Let’s talk about the weight of words for a minute shall we?
When I was six, I remember hearing the words “fat” and “workout” for the first time out of the mouths of older friends. What was previously just an arrangement of letters as far as I was concerned, now had a pronunciation, a meaning, and a weight.
Being so young, the weight was nominal, but nonetheless present. They snaked like two pound ankle weights around my extremities, giving a little reminder tug throughout my formative years: when I began breaking off pieces of my lunch inside the brown bag because I was cognizant of and embarrassed by its contents…when I saw all of my best friends (who were dancers) skip the “awkward phase” in middle school, or when I saw how different my body looked in a bathing suit compared to my friends while at a pool party.
It was in high school when I let the weight of the word become the weight of my world. My mind mixed a toxic cocktail of hateful assertions and grand promises, and under its influence the two pound weights on my ankles were exchanged for five pound dumbbells at the gym, four times a week with cardio, of course. The scales began to tip, and the whispers in my mind became cheers so loud that they blocked out the warning voice in the back of my head.
The one telling me that the reason my hands and feet were so cold is because my heart wasn’t pumping correctly. The one telling me that the reason I felt insatiable hunger all the time was because I was. And the one warning me that the reason I wasn’t getting my period like all my friends was because my systems were registering my young adult body as that of a child.
Without even realizing it, those weighted words became an entity in and of itself. She sat perched on my shoulders for six years to make sure I stayed in line. With the rose colored glasses she forced on me I couldn’t see, what others clearly could: that the line I was walking was my life line.
At twenty, I began to chip away at the marble woman of words on my back. As I found hobbies, long term goals, and hell even some helpful medication, my numbers began to increase: number of pounds, of laughs, of friends, of reasons to be and stay healthy.
I sit in my bed under the covers now with burning hot toes and the worst period cramps known to man; and I am grateful for that. But a warning for the wise: recovery is not a one and done moment. It is a lifetime of carrying a thesaurus in your pocket to spin negative words into positive ones. When you ironically use the term “anorexic” or “skinny”, you cause the new warmth in our toes to flush embarrassingly to our cheeks.
I have known the weight of death, and the weight of health, and the weight of the wait in between. I am so tired of numbers that the weight of your words are of little to no concern to me. But be conscious nonetheless, because you never know when your words will become the first two pound ankle straps on another.