You don’t want to admit to it when the college therapist tells you that it’s you; it’s your eating habits that are consuming you alive. You nod your head and smile at and think, no, not me, you can’t label me with these words: anorexic, bulimic tendencies, or by these actions: Binging, purging, starving.
You feel like you’re in a battle with yourself, that you can’t be happy unless you have full control over something you shouldn’t have control over. You wage a war against your body, against appetite, against instinct. Every word that people called you while growing up, you hear in your mind, and it rings, echoes even: fat, ugly, unattractive, worthless, insecure. Somehow, being able to count each individual rib, being able to see collarbones, being able to feel hipbones, somehow these are supposed to make you feel confident and beautiful.
Everyday you wake up grateful for the fresh start because you allot yourself a certain number of calories and it begins again. Breakfast, 200 calories, and there are 300 left for the rest of they day. You lie to your friends about skipping lunch because you claim you’re not hungry. You’re starving inside, for food, for affection, for someone to tell you that you’re beautiful, that you’re worth their time. Dinner, you look at everyone around you laughing, carefree, no fucks given what they’re putting into their bodies. You wonder if that could ever be you. Bedtime, you stare into the mirror at your reflection and the image you see isn’t you, or at least you don’t want it to be you and you try willing it away. You stare at the fat on your stomach and your thighs and your arms and everywhere else and hate yourself for the single granola bar you had eaten and for the water you drank because that must have somehow added at least another pound.
Then there are “cheat nights,” when you’ve consumed more than what you’ve been permitted a day. Those are the nights you close the bathroom door after family dinner and leave the tap water running. Those are the nights you take those little pills, laxatives that send you running for the bathroom at three in the morning. Those are the nights you tell your boyfriend that you leave the bed every ten minutes because you’re on your period. Those are the nights you feel so terrible, so awful about yourself, because if you can’t even control something as basic as eating, then what good are you for? What are you worth?
You feel a sickening, twisted need to be perfect. It’s as if you’re playing mind games with yourself. It’s almost masochistic. You know something isn’t right because you’re tired all the damn time and you shiver when it’s 80 degrees outside and every bite of food you take is another shot at your self esteem, but the less you eat, the more you wither away, the better you feel about yourself. You can’t call it happiness because there’s always more weight to lose, more imperfections to pick out, but at least this way, you don’t feel out of control, hideous, disgusted and disgusting.