woman in black and red gingham dress shirt sitting on road during daytime

The Voice That Follows Me

Trigger warning: Eating disorders and body dysmorphia 

I think she must have slipped into my suitcase leaving cheer camp. It wasn’t her voice who said, “We could all stand to lose 10 pounds,” but it was her who wouldn’t let me forget it.

Or maybe she moved to my high school around the time I realized no boy wanted to be seen with me in public, but they sure wanted to see the curve of my body under my skirt after a football game. She wasn’t the one who made me feel like my body was all that mattered, but she sure didn’t stop me from wishing I didn’t have a body at all.

I know she was my roommate in college, the one I could never lock out because she had the master key. Whispering about oatmeal and the digital numbers below my feet each morning. Sending me to the treadmill while I was still drunk off of margaritas because I couldn’t “sleep with the calories.”

Goodness, was she thriving when I realized my sorority now wanted to show me off, and that didn’t happen until there was less of me in the Instagram frame. “Thinner is prettier,” she smiled.

She screamed when she felt the coldness of the handles on the body weight measurement machine in my nutritionist’s office. “Don’t listen to them. Less fat is better. Smaller. Less room to take up. Less of you to analyze.”

I know she stuck around to see my college graduation, and she was whispering all through my first breakup. The photos were bad, and he couldn’t love me because I was too fat and too much.

She followed me to two different cities, calling dibs over every bit of happiness I had hoped to find in a new zip code.

“You’re nothing if you don’t have me.”

That’s what she told me, and what she said was always true.

probably wearing a vintage band tee covered in coffee stains.

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