Thursday, July 03, 2014

My Body Myself

As we roll into summer, it becomes that special time of year where people of all types suddenly turn in on themselves--giving up carbs, taking up running, and judging their bodies or in layman's terms--swim suit season. Suddenly the Starbucks drinks into sugar free, low fat, no whip abominations and the slow realization that your hibernation diet has turned you from a twink into an actually bear sans the body hair.

                                    Unless you're Grizzly Adams then you're already there

Everything you eat, wear and do takes on a new meaning--one that isn't particularly kind or healthy. And when you're someone grew up with an eating disorder it becomes some weird Halloween when the ghosts of bodies past come out to play.

                                                              Not that kind of ghost

For me--I become weirdly nostalgic about my years with bulimia. It's not like I was ever truly thin or super skinny, at best I was average with a bit more tone to the body which always made me feel like a bad bulimic. But what I relished about those years was the control I had over my body, that somehow I came to believe that I could do what I want but not live with the responsibilities-eat anything and work out never. I didn't want the people in my life to know that my 31 inch waist meant I couldn't hang out and have frozen yogurt or that the slice of pizza meant I would have to skip out a beach day to run in a garbage bag to sweat off the pounds--so instead I would eat like they did then magically disappear for a nap or a walk or a cigarette. In reality I had stripped off my shirt in a public bathroom while puking my guts out silently.

                            No guy wants to talk about how much work this body takes

I was proud of how well I hid my secret--that I could throw up on command, brush my teeth and throw some water on my face like I had just Noxzema-ed my skin like some young waif. And even when the problems began to show up--the ruptured throat muscle, the inability to sleep until every trace of food left my stuff, the constant awareness of where I was in terms of a bathroom--I still thought I was lucky because I could do this and get away with it. When your stomach is empty all the time you get a euphoric feeling that becomes such a high that you can't begin to function without it.

Until you can't function with it either.

And the worst part is--unlike drinking or smoking or heroin--you can't just give up on food to deal with the issue. (I mean--you can become anorexic but that's just the same horse-different color) So you teach yourself how to eat again and keep it down, how to not step on scales because they're a trigger and you get rid of every picture from that one window in your life because it is so painfully to revisit it.

                                                 Oh look--its my sweet sixteen picture

But then you get distance and get stronger--you learn to accept slowly how your body wants to look. You learn how to eat better, how to ignore that urge to purge when you've had two pieces of pizza instead of just the salad, you give yourself permission to believe that you are who you're supposed to be. You have to re-learn all your expectations of self and your standards of beauty and sexuality.

                                                       You read a lot of Erica Jong...

But the truth is all those fears, thoughts, desires and skills never go away--they sit in the back of your head waiting for just the little crack of light to come out and play. It happens when you go to a bar and someone sneers at you for being too fat, when people come up on you as you eat lunch and you briefly feel ashamed that your salad is not healthy enough, when you get invites to pool parties with friends who are actors or runners or just naturally thin. Suddenly you're back in that space where you want control and it feels like control and it is just like falling off the wagon except you still have to have the drink because with you will actually die.

And then you have the choice--you can be consumed by these thoughts, possibly relapse or skip the summer pool parties and hide yourself away in shame... Or you put on a brave face, force on the bathing suit and go out into the sun regardless. There is still a part of you that will never be fully fixed--but you don't have to be fully broken either.

Or you force everyone to go skinny dipping because then everyone is equally uncomfortable and it becomes a level playing field of insecurity and awkwardness.

        Only assholes and monsters are fully comfortable doing this in a group setting

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