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Fat Girl Under the Tree
In the bright blue sky overhead; the gently flowing grass. The treads in the old tire swing. I sit quietly under my oak tree and soak in his presence, like a heavy yet comforting weight on my shoulders. An old teacher; an old friend.
He holds in his hand an apple. A gala; pink, with hints of yellow, a single drop of dew rolling down its flesh. He holds it out in front of me, eyes gleaming. Mouth pulled in a sickly smirk.
Two words escape his closed lips, as nothing but a whisper...
It's a test. I continue to face straight ahead, refusing to look him in the eyes. His voice is like poison to my ear, but a sweet one; one you can't help but drink.
“Look at me, Jill.” He coaxes, inching closer and closer. I strain not to, fighting my internal battle. My stomach growls, and I clutch it as inconspicuously as I can. He notices-I can tell-but remains patiently quiet. He knows he will eventually get what he wants.
God, am I hungry. I hate to be, don't want to be, but the truth is I am. I can't help it.
The gala taunts me.
I know what will happen if I give in; the guilt, the shame, the self-hatred will flood in and drench me, straight to the bone. But I'm so hungry, and that apple looks good, so good, so ridiculously good...
I get slapped across the face.
“No.” The tone is sharp and stern, like scolding a dog. It hurts.
I watch the apple roll down the hill, slowing and eventually stopping in the overgrown grass below. My stomach groans in protest.
“You know better.”
And I do. I have for about three years now, but everyone makes mistakes.
There was a time when Ed's harsh voice, his physical abuse, would have been enough to reduce me to tears. Now I simply stare ahead and follow his directions, numb. Because I know there's no way out anymore. Every day is the same; Ed holding out a single apple, refusing to give me satisfaction, or a thousand of them, allowing me to gorge myself but to then throw them back up into a giant metal sink.
He shoves my face in it; forcing me to look at my half-digested mess.
At one point, I cared. I fought, I tried; I had hope. But after you 6th trip to an inpatient treatment program, for individuals struggling with eating disorders, that hope diminishes. All that's left is the bitter truth:
This will be my life.
I'm in my field, under my tree, with Ed leering over my shoulder. In the distance I can see other trees, identical to my own. Skinny people underneath their branches. I've seen them before, almost all of them. I've sat next to them in the hospital day room, heard them “silently” jog in the showers, watched as they fought tooth and nail to not eat, not eat, anything but eat.
They all look the same. Act the same; like robots, puppets, all deep under Ed's control.
But one by one, day after day, I see them leave the shade, the security, and walk down the hill. Sometimes I can see Ed being left behind, curled up in a ball of self-pity. Other times, he's walking down the hill alongside his emaciated puppet, as they...well, there's no way to put this lightly. As they walk to the grave. Their tree remains for a few days, but then rots, leaving nothing behind. Nothing but an empty lot, where another tree will one day be grown, with another skinny person sitting beneath.
And that is the difference. The single difference between me and the others.
The people under those trees are skinny, while I am not.
“You're fat.” Ed says, matter-of-factly. I look down at my stomach, my thighs and calves, my arms, and I can't help but agree.
I wonder, sometimes, if one day I will be the only one left in the field. The last one standing, per se. It seems plausible; I'm not strong-minded like the others, not able to overcome this, nor skinny enough to...well, you know.
I will forever be here, not dieing, but not necessarily living either.
“Just do as I say. I'll make you pretty, and skinny. I'll make you love yourself. Then...then you can leave me.”
It's the only glimmer of hope I have anymore. The thought that if I follow Ed's plans exactly, I'll reach that place of self-satisfaction I've been in search of for so long.
Perhaps, with enough self-discipline...
But I'm not stupid. Over the years, the inpatient, outpatient, residential, and partial programs, the CBT and DBT classes, Life Balance, OT, Medical Education...
I hope these words mean nothing to you.
They only do to the mentally distressed.
But the point is, I know where the road eventually ends. People I've met, neighbors to my own little tree, have died. Substantially killed themselves. But at the moment, death seems better than this numbness. This despair and dread that goes along with the future outcome of my life.
Wheelchair by 30; death by 55.
I'm not being dramatic; or, at least, I'm not trying to be. I'm trying to be honest.
I know this isn't a life. I know it's not healthy and I need help; not from those around me, but from myself. I need to courage to come up from under my tree and into the sunlight. No one can do it but me.
But like I said, I'm numb.
One in five people with an eating disorder dies, and at the rate I'm going...my chances don't look too good.
Ed couldn't be happier.