I look sidelong out the window, pushing my hair back behind my ear so that the unruly curls are tucked away from my face. My exhale faintly stirs a few strands left behind. It is pouring rain outside; the passerby carrying umbrellas aloft above their heads to protect themselves from the deluge falling from the grey skies are reflected in the depths of my eyes. But something else is visible there clouding my gaze with more opacity than even the myriad of clouds above can manage.
It is the weight of the truth.
Some of you may look at my journey along the road to recovery and see impressive amounts of progress. You might see achievements and a distinct upwards trend. You might see someone who is regaining her health and happiness.
But I know different. I carry the burden of reality on my shoulders, and it is always weighing on me.
My days here are largely planned out for me. They are methodically composed of meals and groups, and in between these things, like the conjunctions in a sentence, are a series of repetitive actions. Each morning I wake up at 7:00 am sharp and wander into the vitals room. Once my blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and weight have all been taken, I plod into the same shower I use every time and then brush my teeth soon after. Following that, I assemble my hair and makeup into something vaguely presentable, choose an outfit with virtual certainty that I’ll change it at least twice later in the day, and then travel to the office to grab my morning meds. After this comes breakfast, and from then on I settle into a routine of incessant meals, meds, and groups. This is in an effort to preserve my 100% compliancy rate so that I can go out on outings and passes, which have become my sole saving graces.
I do not do this because I see it as restoring my health. I do not mindlessly shove food into my mouth and stare numbly at my body because I view it as beneficial. The only reason, as a matter of fact, that I have continued doing these things is out of some desperate and perhaps foolish hope that eventually it will be proven to me that life is worth living.
Sounds macabre, no? But it’s true. Even when I was in the hospital at a weight that could have rendered me lifeless, it didn’t enter into my mind that my life was something particularly worth preserving. Sure, maybe there was a smile from a friend I might have missed later in the day or a visit from a loved one I might not have gotten to experience, but these things paled in comparison to my desire to be thin. God, did it hurt. It was an aching, all consuming desire.
I have now been eating on a consistent basis and avoiding exercise for a month and a half. While this might not sound like a very long time, in the grand scheme of things, it feels like forever. I have gained an unknown amount of weight. I have watched as my thighs have neared each other to the point where they brush together. I have watched as my stomach has distended and protruded to a sickening degree. I have watched as my face has filled in; as my cheeks have fleshed out and the veins in my forehead have receded back against my skin.
And there have been moments where I have been proud of what I have accomplished. Of course there have been. I wouldn’t still be alive if there weren’t.
But that, again, is the truth.
The only things keeping my heart beating and my lungs taking in air are these rare moments where I am at peace with myself and the world. And they are so few and far in between that I fear that once I am not under such stringent observation, I might fade away just like they seem liable to do.
Anorexia is not a passing fad. It’s not a fleeting moment. It is my life, whether I like it or not. Some days, despite my best intentions or most intense efforts, it truly wins the battle.
And that, again, is the weight of the truth.