I am Not a Number

i am not a number

i am not the value the tape measure reveals when it wraps around my waist and encircles my stomach

which is the product of three meals and three snacks a day

and the source of anxiety that rises in my chest like a tidal wave

sweaty palms and shaking hands that quake as if there’s an earthquake under just my feet

and eyes that sting with salty tears that could probably drown an ocean

i am not a number

i am an amalgamation of all sorts of quirky features like my stereotypical italian nose and my love of dad jokes and my deep mistrust of bananas

it doesn’t even sound like a real word, but anorexia is

sometimes anorexia is the only word that i know; the whole lexicon of vocabulary that i maintain as a studious english major just disappears

and all that is left is me and my anorexia and the fact that my mother tells me i’m beautiful

while quietly i whisper that today and every day is opposite day

i am not a number

i am not the gap between my thighs that no longer exists

the space has been filled with pizza and ice cream and salads and fruit

sometimes i wonder how it is that i don’t turn into a giant container of peanut butter

crunchy, because there are still rough spots in my confidence that need to be smoothed out

simultaneously sweet and salty, because for every time i take two steps forward, i take an obligatory one back

so that i don’t run too far away from my disorder

it’s waiting for me on the couch, patting the seat next to it with a smarmy yet reassuring smile on its amorphous face

i am not a number

i am an artist who loves to paint pictures with words and write stories with illustrations

when i eat i imitate a blank canvas with stunning accuracy

no thought train running through my mind, choo choo, fuck you

better yet, i’m a deer in headlights

if it were a staring contest my food would win every time, and that’s not because it has no eyes

it’s because i always am blinking back tears when faced with the prospect of nourishing my body

a basic caveman-esque instinct that my eating disorder beat out of me while leaving bruises blooming like ugly flowers on my skin

i am not a number

i am not the value on the scale that i am never permitted to see but floats, imaginary and menacing, in my mind

like a neon sign, but instead of saying open, it says fat

and all the little cellulite cells are screaming at me as i scrawl ways to kill them off in my notebook

which is also filled with morbid poems and little doodles of stick people

because like i said before, i’m an artist, right? no, i swear i can do better

that’s what i say, anyways, whenever i reach the end of a day and begin contemplating the next

i can do better, like i’m thomas the train

i am not a number

i am loose-fitting clothes that dwarf me because in the world of planets, i’m pluto

even though usually i feel like jupiter, if jupiter swallowed all the other planets

and had this annoying little habit of snorting when it laughs

don’t be dumb, planets can’t laugh; if they did, we’d be shook up like a lava lamp

though probably eliciting a few more “holy motherfucking shit”s than “ooh”s and “ahh”s

sometimes i feel like all i do is swear because normal words just don’t convey the pain i’m feeling

i am not a number

i am not the tag inside the pair of jeans that, no matter how much i wiggle and jump around like a deranged slinky, will no longer fit me

trying to reassure myself that they probably just shrunk in the dryer

even though i’ve never done that in my life

know something else i’ve never done? felt happy with the way i looked

always better, always smaller, always failing, always losing

i should be a poet, huh? unless you call this thing here a poem, and then i’m just meta

i am not a number

i am a past filled with starchy hospital gowns that made me look like the most hideous bride in the world

i could have made myself a veil out of the plastic wrap that they covered all my meals in

because i was special, special, special

which is really just another way of saying i was screwed up beyond all recognition

like a slightly less intense version of “fubar”

sometimes i look at the girl in those pictures and i feel like she might as well be an alien from a world that exists in star trek

with cheekbones that could cut ice or maybe even steel beams

more powerful than jet fuel, huh?

she’s got arms so thin you could snap them like twigs and use them to start a fire

to be honest, you could probably do that with her hair, too, if there’s any left after it’s all fallen out

i am not a number

i am person with thoughts and feelings and emotions and dreams

a patchwork quilt stitched together out of friendships and broken promises and empty words and pinky swears

hugs from family who look at me with concerned eyes and tell me “you look great”

which really just feels like it’s code for hmm, you’ve gained a noticeable amount of weight and i’m trying to put it politely

i want to travel around the world and see places that i’ve only read about in magazines and take those goofy photographs that everyone always brings home with them

first i’ll have to get over my hatred of having my picture taken

but there are more important things to take care of

like my heart, and my soul, and this wonderful yet tortured body which has carried me through my two decades on this earth

slowly i am learning that i am not a number, but rather, something imperfectly beautiful

something infinite

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