The Butterfly in Flames

“We’re having steak for dinner tonight. It’s almost ready, so go wash your hands,” my mom told me as I walked through the living room go get my water from the kitchen. I nodded and wandered back to my bedroom on the other side of the house. Already, I knew that tonight’s dinner would be sparse. Most of it would end up in my napkin, and the little bit I ate would become a sacrifice to the Great Porcelain god later that night. Even the idea of dinner was a sensory overload that encouraged my sickness.

The majority of my seventh grade year had been spent in a knee-high cast or a walking boot after I broke my ankle. My love affair with eating disorders began shortly after I was released from the hospital. My pain medication made me eat more; therefore I gained a lot of weight in a short amount of time. Looking in the mirror pained me- the tall, willowy beauty had been replaced by an overweight chunk in a wheelchair. Not eating was hard, but convincing myself to take just one bite was harder. Nobody had noticed, so what was the harm? I would be transformed into a “prettier”, skinnier girl than I had been before and it was all the better. Wearing size zero pants was what every pre-teen girl dreamed of. None of my friends would have to know the truth and I would never have to tell a lie. “Easy as pie, minus all of the calories,” I thought to myself. Little did I know that my journey would take me to places darker than the blackest night.

I can’t describe the terror you feel when someone discovers that you force yourself to throw up after every meal. Words cannot express the pain of hearing two of your best friends sharing their fear of your skeletal appearance. Like a rock lodged in my stomach, the terror of looking in a mirror held all of the dread one would reserve for the last day of school. Seven and a half months spent in my own personal hell could not prepare me for the moment of truth. With my best friend by my side, I stood in front of the grimy, dust covered bathroom mirrors and whispered the words that had been taken out of my vocabulary. “You are beautiful.” The spell was broken; the butterfly released from its confining cocoon.

Four years later, I stand as a testament to all young women. No matter what size clothing you wear or how fat you think you are, you are beautiful. True beauty is inside of you and no one can take that confidence away. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Playing the mean girl to yourself only hurts you more. Smile, take a deep breath and remember that there is always something more important to live for.





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