i was skinny for six months.

Posted on June 19, 2014 | 7 comments

i was skinny for six months.

this isn’t the post i intended to write, after a three month absence, but it’s the post that’s happened

i say sometimes, “i was skinny for six months. i also wanted to throw myself off of the george washington bridge, so…” and i trail off and mumble something about depression. it’s comfortable because it’s a lie;┬áit’s a lie all around. i’m 5’1″ on a good day and i was a size six, so i wasn’t skinny, i was passably average. and i didn’t consider throwing myself off a bridge, exactly. i did frequently wonder if i could muster up the nerve to step in front of traffic. i sobbed, hard, whenever i tried and failed to explain how and why i wasn’t alright. i made therapy appointments wherein i explained my symptoms, including weight loss, and quickly followed with, “no, i don’t need to gain it back. that’s the one good thing that’s come out of this.” most importantly, i lost my appetite, i easily cut my consumption in half if not more, and i was smaller than i’d ever been. it was a small light shining in a great darkness.

i got out of darkness and i went back to where i’d started and then some, size wise. sometimes, i’ve wished to trade it back. i’ll take the misery, just make it easier to buy clothes. make me not ashamed to exist outside of my four walls. make me not cry every time I’m getting ready to go out for a night and i can’t stand myself. i’ll take it back, just make me smaller.

what i’m getting at, the lede that i suppose i’ve buried, is that it feels like i’m not allowed to talk about it because i never achieved the goal. i read about women who battled eating disorders in high school, college, and my every sympathy is with them. then they say, “and then everything evened out and i’m (insert small size here) now.” 2, 4, 6. then an invisible wall goes up, because even though we came from the same struggle, i am now The Other. i am The Nightmare, i am The Cautionary Tale. i am What Could Have Been, but thank god is not.

i never hear, “i’ve fought this my whole life and my body will not naturally sit at the place you consider normal,” so i’m telling you, that’s what i am. i fought the same battles and because of my damage i don’t know any other way to put it besides that you won and I lost. those who preach, you must realize by now, are their own intended subjects. i don’t know if it is because i fucked up my body well and good when i was younger, i don’t know why i am this way, but i am. this is what i am, this is the shell that houses me.

i make the subtle self deprecating jokes in public settings because it’s safest that way, because i have to make sure everyone knows i don’t think too highly of myself. there’s a lot of intersectionality there between weight and womanhood but i don’t have the energy to dive deeply into it. i’ve learned to do it in the way that doesn’t make everyone think you’re begging for their compliments or asking for contradiction, but in a small enough way that says, “i know my place.” i do this not because i believe in my heart that i should, but because it seems like my responsibility to culture as a whole. if i were a braver woman i’d refuse, and there are days i do, but they’re not often enough.

this is not a topic i can tie up in a neat little bow. it’s deep and complicated and the history is heavy and it is woven through my every single day, and this is just how i feel about it right now. it’s not an easy fight. i suppose nothing is.

7 Comments

  1. I would like to say very thoughtful and true things about how you are allowed to speak your experience, and should, because your experience is powerful and welcomed by so many others, and true, and all of these things matter. And, I mean, I can say that twice a day for as long as I know you and it will never be less true, but it’s the kind of truth that doesn’t matter when you have someone else’s opinion rattling around in your head, never to be unheard. And you did not write this to hear me tell you to keep speaking things that are true about you, but I’m saying it and it’s true, too.

    (Derail: You said this: those who preach, you must realize by now, are their own intended subjects. And it goes for all preaching, which is the same to me as life-advice-giving, and you know how I feel about people and their penchant for fucking advice, especially when it’s dealt out by people who are fucked up their own selves.)

    It breaks my heart to think of you crying, and of you running over these thoughts and living inside the shadows they cast. And maybe if it were something that could be tied in a bow, it would be easier for me to say something right here in this comment box, but all I have is that I hear you, and you matter, and you are beautiful.

    Also my husband thinks you’re hot, so.

  2. First, thank you for this openness- it’s refreshing and amazing writing. We share a somewhat similar experience of the darkness that can take over life at any one period of time, except when I was going through my time of unbearable sadness, I was on the opposite end of the spectrum, eating feelings and consuming calories in the hope of feeling something again in my life. 3 years later, I still bear the weight of that time. I struggle that while my mental, emotional & spiritual self has overcome that sadness, I still carry around the physical reminder of that dark time. It’s hard to accept a body that came as a result of the lowest point of my life and while some people could argue I haven;t worked hard enough to rid that aspect of that time, there is this weird part of me that doesn’t want it to go away either because it is somewhat a symbol of that struggle and a reminder to not let myself get to that point again. It’s a weird thing between feeling happy for where I am and not wanting to go back to sadness, but looking at myself and thinking “what happened to me and why can’t it be the same?

    • I understand every word of this reply. Even though I’d accomplished a “goal”, unintentionally, during my own dark time I was…disconcerted by it. It didn’t feel like me, it was tinged and tainted. I also have (very few) self injury scars that I look at the same way – as reminders and symbols.

      Let no one tell you that you haven’t worked hard enough. That decision is on you and you alone. What I didn’t dive into here (but I have before and I will again) is my struggle with being ok with what I am now – because really, that IS what I want at my core. I don’t want to lose weight, and it seems somehow forbidden to feel that way.

      *hugs* to you my friend. <3

  3. “Those who preach, you must realize by now, are their own intended subjects….”

    You have taught me this.

    In this case, rather than a lengthy reply, I just want to say, thank you for posting your own experience. My conversations with you on this have been invaluable.

    And also, the “way that [you are]” is beautiful and perfect and part of this world and it’s vast spectrum. If only that fact was so easily absorbed as it is known to the world around you.

  4. *its

  5. I’m not entirely sure this is helpful, but here goes:

    I feel the same way about being thin after jay. Seriously, people’s jaws dropped when he was younger, he was four months when a hotel banquet worker asked me if he was biologically mine, if i gave birth to him. And now, after wrenching postpartum anxiety, breastfeeding to failure, and carrying around a 36 pound toddler, i feel like i cheated or something, like i got out of something. I have no stretch marks, my tits are wrecked, they’re awful, but no one sees that, and when i get compliments i shrink back and minimize.

    You are gorgeous, I’ve never really thought about your weight, and if it’s stable, then yes, it’s probably where your genes say it belongs.

    Neither one of us owes society an explanation or an apology for what survival did to our bodies, or didn’t do.

    xoxox

    • This totally does fit and make sense to me – when people were complimenting my weight loss i felt kind of like I’d cheated as well – like, “thanks, but I didn’t mean to, and I’m sort of miserable…so…yeah…thanks.” I really like that like about an explanation or apology for what survival did or didn’t do. Thank you, Cat <3

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