FRIDAYS — PART 1
When things aren’t planned well enough, they tend to go wrong.
Rule #1 : When dealing with a bulimic — NEVER under ANY circumstances, change any plans or disrupt their eating schedule.
It’s a Friday, after my morning shift. I am tired and hungry.
I am always relieved when it is a Friday, as Fridays had been set aside for “bingeing and purging.”
My food, ordered solely for this purpose — arrived. I am tempted. The menu consists of 10 mini strawberry filled doughnuts, 6 cheese bagels and 2 mini cheesecakes. A perfect mix. Easy to bring up; never a disappointment.
The only disappointment this particular morning was: the 2 mini cheesecakes did not arrive before 7 am. As the app promised. I was compensated for the lateness with a 1000 Won, and promised that they would arrive no later than 6pm that same day.
Initially I thought I could work with that. But, my day was doomed even before my shift had started, I was unable to stick to my rigorous routine and was forced to eat an egg and ham English muffin for breakfast instead of my usual 70 calorie baby-food bar. The reason for this: I had a dermatology appointment at 12:10 and would have needed to leave the office and head over there directly once my shift ended. I might have collapsed from hunger if I denied myself something a bit more calorie dense in the morning.
While all I ate was something a normal person would eat!
The change in eating schedule caused the usual feelings of dirtiness, unworthiness and made me super anxious. When I returned from my dermatology appointment, it was already over. I already knew I had been beaten.
I gulped down my carefully selected salad. And made myself tea. Then the catalyst to the binge was a strawberry filled Ritter Sport chocolate. Then the doughnuts, before I took that first bite, I remember pausing.
I seldom pause.
This time I paused. I knew I had a mere two hours, as I had to report for my second shift at 17:00 and it was 14:40 on the clock. 2 hours is not really enough to complete my binge and purge ritual, but the temptation won. The last rational thought I remember was, “Are you sure? Up until this moment you can still walk away?” I tried to break rule #1, and render it insignificant. But I failed, again, my schedule had been changed, even if the change was occasioned by myself. The rule is there for a reason.
I took that bite; the doughnuts first. It should have been the cheesecakes that went down first! But since they had not arrived on time, I would have to make do without them. I ate 5 doughnuts, fast. Then warmed up a bagel. I tried to eat it as fast as possible. Bagels are disgusting, it is just dough. Hard to chew, and difficult to swallow. I always wondered how it can be the food item of choice for some.
I drenched the bagel in butter, and ate the other 5 doughnuts. Whereafter, 2 more bagels drenched in butter and salad dressing. Yes, salad dressing! Because, I need to be able to identify the taste and the smell when I bring it up later. A hot bagel dipped in strong salad dressing, tasted surprisingly good!
After all that I didn't feel sick enough, to make the purge painless and easy. I knew it’s because no rich foods like cheesecakes, creams, fat dense foods etc. were consumed before the purge. My stomach started digestion almost immediately, therefore throwing up, shall be torturous and painful.
Then, my iPhone pings. It’s someone I care about, someone who wants to talk to me. Unfortunately Bulimia is here, and She demands my attention. I wished so desperately in that moment that I could go back to my earlier moment of pause. And successfully convince myself to not do it, do not do it, do not bite into that doughnut.
At around 15:56 p.m. I knew I could not wait any longer and I filled up a tea cup with hot water and tore up some paper towels. It’s 15:58 p.m. when I pressed play on YouTube, I listened to a sermon. “Listening to a pastor might keep me calm today”, I remember thinking. I knew that pain awaits me, and listening to anything written by Robert Greene is not appropriate for the moment in question.
I remember panicking, I didn't have much time. I started with two fingers and it came up slowly. No abdominal contractions occurred, which caused my oesophagus to absorb the brunt of the gag. The bagels came up, and once I tasted the salad dressing I stared to feel slightly better. The only problem was, no doughnuts or the remains of them appeared in the contents of the sink. It is 16:25, and I wondered: what to do now?
I still needed to clean up, clean myself up and rid myself of any lingering evidence of the horrendous act I had just engaged in.
The problem was (or is): Bulimia. She was not satisfied yet. She was, in fact, angry. My time with Her had been rushed. It was shared between Her and the person I was conversing with on WhatsApp during the whole purge and the final moments of the binge. Bulimia wanted me to wait longer before I threw Her back up. I did not have the time today.
I did what I rarely do, I closed my eyes, took my entire right hand and forced it down my throat. My gag reflex was triggered instantly, I brought up saliva mixed with sugar residue from the doughnuts.
That’s it, just sugar residue. Nothing else. I am defeated. I hit my knees, but the pain of the floor doesn’t trump the emotional sting of defeat, I thought I’d cry but I didn’t. Bulimia has left the room, but I had to empty the sink and digest the anger She left.
I cleaned up, redid my makeup, brushed my hair and swallowed four laxatives. It is 16:55 p.m. when I run out my front door, feeling bloated, disgusting and like the most vile person on earth.
I smiled when I walked into the office, but the smell of vomit followed me all the way. I forgot to clean under my nails. But it’s too late now, now I get to spend my entire shift of four hours pretending: “I am okay!”
On my iPhone, it is another matter. I lashed out at any person who dared to ask me what is wrong. I am instantly angry at everyone. Some know, they know well what transpired in my apartment that afternoon and they try to offer me words of consolation, comfort and encouragement. Help is offered, support is offered too, the always well intended “I believe in you!” finds its way into our conversation too.
It all makes me feel worse. I have let down another person. I will never be better, and Bulimia will never let me go.
I failed in throwing up the doughnuts, and tomorrow? The scale will remind me very clearly that I failed.
Throwing up my food is the one thing I am good at, or so it seems. And when you fail, it hurts. It hurts a lot, and the knowledge that you failed and ended up lashing out at a well intentioned loved one offering support — destroys you.
But, there is always a but.
But, I am here, Bulimia is still here. And She reminds me, once again, that She will never let me go. All these other people will reject you for being an addict, all these other people will ‘unlove’ you for lashing out at them, they all will leave you but I won’t!
I have already forgiven you for not giving Me your full attention when you texted with a man, I have already forgotten the ‘un-thrownupped’ doughnuts, and and and and I will forgive you IF you go home and throw up more. You still have 3 bagels left, the cheesecakes are in front of your door. Waiting.
Waiting for you and I will be with you when you throw it all up.
I, Bulimia, I am waiting for you. Later tonight we shall try again. And after that try again and again, and remember for God’s sake RULE #1 Never attempt to change your schedule. You shall fail.