I am somebody’s daughter (Pt. 1)
And if your daughter came to you, crying with hunger, would you tell her no? Would you tell her she is too fat, she wants too much, she must shrink into society? No.
Then why would you tell yourself the exact same thing? You are somebody’s daughter.
Michelle K., You Are Somebody’s Daughter
I lost myself just after turning 16, and found myself again a little over a year later. To be honest, it’s very much an ongoing process and I am still finding pieces of who I am and trying to put them back together. Looking back, what is remembered is foggy. Some details stand out, but not very many. There are so many memories that were not recorded in my brain.
I think it was because my brain was empty.
Just like my stomach.
And just like my heart.
I’ve struggled with normal eating since that dim time. It’s strange to think that just thinking about eating 2 by 2 inch brownie can cause a person so much self hatred, or talk of ordering pizza with a group of friends can cause extreme anxiety. But that actually does happen, believe it or not.
I believe it because I’ve experienced it.
The only “official” way that I know I had an eating disorder was an informal visit to the home of a retired doctor who lived in the area. I had been groaning about stomach pains when I ate any form of sugar, and the fact that eating just one slice of homemade bread would overly fill my stomach worried my parents. I remember sitting on his couch, his stethoscope on my heart.
“You must be a runner,” he said. My heart rate was very low.
“Yes.” Points for healthy lifestyle.
He told me to lay on his couch, and proceeded to palpate my stomach and asked me where I felt the pain from sugar. I made up a location. It really only hurt when I ate something. It’s hard to pinpoint something you’re not sure even exists. He asked me if I knew how much I weighed. I responded with a number, saying that it was from a while ago. He pulled out a scale and weighed me, the first time I had stepped on one in six months.
And then he told me to step off and made sure the scale was not adjusted too low. It was adjusted perfectly. I was told to step on it again.
His eyebrows went up. He told me to sit back down, asked me about my eating habits.
This is what my brain excelled at. I had eaten an orange, 60, that morning. Lunch? Granola bar. 180. Spread throughout the day of course. Half during the first break, half at lunch. Any snacks? No, no snacks, 0. I had given a candy away that day, one that I kept in my backpack for months. How about exercise? Invisible jump rope cardio that morning for twenty minutes: -200 and short soccer game at school: -150. I only told him about the soccer. I try to keep my morning exercise regimen a secret. I work hard to be the best I can be. Give it 4 weeks and you notice the changes, 8 weeks and others around notice changes, 12 weeks and then the rest of the world.
Man, I felt good. The worry in his eyes. The way he told me to take care of myself, that I could eat whatever I wanted, that dieting so young could be so harmful. So damn good. He told me I could go to the car now, and he’d have a quick word with my father. He smiled. I smiled back and left his house, smiled as I switched places with my dad.
I went to the car, watching from the front seat window as the doctor spoke to my dad. From the corner of my ear I spotted my father quickly turn back and glance at me with a worried expression, and then turning back to continue listening to the doctor’s words. It hit me. I couldn’t restrain the tears that surfaced to my eyes. He knows, the voice inside my head said. He knows. So, of course, I blinked away the tears and put the mask back on.
But for the first time I could remember, I felt hopeless. I looked at my legs. So thick, the voice slithered. I looked closely at the inner sides of my knees. The skin was was stuck to the bone. I sat back in my chair. I did need help. I was not okay.
My dad got in the car.
“What did he tell you?” I asked, regretting sounding too eager once the words had left my mouth.
I don’t remember much what happened after that, I think my dad said that I needed to be careful.
I remember going home and telling my family that the doctor said it was important that I gain weight. I remember eating more than normal that night, which made my stomach burn and my brain throb. I remember going upstairs and jogging in place while doing several sudoku puzzles to burn the “excess” dinner calories off. I made sure to be quiet enough to avoid my parents suspicion. As always. My secret.