Agnes Day on Disordered Eating, Shame and Coping
In fifth grade, I had my First Crush On A Boy. His name was Ross. He was tall, with gorgeous green eyes, and he was so sophisticated that he wore cologne to school. Aramis. He agreed to be my boyfriend for one day, but we had to keep it a secret. When I asked why, he told me: “You aren’t exactly Brooke Shields.” Bewildered, I replied “you aren’t exactly Tom Cruise!” I didn’t know I was fat. When he became my best friend Jennifer’s boyfriend, I was crushed. Yet he brought us both chocolates on Valentine’s Day, which touched me. I still think that’s pretty classy for a ten-year-old boy.
I learned I was fat in sixth grade. This was the beginning of junior high, at a school where I knew no one, having just moved into the area. I did not make friends quickly at this school, but I eventually got to know a boy in my math class who seemed nice. I thought he liked me, so when the Sadie Hawkins dance came around, I asked him. When I asked him why he turned me down, he told me it was because I looked like “the dancing elephants from Fantasia.” The asshole didn’t even know they were hippos, not elephants. The boys began to tease me. The girls simply ostracized me.
During the summer following seventh grade, I decided people would like me if I were thin. I refused to eat anything my mother cooked. She and my father were both fat too. I refused to eat anything with even a bit of fat in it. I became anorexic. When I returned to school, the boys who used to tease me were now competing for my attention. The girls got mean. Instead of ignoring me completely, they began spreading rumors that I was a “slut” and a “whore.” I had never even kissed a boy. I had never even been to a school dance.
In high school, I continued skipping meals and took up smoking. I discovered mini-thins and took them every day. What started out as 6 became 20 by the time I was 18. At that point, I added crystal meth to my regimen. I became a drummer for a male band. I was thin and “hot” and could get any guy I wanted. I felt beautiful for the first time in my life, not realizing that the attention was negative, that my physical attractiveness was all that these people cared about. I have a 150 IQ. I am in MENSA. I paint, I write. But I was just a decoration on a stage, made slightly more interesting by the fact that I excelled at a traditionally male skill – playing the drums. I can’t count the times I heard “Wow! You’re so good for a girl!”
At 21, I overdosed. Could have been the mini-thins, could have been the meth, or the exorbitant amounts of alcohol I’d added to the mix by then. I remember feeling like I was floating away. I saw only blackness, but I heard my friends arguing about to taking me to a hospital. No one wanted to get in trouble. They left me.
I left my friends, I stayed in my bedroom, and I suffered through overcoming my meth addiction. I self-medicated with alcohol. I was now having panic attacks regularly. I gained 85 pounds. My entire identity as “the hot girl,” the identity I had worked so hard for, was gone. I weighed 230 pounds. I was a size 20. I felt as though my life was over.
I made new friends, once again taking up my mantle as the Funny Fat Girl. I had crushes on boys who did not reciprocate. I was desperate to lose the weight. The only way I knew how was by starving. So that’s what I did. When I would “mess up” by eating more than 1,000 calories a day, I would make myself throw up. I got down to 180 pounds.
I met my husband 5 years ago. He tells me over and over that I am beautiful, that he loves me that I cannot expect to get back to a weight that I reached as a teenager on drugs, that I am being ridiculous. He is right. But still I starve, binge, purge, and feel like a worthless pile of fat. I weigh myself every morning, every evening, after every shower.
I am a good person, a smart person, a good friend, a loving wife, and damn good dog momma. I am an artist, a teacher, and a volunteer. I have two college degrees, a husband who loves me, and friends who respect me. I appear successful. But I feel like a failure because I can’t fit into those jeans.
Agnes Day is a writer, a voracious reader, a music lover, a wife, and a dog momma. Feel free to contact her (especially if you’d like to pay her to write) <a href="mailto:choirgirl658@gmail .com”>here.
Photo Courtesy Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope