Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gag Me with a Spoon

Please, don't ever call me skinny. I just might punch you in the face, and if I hear one more time how lucky I am to be small, I will absolutely go all Tonya Harding on the nearest shins.  I'm neither skinny nor lucky, unless you think a lifelong battle of the bulge is "lucky".  I could have been Mary Kate Olsen's sick and demented mentor, showing her all the tricks of the non-swallowing trade, although she looks like she did just fine without me.  I was a pioneer, blazing the trail for eating disorders, so excuse me when I don't smile at your compliment.  More than likely, I am too busy thinking about salami.

Food is like cocaine to me.  It has that tough of a grip on my brain, my soul.  Macaroni and cheese is my gooey, yummy crystal meth in a crock pot.  (Ummmm, let me savor that for a moment.) And there is no mistaking the adrenaline rush that overcomes me when chocolate-y, melt-y fudge hits my tongue, kind of like if Ghirardelli put out a new decadent line of acid hits.  Like any good addict,  I fight my demons every waking moment of my life.  Just when I'm successfully back on the wagon, some pusher lurking around the office pulls me into a corner and tries to force glazed doughnuts down my throat. Between candy-bearing, butt-kissing vendors and pot-luck retirement luncheons, life on the cube farm can be brutal for a recovering foodaholic like me.

My addiction began in tenth grade.  While my friends were wondering just how much was too much shoulder padding, I had a desperate need to be super model thin or risk losing out on the possibility of actually dating Simon LeBon.  (Keep your thoughts to yourself.  At least it wasn't George Michael.)  Food was in the way of adding "Rock Star Wife" to my resume, and these were the days before Sir Mix-a-Lot gave women permission to sport a big booty, so I started scheming. My plan was surprisingly simple: Stop eating.

So, I did.

Not only did I stop eating, but I discovered Jane Fonda and leg warmers, too.  I lived on crushed ice, fresh air,  and aerobics until my stirrup pants and Gasoline jeans started falling off of me.  Oh, I might pretend to take a bite here or enjoy a meal there, but the food was going any place but my mouth.  If a tiny morsel actually found its way down my throat, I made sure it found its way back out.  This was a closely held secret between the Porcelain God and myself.  My new favorite accessories were protruding hip bones and clavicles.  I had perfected the Heroin Chic look before Kate Moss was even in a training bra. My weight fluctuated during those three years, but every time I felt it getting out of control, I was back in the bathroom faster than you could say, "Gag me with a spoon!"

Once I was sprung from high school hell, I moved on to the "binge" side of eating disorders.  (That part was decidedly more social.)  I binged on pizza.  I binged on beer.  I binged on pizza and beer with ramen noodles and tacos for dessert.  I managed to add seventy-plus pounds to my body in the span of a few years, looking like some bloated version of my former self.  It was after a sobering trip to mall for new jeans that were in the upper double digits that I snapped.  I had a moment of clarity (lunacy), and I made a promise to myself that I would never be The Fat Girl matter the cost.

I ran. I did push ups. I slurped vegetable broth like it was Mother's Milk. I would spend an hour and a half on the stair climber only to  follow it up with sixty miles on the stationary bike.  I doled out for myself just ten grapes per day, and treated  alfalfa sprouts and cucumbers like they were exactly what I wanted for dinner.  I once again found my way back to the Land of the Stick People only to have my doctor tell me that I was going to die if I continued my pursuit of complete emaciation.  I didn't care.  I would have rather been dead than fat.  I was (am) that completely out of my mind. 

Even after all these years, I still agonize over food.  I am, today, a battle-weary foot soldier in the war against eating. The irony is not lost on me: the very sustenance I need to survive is the one thing that I'm desperately trying to avoid.  Don't tell me to "indulge" myself every now and then.   I can't, for fear of not stopping.  It's like telling an alcoholic to have a couple of drinks every day, but don't get drunk.

I have managed to find stable ground these days, and Food and I are in peace negotiations at the moment.  So, when you think how "lucky" I am to fit into skinny jeans, you should know that I am thinking how "lucky" you are for eating a piece of birthday cake without beating yourself up over it.  Wanna trade?


  1. God! that sounds exactly like me. Especially the "I'd rather be dead than fat part." Until it almost happened. I can now say I am probably the only person that has ever fully recovered from an eating disorder, you see I am now fat. So fat that I get heckled in public, called a "fatty" on Facebook, etc. But, I can eat. I am healthy. And I can now say, "I'd rather be fat than dead." You see, have alot to live for, two beautiful children and an amazing grand daughter. Life doesn't get better than this, even in a size 4.

  2. You are so right. I am confident in saying that my children saved my life. It didn't happen over night, but I sure don't count grapes any more! I want my kids, especially my daughter, to have a healthy role model for a mom, and not Skeletor.

    And, "snarcasm" is my new favorite word! :-)

  3. So my same story. I used to stuff handweights down my pants, and the university quack would prescribe me Fen-Phen. That, plus no eating (except for a Diet Coke and a 100cal pack of animal crackers) a day nearly did me in. I have no idea how i'm still functioning 17+ years later. And, to poster Lynda--being pregnant saved my life.

  4. I never had the purge issue, nor have I ever been considered TOO thin BUT I have a severe food addiction and it is a constant struggle on a meal to meal basis to keep from immersing myself in food until I cant eat another bite and might vomit..... food addiction is, in my mind, the toughest addiction because you cant ever just STOP..... you have to learn how to moderate your eating..... and its sucktastic...

  5. Yes--"I'd rather be dead than fat." Right on. That describes many of us, including me, all too well. And this is one of the many addictions (now that I outed myself re the other ones) that I battle daily. Much love and peace and understanding from me to you. Thank you for writing about this. It is something we need to talk about honestly.

  6. I was too thin when it was unfashionable, now I'm too curvy (I refuse to say "fat"). What have we done to ourselves?

  7. This and you rule. I know this roller coaster so well. Sadly I think most women do. Not in exactly the same way, but we are so alike in the feelings. Thank you for voicing it so well.

  8. I felt like I was reading a page out of my own diary! Very well written and kind of sad. I know where your coming from I battle with food all the time. Sometimes I win and sometimes the food wins, I think once you have a problem like this you never completely heal.

  9. I battle every single bite of food that goes into my mouth. I am either getting away with something or eating something because it's the right thing. So few women in America have healthy relationships with food, and I hate what we have done to ourselves, each other, our children, and the entire history of women's plight toward equality and RIGHTNESS. We are bringing ourselves down, and we can't stop. I can't stop, either, and I wish beyond all wishes that it were the one thing in my life with which I could make peace.

  10. p.s....who is this woman in the photo?

  11. I missed this repost yesterday. I'd love to link to it from my blog if that's okay?

    Body image distorts us from the inside out and even when we are healed (or are healing) it feels like it's waiting in the shadows. Thanks for writing this piece.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.