Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I remember when I was sixteen, I took a dose of Nyquil after a binge in hopes that it would kill me. I deserved to die, I thought. Only animals were permitted to eat like that. And, I, well, I wasn't permitted to eat at all. I had broken contract. I had submitted to the desires of my flesh and had eaten, against the wishes of my screaming brain. And, I kept eating. An alcoholic has one drink and can't stop; I had one bite and had just begun.
The night had been a disaster. I didn't drink, so I went instead to succumb to another vice. I tried so hard to ignore the cold as my clothes came off and even harder to disregard my body as cold hands scathed my flesh. The music played and the car ran, but I heard nothing but the noise my body made as it hit the leather of the backseat. I wanted silence; I wanted my body to emit simply a whisper and nothing more. I was embarrassed. I dressed in shame and cowered in the front seat, quiet on the drive back, the radio still playing the same song, "I let the bad parts in, I let the bad parts in."
I wanted the bad parts. I wanted to be pure.
I changed into pajamas in the bathroom, soothing Courtney's tears after the party left. I lied and said I had gone to dinner. She caught my bluff - "You don't eat dinner." I forgave her in her drunken stupor, but never forgot her words. She was right. I ate as everyone around me drank and smoked and I ate as everyone slept and I ate as I sat on the computer and watched the hours past. I slept for three hours, awoke with a stuffed nose, and went home.
I remember the tugging of my skin around my insides, how I could feel every inch of fat I possessed moving and growing and sloshing around. I wanted to die; I needed to die. I marched into the bathroom, took a long swig of nyquil, and went to bed. That was at 4 p.m. I awoke the next day at 8 a.m., a Sunday, completely baffled as to where I was, how I had gotten there, and that I was a person at all.
16 hours. I slept for 16 hours. A whole day had gone on without me. An entire lifetime! And, I woke up and felt the same. Fat. Just as I had felt everyday before and how I would feel everyday after until I broke the cycle.

I had a conversation with my father before about alcoholism. Does an alcoholic drink everyday? Maybe, maybe not. But, whether or not they drink everyday is not the issue. Whether they think about it everyday is. I can guarantee if an alcoholic finds a day where a drink doesn't fit, they are wishing it did, and planning a drink for the next day. This is what addicts do; this is what I did. If I ate a cookie, I cried and obsessed over it for days. I starved over that cookie, I slaved over it, attempting to make up for it. If I had a day that I didn't starve, that I didn't purge, I felt like a failure. I felt fat and anxious and sad, like everything had gone wrong and I was the cause. This is how I'm wired. I am no different than an alcoholic or a drug addict. Whether worse or better, I don't know. In some respects, an eating disorder is worse. An alcoholic does not have to walk into a bar or buy a bottle of alcohol. An addict doesn't have to score. But, people have to eat to survive. Food is a basic necessity of life. Without food, you will die. Without alcohol and drugs, you will live, and quite well. And, that is the key difference. Alcoholism, drug addictions - these are external illnesses. The addiction comes from within, the desire to ruin oneself. Eating disorders are internal illnesses. The addiction comes from within and remains within and gradually works its way out. That is also where it is different. Having an eating disorder will not get you arrested. Having an eating disorder will not cause you to rape or kill. That's speculative, of course, but you get the jist. But, the question is, would I have killed to be thin? And, the answer, though I am ashamed, is yes. There came a point in my disorder where I would have taken another life just to end my own. There came a point where I didn't have the drive enough to live anymore. Had the devil come asking for my soul, I'd have handed it over willingly.
All three of these illnesses, these addictions, are a crutch. Or are they? Are vices crutches? Are they vices at all? Or are they simply illness? I don't know. Can you fight the difference between eating disorders and alcoholism? You can and you can't. You can't give me any right over an alcoholic. Because I don't deserve it. I have done many of the same terrible things in my illness that alcoholics have. Addiction is addiction. The line is thin.
I wonder sometimes how my life would have been different had a different illness chosen me. I phrase that this way because I know for a fact that no one chooses these things. In the past, I thought I had. I thought I had decided one morning, on my own volition, to starve. But, it's not that simple. Did I decide to starve? Technically, yes. Did I want to starve? Also, technically, yes. But, did I need to starve? No. There is nothing in my biological nature that said, 'Starve.' Nothing. This is an illness, albeit a psychological one. My brain said 'starve' because...because I don't know. It just did. And, six years later, here I am, still wondering why of all things, I chose this.
I don't expect a medal for getting better. I don't deserve one. I eat, just as every other human being on earth does. It is not something especially wonderful to anyone but me. But, the fact that it is important to me is what matters. I spent years starving and throwing back the feast without ever knowing why it began. It continued because it was a coping mechanism. Because it was there when no one else and nothing else was. I went back because change terrified me. I know why I stayed and why I turned back. I don't, however, know why I started. And, I think that lack of solution led me to turn towards recovery and away from hell.
I couldn't remember what or who I was doing it for, or why I was doing it at all. And, I said, 'Please. Help me.' And, that has made all the difference. Before Somerset, before Florida, I shrugged my shoulders and let everyone carry me along to where I had to be. I didn't care enough to be better because I didn't understand what it entailed or why I had to. The third time, I looked at myself in the mirror, a good hard look, and thought to myself, 'what the fuck are you still doing?' And, I made a few phone calls, and I changed my life. I made the decision. No one suggested it; I suggested it. Because I needed it; because I wanted it. I often struggle with that. If I wanted to get better, maybe I wasn't even sick to begin with. This is what my disorder tells me. Isn't that silly? Of course I was sick. I was just sick enough to give up. And, for once, not on myself.
I've walked through hell. I don't care if you don't want to hear it, I will continue to say it because it's the truth. I didn't grandiosely leap from sick to well or anything of the sort. I meandered. I took a few detours and a few backroads. But, I got there. Was there a metamorphosis? Hell yeah. But, I wasn't aware of it when it was happening. Only in retrospect can I spot my cocoon. I don't need the justification or the clarification from anyone that I did what I did. I have the memories. I have the scars. This is my battle, my war. I fight it everyday. It frustrates me like hell that I still have to, that I'll always have to, but I would rather break my neck trying to keep my chin up than have my disorder snap it for me.

end of story.

No comments:

Post a Comment