I want to say something profound, but there is nothing new.
I have gained weight.
I am starving.
“Hello giant,” a coworker greets me at ballet. I am wearing some sky scraper heels and trying unsuccessfully to hide the 10lbs I have gained since June.
“Please don’t remind me that I have giant genetics,” I implore him.
“Oh you have the “V” gene,” he says giving me a salacious look. “V for voluptuous”
My jaw drops in horror.
“Don’t say that to her,” another co-worker interrupts. “She thinks voluptuous means ‘fat’.”
Well we all know that’s what it means.
I have been back nearly two weeks. They have been a blur of emotions and days and I cannot quite recall them in minute detail.
I have existed: gone through the motions, done what’s expected of me at work or home.
I have not eaten. I have eaten too much. I am now full of emptiness; of leavings and longings and loss.
In the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep (too scared to close my eyes, too numb to keep them open), I wandered into the kitchen in my underwear and started foraging for food.
The sight of my mostly naked body was simply an annoyance. Instead of halting me, it spurred me on. I made pasta without thinking about it. I could have gone to sleep hungry, but instead I started looking for comfort in carbohydrates, for happiness in the bubbling tomato sauce and for love in the soft, melting cheese. I let it caress my insides with warmth. I let it soothe me. I ate sitting on the floor with my fat rolling out around my panties and bra, cushioning the agony, shielding me from the dying sensation that will not leave me alone.
I sobbed into some wine. I wailed in a bubble bath. Tears and snot and mascara mingling with the grimy water, dull as my soul.
I am a tomb of nothingness.
I never want to eat again.
If this is the last breath that I draw, it is too much; it is enough.
We “kissed and made up” as the saying goes. I don’t feel like we effectively resolved anything. We are back to our normal which means that nothing will change, but everything has changed and it can’t go back.
He carries on as he did before. I find myself questioning everything. Why give up a weekend to spend at his son’s lacrosse tournament when this man isn’t sure of how he will feel about me in a year? I looked at the house last night – a disaster as always – and I told him that they needed to clean it up because I wouldn’t. Why am I picking up after kids that aren’t mine when their dad won’t make a commitment to me?
I am loath to invest time or money or effort now that I know there is no timeline. I am withdrawing, pulling back, being selfish. I sleep in and let him get the kids dressed and ready for school by himself. I don’t do their laundry or pack their lunches. I want him to remember single parenting. I want him to realize what he has done and what he has lost in me when I stop doing all I did.
I am still hurt; wounded by words that cannot be retracted. The damage done is immense. It pervades every conversation. I have to keep reminding him that things are not what I thought they were. It’s as if he doesn’t even register the shift.
“Do you want to go look at a new car this weekend?” He asks.
“No. I think there is no point now. Perhaps when our situation is more stable. I will reassess in a few months and then think about it,” is my response. I have said quite frankly, that I made the decision to go look at a new car prior to our discussion when I believed that we were in a more secure position than what we are.
I went to see the ED counsellor and doctor for a check up as part of the program I am in. He asked about it at coffee.
“Am I supposed to be coming to some of these with you?” He seems stunned that I have been to several appointments that he does not know about because I didn’t bother telling him.
“Yes you are supposed to take part in a few things, but I told my case manager that I’ve had new information since the time I brought you with and that things have changed. I told her not to plan on you being part of this anymore,” I am as blunt as I can be. This is not a part of myself I am going to share with someone who is vague about our future. He looks hurt. He says “oh” and I leave it at that.
He brings up the long weekend. We were supposed to go away for our romantic holiday together which I canceled the morning after our fight. He hasn’t asked about it or referenced it since. It’s like he is immune to how disappointed I was after I had been looking forward to it so much. He hasn’t even acknowledged that I canceled it and how devastated I am about it. He is nonchalant.
“What do you want to do for the long weekend? Do you want to make any plans?” He asks, like nothing happened and he didn’t ruin a perfectly good weekend for nothing.
“What I wanted to do went down in flames,” I respond calmly. “I no longer care what happens this weekend.”
He doesn’t get it. Why would he?
I went to the hospital to have a cyst removed last week (yes, another hospital trip). The doctor looked like a mad scientist: matted, sticky out hair, retro glasses, bad teeth all complete with lab coat and stethoscope.
He was just as odd as he looked, but completely harmless. He asked a barrage of questions while examining me. They always go in the same direction: where are you from, what do you do etc. Both usually stump people. Once he knew that I taught ballet he went on a long, eccentric, meandering soliloquy about ballet. Out of nowhere he looked at me, “did you have bulimia?”
I looked startled. I realized I had nothing to lose by telling him the truth. “Yes. I did.”
“Ah, but you’re better now? You’re alright.” I couldn’t tell if he was asking a question or stating a fact.
