I expected Bailey to deem me insane, but to my surprise she only looked concerned. Bailey knew where I was coming from. She had been there. How relieving and utterly comforting it was to read what her eyes were saying and to know that someone has been down the same road as me and come back healed. Thank God we were in a public place or I would have broke down crying and melted into my own puddle of hot salty tears. But, I remained composed the whole time as I willingly revealed more and more about my disorder. Bailey spoke next.
“I would weigh myself and freak out, literally scream at the scale, if I gained an ounce. It consumed me. It dominated every part of my life.”
My fits with the scale were in silence. I let my anger out in tears or on the treadmill. I would weigh myself three times a day: when I woke up, after practice, and after dinner. I would refrain from drinking water after practice so I could go home and see how much I lost. Never mind that whatever I drank after working out was only water weight, I had to see how low I could go. But lower was never low enough. Each time I stepped on the scale lighter than the last time, this tingling sensation, like some sort of twisted excitement, would shoot from my toes to my fingers. The satisfaction remained until food touched my lips. I would no longer weigh what the scale said before if I ate. But I know I had to eat. I wanted to run. That’s where the irony comes in; the only thing that kept me going was the very thing that released the demon to start with. Pretty fucked up if you ask me (or anyone else). I was aware of all the complications of starving yourself, but they didn’t matter because I was running well and I looked good. Surely I wasn’t damaging anything if I was performing at the level I was. I have ever been so dead wrong in my life. I didn’t have a period from August to January and then not again until late April. I lied to the doctors by keeping track of when I should have my menstrual cycle. It sure is a pity when someone with such an attention for detail uses the gift to harm herself.
I told Bailey all of this and she listened as intently as ever. Damn, she is an awesome listener. I don’t think she interrupted me once. I suddenly felt uneasy and even nervous when she spoke about the next part of her journey. Bailey told me how a camp she attended out in Arizona, Remuda, I believe it’s called, changed her life. That’s how she is where she is now: healed, strong, ready to help others, and most importantly at peace with her body. At Remuda she discovered she wasn’t alone in her habits and way of thinking. Many girls out there had been abused as well. My face contorted when she said that. If I have come this far sharing my story then there was no use trying to hide anything. I told her briefly about my abuse. I was slowly, or rather quickly in the grand scheme of things, allowing all my dark, shameful secrets seep out. I felt like a clay statue, hardened in my ways and unwilling to accept advice. But the sands of time are wearing my guard thin. All I need are tears now, my tears, to saturate this clay covering. Then it would melt into a puddle of mud and I could walk away clean and able to breathe fresh air.
Bailey asked if I had ever considered going to a treatment center like that. I said I hadn’t. I don’t know if I am ready for that yet. Then again, who is ready to go? Very few, I suppose. Our conversation continued as we discussed the lingering effects of anorexia. Her hair was brittle, my bones were thin. She talked about how alive she feels now and how through overcoming her illness her perception on life has totally changed. She lets her body be the guide and the rest just flows. I know I should want that freedom and self-respect, but I just don’t feel it. We are at two different places of a possibly unending journey. Even physical breaking hasn’t brought me to tears yet. My clay shell may be cracked, but it remains intact.
“That’s why I decided not to run. I didn’t want being around girls thinner and faster than me to trigger anything. I know I would end up in trouble again. Now I run on my own. I sign up for races and run when I feel like it and rest when I don’t.”
What an awesome attitude. When I get myself out of this funk, I want an attitude just like that: free and full of self-acceptance. I don’t think you can ever truly “recover” from an eating disorder, but you can control it. Then again, maybe you can. I don’t know if I can. It’s like an addiction, you can be sober and you can say no to a drink, but there is always that little voice, that little demon living inside you head telling you take a sip, not to eat, to light up. It’s up to you to suppress that voice. That is where strength comes in, personal strength only God can see, and the incomprehensible will to heal that begins with self-forgiveness.