I just want cake.
I must have been 15 the day I made myself throw up for the first time. I don’t remember the day, the time, the month or even the season. I remember where I was, I remember it was quick and I remember thinking: “this is actually easier than I thought it would be”. And just like that, because it was easy, quick and didn’t even make me feel guilty at all, my little experience turned into something I did a few times a week, then into something I did every day, then after every meal.
From then, four long years of hell made me find a lot of hard truths about myself, the people around me and the world. See, during my four long years of hell, I was not only diagnosed with an eating disorder, but a bunch of other nice things: depression, anxiety, mild OCD. The world was diagnosed with a heavy case of grayness: I know, you’re not supposed to think the world is black and white at 15 anymore, but somehow, I did. All these nice little things in my head affect each other in their own special way. Some things are not who we are all the time, but they’re part of us and shape us as we go.
And in 2014 I was “officially stable” from my ED and at the time I felt like I wanted it tattooed on me by the doctors so everyone could see. My stomach was fucked, I knew every nice and less nice nurse in the hospital by their names, but I had done it.
What they don’t tell you about illnesses like eating disorders is that they don’t go away. Being stable isn’t being cured and, above all, your relationships with the things that were once normal are tainted forever. Food and I will never be the same, even if I love food (and I really, really do).
Fast forward a couple of years, a move to a different country, and an equal amount of victories and disappointments, last week, I convinced myself I would go on a diet, and it’s thrown me face first into a pool of fear, guilt and the feeling I’m actually drowning in my own tears. The obsessive control over what food I’m having and when I am having it is suffocating, and yes, maybe it will help me lose the little bit of podgy belly I’m looking to get rid of, but guess what? It does not feel healthy.
But am I not supposed to be a self-proclaimed feminist babe social woke body-positive artist? I am. And all I can feel is guilt.
People often ask me how can I feel bad and still pose naked or take naked self-portraits and it never stops being a weird question to me. The fact that this feeling is so foreign to some people gives me headaches. You just learn to live with yourself the way you are: feeling conscious about your body is a constant, it doesn’t stop you from being you because it is being you. Believing I should feel great about who I am and working to help everyone feel great about who they are doesn’t mean I feel great about who I am. It is why I am fighting. And I will get mad at myself and everyone around me. I’ll feel great one day, and the next I’ll want to die(t). And it is okay. I am a work in progress.
Granted, we all go through phases and I’m going through one: a phase where I’m unemployed, lonely and broke and spend too much time in my own house. And yes, these are all hard things to deal with, they are — but this morning I woke up and I was in bed with my boyfriend and my bed felt warm and comfortable, and for a few seconds I felt loved and happy. Then I remembered I wasn’t allowed to enjoy food today and all that happiness was gone.
Things are bad and are not looking up for now, but if my diet is stopping me from counting my blessings and feeling blissful when I have reasons to, my diet isn’t for me.
And yes, I’d like that little bit of belly to go away (and I know it can, because I’ve done it before — the right way) but this pain isn’t worth it. Maybe I won’t squeeze into that dress for my friend’s wedding — maybe I’ll squeeze into a different dress — maybe I’ll use my boobs to distract everyone from my belly — or maybe I will squeeze into the dress, who knows? Either way, I may have a slice of cake later this week. And it is okay. I am a work in progress.