[The eating disorder content note on this post is so loud it tapdances in sequined tights. Skip the latter half if that seems bad for you.]
It’s a Friday. 12:42 in the morning. And I’ve done something for the first time in seven years. I have fed myself properly for a week.
Twenty-one meals in a row.
I have eaten seven breakfasts and seven lunches and seven dinners, one each day, and the last time I can point to and say, “that happened” was when I was fourteen.
It has always made me feel like a child, in the helpless, immature, possibly-unfair-to-children way. Accomplish all manner of things, come of age, go to college, hold a job, spend years working on recovering, and you still can’t feed yourself for a week, can you?
I am twenty one years old, and I have spent one third my life depriving and counting and adding and crying over calorie totals. I have binged and exercised obsessively and hallucinated and measured and feared
And I did it.
I haven’t beaten the parts of my brain that want this to be a loss–who think failure is eating when you are hungry. But they’re a little quieter, a little cowed. And that’s enough.
Seven years ago, I wore braces. I hadn’t been kissed, and Kate Donovan certainly didn’t exist. I wanted to be a ballet dancer. Was one, actually. And nearly the happiest I could be was starving.
There was this sharp piece in the New Yorker two months ago. We write about anorexia too positively, the author claimed. And she wasn’t wrong. It’s hard to capture what it takes to override something like wanting to survive. So you dig deep when you write, and try to find it–what could possibly be worth all of that?
There was something, though. That intersection of feeling competent and sparkling and happy. God, the happiness. Hard and diamond-bright and just so easy to get. You can’t get away from hunger easily, and the two melded a bit. Feel clenching hunger? A rush of joy. Over and over and over. And the choice? Happiness or food and feeling slightly duller and slower and sadder? Why, you’d have to be crazy to pick eating.
I felt a little bit of it today–late to dinner with an errand that ate into my time. My stomach growled and it flared.
Be happier…go to the gym instead.
It’s a hell of a drug, this madness.
But I’m winning. I will sleep and tomorrow, I will eat breakfast before class. I will come home for lunch, and commiserate with housemates about approaching midterms over dinner. In the coming days and weeks, I’ll slip up at some point. Rome and days of building, you know. It’ll be harder to come back if I make this an all-or-nothing game. So I’ll expect that sometimes, the feelings will win.
But for now? For now, I’ll be really goddamn proud. Proud of eating, imagine that. I’m not sure fourteen-year-old-Kate could have. I’m going to have a hell of a Friday for her.