at 8:23 am
A wonderful piece. Thanks for sharing. I know what this is like - never really ate for comfort but was terrified of food to the point where I would swallow and swallow or put nothing at all in my mouth. I'm glad you posted this here and I hope it makes it to the magazine.
 
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