“I’m fine,” was all I replied. I don’t look sick so why would I explain to him that I am still purging regularly and restricting when I am not overdoing the “healthy” eating or the wine-free-for-all diet.
“Bulimia…it can kill you,” he muses shaking his head. “That will kill you.”
Everyone knows that you never ask a woman if she is pregnant. Girls especially know that this is a code you don’t break no matter how obvious it is.
Today a colleague at ballet asked me if I was pregnant while patting my stomach. She actually thought it was acceptable to pat my belly and ask if I was expecting a baby. I looked at her in horror. I told her that was a terrible thing to ask someone.
“Why?” she seemed surprised that I was upset.
“Do I look pregnant?” I responded.
***This is the worst part. Brace yourselves***
“I don’t know,” she answered.
I. Don’t. Know.
Well I am obviously fat enough that she thinks I’m pregnant. The sad thing about that is I have actually lost weight lately. That there was all the encouragement I need to keep purging, exercising and restricting.
The tragedy of the whole day was when I relayed the incident to a friend and they said to me, “well if she knew your situation, she wouldn’t ask.” Meaning that my boyfriend has already had 2 accidental children with 2 different woman and our lives are negatively impacted by it every, single day. Said friend then said this: “It’s not like you want to be the third woman to have his child.”
No, I do not.
They weigh me – backwards, of course.
They take my blood pressure: lying down and then standing up. The nurse watches me as standing up gives me a head rush and raises her eyebrow as I put my hand out to steady myself.
They check my urine for hydration levels because of all the purging.
They do blood tests and look at my electrolyte levels…because of all the purging.
They check my teeth and my throat…again, because of the purging. They poke me and prod me, feeling my stomach, listening to my heart.
They turn the heater on because I am freezing in my hospital gown. What a cliché. All the patients here are freezing, shivering, wasting away.
They give me endless papers to fill out. I have to rate my quality of life with ED, my body dissatisfaction, my mood swings, my anxiety, food obsessing.
They ask questions. They ask more questions. I go through the last 20 disordered years, dredging up stuff I have buried under tonnes of pasta. At one point I cry unexpectedly. I minimize and deflect. I confess to feeling guilty for wasting time and resources that could be better spent on other people. I admit to being embarrassed that I am not thin enough or sick enough to be here. I tell them that I honestly don’t believe this outpatient program will “cure” me.
We go to the wedding today. I wear 2 different outfits: one to the ceremony and one to the reception. I don’t eat all day so that I might look vaguely acceptable (to myself or perhaps some passers by). My boyfriend doesn’t look at me, or notice me, or comment on my apprearance. Given the horrible things he said a few days ago when I was trying on dresses for this event, maybe it is a blessing – you know the kind they say come in “disguise”.
I starve and I primp and I preen. I paint my face and curl my eyelashes and spritz and tease and my legs are tanned and my collar bones are glittered. I brush and comb and fuss and tuck and pin and change and inspect and criticize and adjust and ruefully accept the outcome. We arrive at the ceremony and he says a blanket “you guys looks snazzy” to all 3 of us. Snazzy…the epitomy of compliments. The truth is he only has eyes for his daughter. When she is around, his son and I cease to exist. I get compliments from his friends at the wedding. Complete strangers talk to me in the washroom telling me they like my dress or hair. One woman hugs me and uses the word “gorgeous”. My boyfriend barely acknowledges me. He is disconnected, preoccupied and I am just the maid who had fed and cleaned and dressed and delivered his children to him while he has been drinking with his friends.
He takes his daughter “for a walk” which is code for calling her mother. I sit at a table for ten fat, repulsive and alone, staring into my appetizer, looking for love. After the briefest pretense I walk away from the table and in my high heels and lace and pearls and curls, I toss back up the disappointment. There is not enough wine to soothe my discontented soul.
His daughter is sick and whiny. She takes up all our attention. There is no time for “us”. There is no hand holding. There is no smiling into each other’s eyes. There is no dancing at this wedding. I hold her and she fidgets, unhappy. He holds her. She cries for cupcakes. No matter what we do, she is fractious. We are home by 10:09pm on a Saturday night. I wanted to slow dance in his arms and dream of our wedding which we both know (but won’t acknowledge) will never happen. The kind of things you do when you are only 9 months into a relationship. I wanted the overflow of love and happiness from this union to flood out hearts. But there are children to take care of and his stomach is upset by the Indian food (which I hear about in graphic, unromantic detail), so we go home. I pour myself wine in the kitchen, take out the flower from my hair while my boyfriend puts his daughter to bed. His woefully neglected son comes to me in the kitchen and tells me that he feels like we don’t love him. I wrap my arms around him knowing exactly what that feels like and hating myself for not being able to stop him from feeling it too.