Thursday, May 8, 2008

Age 48

I think I’m beautiful. My hair is thin and dry. My skin sags all over: on my face, where it also causes huge creases and wrinkles, my upper arms, where my empty skin falls down over my elbows, my stomach, my thighs. My ribs and my hipbones jut proudly out from my skin; my cheekbones bring a cadaverous aspect to my face. At night I cannot sleep on my side with my legs together as my knees and my ankles grind into each other. I can’t see my butt, except with a mirror, and then I see that the loss of flesh in my buttocks completely reveals my anus to sight.

I think I’m beautiful. My heart palpitates and I get chest pains, my skin is turning orange, and my brain can no longer concentrate or remember. My electrolytes are unbalanced and my bones are thinning. I no longer shiver in response to cold, leaving me with grindingly cold hands and feet that only warm up with a hot water bottle.

I think I’m beautiful. I am the poster child for weight loss and fitness at my gym, where I define “frenetic”: jumping and running and lifting again and again and again. I stand in front of the mirrors to make sure I still have a gap between my legs that starts at my crotch and ends at my feet; sometimes at night I run my hands down between my legs just to make sure I didn’t gain a bunch of weight that day. Sometimes I look over at another woman and wish that “I was skinny like she is.”

I think I’m beautiful. Some people tell me how great it is that I lost weight or that I look great now that I lost weight. Are they nuts? Some people I know walk right by without recognizing me; if I bother to call them I tell them it is because I let my hair go curly. One person asked if I had HIV/AIDS, another told me I look “delicious.”

I think I’m beautiful. I live my days trapped in my house by fear of food, fear of letting my guard down and eating. I am trapped by the weather as my poor skinny body cannot respond to cold. I am trapped by my isolation from the world. I am afraid of dying and afraid of healing.

I think I’m beautiful. What do you think?