The truth behind being considered as not small enough to look sick.
I was lying naked on his beaten up mattress in his parents run down basement.
“Do you realize how lucky you are that I’m dating a fat girl?”
He pinched the parts of my body that were too big to love. He would jiggle, squeeze and laugh at my love handles. To him, this was a game, but I hated to play along.
My waist wasn’t small enough for him, my thighs were too thick, my stomach had rolls, and he made it painfully aware that he didn’t normally fall for girls like me. He would teach me which parts of my imperfect body were un-loveable. He didn’t realize that I did this enough on my own.
This happened every single night for the long, dragging months of our relationship. It became routine and I was trapped in my own personal Hell with a man I thought I deserved. I was terrified of him and afraid to leave. I was dating a narcissist, a man with an ego bigger than my body.
He was a master manipulator and he had me wrapped around his finger like a ribbon hugging an unopened gift. He was my gift and I was the ribbon. At least that’s how he taught me to look at it. I was completely brainwashed and afraid.
I constantly found myself repeating the words
“You just don’t understand, he really does love me.”
Everyone knew what was going on, but I was in denial. I believed he loved me despite the spitting, pushing, biting, and bleeding. But honestly, the emotional abuse was worse.
I began to lose my appetite. This was partly from the fear of him, and mostly because I wanted to be thin enough to be loved. I drank nothing but green tea and ate only cucumbers and celery. I was constantly passing out, and getting out of bed became the most difficult part of my day. I started to obsess over the weight I was losing. I lost 60 pounds in 3 months and everyone wanted to know my “secret”.
“Congratulations” became my favorite compliment.
I was always heavy, so when people told me that they were so happy to see me finally shed the weight, they showered me with compliments about my new thin body. I fed off of this, and it destroyed me even further. Even my doctor told me how proud she was that I was now “healthy” and wanted to know how I achieved the weight loss.
Healthy became a word that consumed my mind. I was sick, but no one could see that. I considered myself ‘healthy’ and refused to admit that I had an eating disorder. Once I became “too thin”, people started to reverse the compliments.
“You’re going to blow away in the wind if you lose one more pound!” One of my co-workers shouted this to me and it still felt good. “Keep going” is all I told myself. It was never enough. “Just ten more pounds” I would tell myself each time I met my ‘goal’. Googling calories and jumping on the scale became my favorite pastimes.
Now for the man who wanted the weight off of me the most, I was now too small for him. He would repeat how I’ve lost my bum and my breasts and how he was not attracted to me anymore. I didn’t even care because at least there was no more fat left to pinch, just bone. That was all I wanted, to be only a skeleton. And I started to feel like one.
Even though I didn’t look sick, I definitely felt it. My hip bones were constantly being bruised from the absence of body fat that was no longer there to protect them. I was always tired and could not concentrate for the life of me. My body was cold and it became drastically uncomfortable. Each time I stood up, I would black out for a few moments, or faint.
I didn’t care. I knew that these symptoms were the meaning of being thin. Being thin meant being loved. And being loved meant being happy. And being happy was all I wanted. Thin and happy was the goal I could never achieve. I fell in love with the feeling of cold water entering my empty stomach. I felt devoted to the number on that scale.
The ending of my relationship with the manipulator and I, ended with me in a hospital bed, surrounded by blood. I decided to hurt myself this time and it was finally over. He was gone but my eating disorder was not.
Eating disorders are not glamorous. They are not sexy. And they are not ‘healthy’.
If you see someone who has lost an excessive amount of weight in a short period of time, please don’t congratulate. My eating disorder was not a success story. It was a lot of brutal days and terrifying nights. I was not only in a constant fight with ‘he who shall not be named’, but I was in an ongoing struggle with my mind. My body became the battleground.
In the months after the breakup, I started to binge. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of restrict, binge, purge, repeat. I knew I was losing all of my control. It was time to get help, whether I wanted to or not.
I now reside in a residential facility in Fairfield Connecticut, at Center for Discovery for women with eating disorders. The amount of help, support, and love I receive here is unfathomable. I’m finally learning to love and accept my body, no matter what size.
I have been taught to accept my body and learn to fall in love with who I am on the inside, and not my size on the outside. These thighs have walked miles, these arms have embraced those who never left, these hips have danced freely, these eyes have seen beauty, and this heart is no longer broken.