Monday, October 21, 2013

Age 29

Ten years flies by in the blink of an eye…a cliché, overused phrase often times used by “grown-ups” in an effort to help those who are younger and “less experienced.”

Ten years ago, at the naïve age of 19, I embarked on my “dieting journeys.” The first few pounds were a fluke; grief pounds that dissipated from the death of my grandfather. The next several pounds were intentional. I’d fallen into the dangerous trap which kept me obsessed, occupied and entangled for the next decade.

Throughout my twenties, I’d approach every New Year vowing that this is the year that I’m living without my ED. I kept breaking that promise to myself year after year. With every pound I lost, my life became a hollow jumble of deceptions and superficiality. The things I was once passionate about took a back seat, because all I wanted to do was lose weight and become skinny – really skinny.

Through exercising, purging, restricting, consuming diet pills, laxatives and diuretics, my sense of self-worth slowly melted away and I soon donned an estranged, new persona. Paradoxically, my out of body experience grew with each bead of sweat, each purge, each pound I lost and each time I denied myself of essential nutrients. Food had become the enemy and I was convinced that anything I ate would turn to fat on my body.

Those who knew me told me that I had “changed.” My therapist told me any remnants of life I possessed had been depleted and my doctor warned me that I could die, correction, I WILL die unless I “knock it off” – and I didn’t give a shit, hoot, crap, a care in the world. All of my passions were a distant memory as nothing interested me one bit. The only thing mattered to me was how much weight I can lose and how fast I can do it. I wanted to fit into the smallest pant sizes and have them hang off my body. There was a morbid giddiness that would pulse throughout my body when my once skinny jeans were no longer tight.

When I finally hit my rock bottom, my all-time low, and the goal weight that I’d been pining for, years in the making, I realized that this person that I’d become is NOT who I want to be. Had I become “that” self-involved girl who was so fixated on her weight that she was blind to everything else? Yes, I was “skinny” now to the point where random strangers at the store would give me apprehensive glances and the occasional lady would comment on my “thinness.” I had become a shadow of my former self in all aspects, and it was time to face the consequences of my actions.

Slowly, as reality set in, I saw my future husband and children disappear alongside the cessation of my menstrual cycle. Grad school no longer an option because I wanted to lose weight and become “thin.” I couldn’t eat many of the foods I once loved because I was terrified of keeping it in my body.

As I look back and reflect on this point of my life now, I find it repulsive. I spent my twenties unknowingly attempting to look like a cadaver, slowly committing suicide. I lost my soul at an age where I could have been exploring my passions. My peers began to find a sense of self, while I remained lost and even more insecure than I was during those awkward years of puberty! I understand that I cannot be too callous, as the weight loss and eating disorder began as a means of filling this emptiness and self-hatred within me. As my therapist and dietitian say, “It was there to serve a purpose and to protect me.”

As I cautiously venture down the path of my recovery, I’m starting to see things that previously weren’t in my peripheral view. I have appreciation and gratitude for things I was too distracted to notice before. I’m starting to see that others respect me for my character and personality - two aspects that I have lost among the emaciation and malnutrition. From time to time, I look back at some old “sick pictures,” and long for that bony, hollow body, but soon snap back to reality. Despite feeling constantly afraid, conflicted, apprehensive, anxious, insecure and uncomfortable, pushing through this has been worth it all.

Although I find it hard to accept the fact that I’m “good enough” and people like me for well, “being me,” I’m trying to focus on diminishing my distortions and developing my true, inner self. Now, at the age of 29, I’m embarking on my mission of how I truly want to be “seen.” I will not let the last year of my twenties slip out from under my feet to become regret. This is my year to take back from ED.