| from Instagram #transformationtuesday share on 10/22/19 |
On the left is a photo I took about 8 months ago. I weighed 105lbs. I’m 5’5″. On the right is me now at 114lbs (and pretty sure I’m still the same height). I never intended to be anorexic, I only intended to die. . .
It was September of 2015. I was a healthy 134 lbs. Like many people, arguably especially women due to the disproportionate amount of worth placed on their physical exterior, I had the horrible habit of hating on my body. I hated my “love-handles”, hated my “big bubble” butt, hated the fat on my inner thighs that made them rub together and chafe on a hot summer day in a skirt. I wouldn’t wear tube-top shirts because I hated the fat that would get squeezed out between my breasts and armpits. And I hated that I didn’t have enough fat in my breasts! Hate, hate, hate!
This isn’t a story about starving for weight loss, persé…
Despite all of that hate, September does not mark the month in which I decided to start starving myself to drop weight (disclaimer: not recommended). But September is the month in which I dropped from 134 lovely pounds to 103 pounds soaking wet (and belieeeeve me, my dreadlocks can hold some weight in water). It was a 5am-ish phone call that triggered my weight loss.
It was trauma.
Even now, as I write those words, my heart is pounding in my chest. My throat is tight. I can feel my eyes starting to burn. I want to cry. But I’m here now and as long as you’re here we can get through this painful story together. I promise not to dive too deep–I can’t breathe down there, either.
So: September 2015, 5am-ish, phone call. It’s my older brother on the phone. As history has shown, my family members only call me before dawn when someone in our family has just died. Why would this time be any different? Well, it wasn’t any different, and. . .
It was mom.
I can’t even begin to go into how complicated her loss was, that is truly worthy of an entire novel. Needless to say, it was untimely (she was only 55 and it was sudden), it was un-fucking-fortunate, and it was devastating to myself and my entire family. We were, for the most part, still raw from losing my big sister suddenly in 2008–the catalyst that set my mom on her downward spiral that eventually destroyed her. For some of us, moving forward from that was intensely interrupted by our mother’s inability to move forward that was peppered by unhealthy fixations and other destructive behaviors that eventually drove most of us into self-protective distances. Losing a loved one is a horror like no other. I’ve lost enough to know that one of the first things you wonder is, “When was the last time I told them I loved them? Did they know how much I loved them?” These questions hit especially hard when there was virtually no contact for a couple of years leading up to the loss. Basically I went from hating my body to focusing all of that hate on myself for “having let my mother die without knowing how much I loved her”.
I didn’t believe that I deserved to live.
Food is sustenance. Food is life. After 21 days without food you die. Instead of eating enough food I basically just drank coffee and alcohol. It’s not that I wanted to die, it’s just that I didn’t want to keep living. I didn’t care to. I cared about my husband, my family, my friends, but I didn’t care about me and I was so deep in my pain that I couldn’t grasp that hurting myself was hurting those I loved, too. Somehow I couldn’t hold the two realities in mind at the same time–that dying meant hurting those I loved. I just wanted the pain to end. Deep depression and anger had destroyed my appetite, anyway, so it was no challenge to just stop eating. Plus I didn’t have the motivation to feed myself–I wasn’t worth the effort I had decided. Well then, not feeding myself meant less chores to do and I didn’t have the energy or care to do chores, anyway, so that was a win in my book. It was the perfect storm for stress-induced anorexia.
I remember having this terrible idea that if I was going to survive it was only going to be because my husband kept insisting on feeding me, which meant essentially I was going to keep living only because he wanted me to. The onus was on him. Incredibly unfair, I know, but grief is not always logical and it is rarely merciful. So even though I starved myself in a quasi-passive effort to disappear from my painful reality I did have a hearty meal each day because my husband would lovingly cook me a dinner nearly every night when he’d get home from work. These meals kept me alive but the drastic weight loss meant consequences for my body, to include the loss of heart muscle. It required time and therapy for me to start feeding myself again and to have enough self-love to grab a glass of water instead of a glass of wine or another cup of coffee. Breakfast has always been my favorite meal so the self-feeding began with that. Eventually I began to bother with lunch, too, and got myself up to 108-lbs for a time. The journey to gain weight became an epic yo-yo affair.