I’m terrible hungry at the moment. Yet I must refuse myself food in an effort to overcome my addiction. I need to relearn how to properly eat and make choices about my food.
To someone with a healthy relationship with food, this seems like a ridiculous feat. We learn to eat as infants. We drink milk until we’re full. We cry out for food when we’re hungry. It’s a simple survival venture that we repeat daily. But for those of us with eating disorders, this simple process can be overwhelming. My particular brand of mental poison comes in the form of bulimia. Basically, I am incapable of eating food. Either I must completely restrict my food intake or I overindulge to the point of nausea and force myself to purge.
Though I have only had this “disorder” for a couple years, the symptoms have plagued me since childhood. I have never known satisfaction from food. Even as a skinny athletic child, I cleared my plate and always took seconds simply because it was there. Leaving food on my plate or in the dish was never an option in my house. Not that my parents making me eat all my vegetables is the reason for my morbid fascination with food, but it started a cycle of ritualistic bad habits. Because of my constant overeating, I eventually lost the ability to feel full. Seriously, I cannot feel full. I can physically feel my stomach expanding beyond capacity as I round the home stretch on a gallon of ice cream. I can feel the chilling sensation as ice cream refuses to fit into my stomach and sits menacingly in my esophagus. I feel a multitude of things as I eat, but never comfortable satisfaction.
The satisfaction from food comes later during the purge. Purging for me is what I imagine masturbation is for some people. Even if you don’t really want to, that intense sense of release felt after the act makes it totally worth the effort. To people without bulimia this sounds crazy, but it’s really an amazing feeling. Before I began purging, vomiting terrified me. At nine I distinctly remember sprawling out on the bathroom floor during one of my epic battles with the stomach flu. Emptying the contents of my gall bladder left me in a sickly pious state. I pleaded with God to give me cancer instead of nausea. I literally asked for cancer in return for never throwing up again. Though I probably didn’t know the exact implications of cancer at the time, I knew it was serious. That’s how much I hated puking!
In actuality, purging is not like vomiting at all. In fact, it’s the opposite. Purging a short time after consumption to me is the equivalent of eating the meal twice. The food tastes exactly the same and looks disturbingly similar coming out too. Too gross? Beyond the taste factor, once I became in tuned with my body’s gagging rhythm, I could get any sized meal out in under ten minutes or twenty minutes if I consumed mass amounts of dry carbs.
The beautiful emptiness felt after a purge is absolute perfection. The evil temptress that made me bloated, uncomfortable, and ugly now it sits in a deflated pile to be disposed. After a purge, I feel an intense sense of relief and temporary euphoria. I know this meal will not end up on my hips yet I still got to enjoy it. In my more deranged days I saw this as cheating genetics. I was enjoying my full fat foods without the consequence. Not I see that I was cheating, but I was cheating my body of nourishment and cheating myself of a healthy life.
I’m terribly hungry at the moment, but that’s ok.