3:52 p.m. - 2013-01-27
If I'm brutally honest with myself, I know the catalyst of my shrinking is A. I'm sure she would be horrified if she read this, absolutely appalled, but it's true.
My first really bad fall on the wrong side of the almost-disordered-eating tighterope I'd been walking for years happened when I was 17, and it was more or less because of a girl, too. She was my best friend and I was in love with her. When she went to New Zealand for three weeks during spring break, instead of spending it with me, I put myself on an exercise and diet regime. I think I lost 10 pounds in three weeks and when she came back she told me, "You look like a model." So I set out to lose 10 more.
K was 5'9" and at least 50 pounds heavier than I was and very strong. She loved to hug me hard and then sping me around like a helicopter while I giggled and screamed and held on for dear life. "You're so little," she would say, long before I started the starving routine. (She hated the strarving routine; it's what eventually drove her away. But I didn't know that when I started. I just wanted to be littler, so she would pick me up and swing me every day.)
A. is petite, which makes me feel more Amazonian than swingable; she is a little heavier than I am, but I am a good two inches taller.
But she has started picking me up when she hugs me, and she says now and then, "My God, you are so tiny."
A knows my history with food and knows that I still have issues, but I am sure she has no idea how triggering being picked up, and told I'm tiny, is for me. I like to pretend that I'm tough and practical and I have my shit together, so I think maybe being "tiny" is my primary means of expressing vulnerability. I like to pretend that my weight is not the proverbial "cry for help," but of course it probably is.
If I weighed 95 pounds would she really pick me up more? It didn't work with Kate. Under 100 pounds is not a waiflike look on me; it's cancer patient/concentration camp survivor. And a girlfriend who looks like she needs a nasogastric tube is a liability. Nothing sexy there.
Last weekend A and I went to bone marrow drive at the hospital where she works; I met some of her co-workers and A. told me later that one of her co-workers said I was too thin -- "She's thin, I mean, she is really, really thin. There is such a thing as too thin!" -- and another one defended me, saying, "She's fine; you know you can never be too rich or too thin." A told me this she said, "because I thought you'd be more likely to believe it if it was from an objective source -- if it wasn't coming from me."
"I know I'm too thin," I said. "I think Bridget is full of shit; you can definitely be too rich and too thin."
"Too rich?" A said, changing the subject.
I am not sure what A was trying to tell me. Reassuring me that I am thin enough, or warning me that I'm starting to look obviously anorexic? I suppose that I could ask her. I haven't done that because the little voice in my head says she doesn't notice that I've lost 7-10 pounds since I met her and I'm gunning for more.
(That same voice had me insisting to people that I'd only lost a couple of pounds and not on purpose the summer I was 18, when in fact I'd lost about 40 and was tipping the scales at about 75 pounds.)
I've spent the last five years trying to eat and act halfway normal for my kids, and I really disgust myself when I think about the fact that I'm still doing and thinking this shit even though I'm a mother. I was always up front with my doctors and diligently ate what I was supposed to and gained what I was supposed to when I was pregnant because I think that "pregorexia" crap is inexcusable, but is what I'm doing now any less antisocial and narcissistic?
People with eating disorders are profoundly selfish, narcissistic, histrionic, contribute-nothing, suck-the-world dry kind of people, fuck the "I'm okay, you're okay" therepeutic ethos of the 21st century and all 6 million "my tragic battle with ana" YouTube videos. And I am one of those people. I am not proud of it, and yet sometimes I perversely am. There's a lot of positive societal reinforcement for being really thin. It's always been one of my main sources of self-esteem.
I had every opportunity and talent in the world and I should have used that to make the world a better place, and instead I starved myself out of my highly competitive, exclusive college. A was essentially orphaned at 18 and she managed to keep her shit together and make a life for herself, take care of herself and her grandparents and cousin, when I was blowing all the opportunities she didn't have and couldn't even take care of myself. Eating disorders are for losers, and I, apparently, am one. Because I still can't kick it, and I am apparently too ashamed or lazy to get help (not sure exactly what my excuse is, but I must have one.)
What is wrong with me?