I wish I could blame all of my problems on puberty. No- I wish I could blame all my problems on puberty and teenage girls. However, it was me; I was a disturbed, disorientated, and utterly susceptible sixteen-year-old girl with a will to lose everything – at any cost.
Health, food, and fitness turned my life upside down. Sure, that’s probably not what my teacher had in mind when she admitted me into her 11:30 AM session just days before sophomore year commenced, but it certainly had me watching the labels. A perfectly pristine peanut butter and jelly sandwich turned into just peanut butter on whole wheat- no crusts. A bottle of distilled juice reverted to water. A bag of chips to an apple. Hershey’s Kiss to a single raspberry. For a while, it was a good trade. Healthy? Yes. Satisfied? To an extent.
It wasn’t enough, though, to fill this urgent and annoying void. Other girls had b-cups, showed off flat stomachs, and could rock a tube top dress with the frilly edges and lacey trim. (I will never forget the headache of Sweet Sixteen attire.) So, like a bride, I altered myself to fit the dress.
But when it still didn’t fit, three months into the “trade” diet, things got bitter. Then sad when my body in my own dress resembled a very pregnant, and very turquoise hippo. Then depressing when finding a bathing suit became The Hunger Games. And, finally, inconsolable when my Levi’s buttons branded the stomach skin after just hours of wear.
A month later, three days prior to my brother’s high school graduation, I tried on a dress. It wasn’t some outlandishly sexy party dress meant to make younger girls seem… not-so-young; it was a simple sundress from Forever 21. My brow furrowed for a millisecond at the discovery of the slight increase in room up top, invoking curiosity, and, thus, leaving me in a blank stare out my window as a little scale determined my absent progress. 117.
Wait, that’s not right. I was a 126 like two weeks ago. I kicked the stupid thing under my cabinet and deemed it to be broken. It was old anyway.
Fourth of July; my boobs suddenly fit into a c-cup bathing suit. Miracle, perhaps. I celebrated Independence Day with my new-found freedom from the double d’s. This became a cycle. Every holiday brought a new “discovery” that racked my brain and skipped heartbeats with pure, unadulterated excitement. I loved the game. Jeans too saggy? One point. Need a new shirt? Two points. Need to poke a tighter hole in my watch’s strap? Three.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Nevertheless, all games have a loser and my dull fate awaited. Junior year brought an array of health problems, heightened parental concern, and God-awful stares. It wasn’t right: to have thighs like my bird’s toothpick legs, to enjoy the lightheaded feeling because I knew what it was doing to my waistline, and to endure the heinous slurs muttered behind my bony back. I presented my body like a five-year-old with a macaroni necklace. I did this all for you! I screamed inside. Where is your compassion?
Commence the floating, where my stomach reached a level of tolerance with my mind, raised a white flag, and decided I was no longer present. To be present meant I felt things, and to feel meant it was all too real. At this point, I was looking for a fantasy, and if dumping my bagged lunch within ten seconds of entering my school’s doors brought me to cloud nine, so be it. And for a while it worked; I floated my way through finals, boys, summer, family dinners, SATs, ACTs, college applications, holidays, and feigned happiness. However, as the paramedic’s stretcher scratched my mother’s newly-stained wooden floors, a barely-conscious me realized I might have floated too far. No, sadly, it wasn’t my rock bottom, but it left a lasting impression.
Recovery is a hard thing to grasp and an even harder thing to achieve. Having said this, I work at it everyday, putting 100% into becoming 100%. Ironically, the cure was within myself, the very same self that caused so much pain. You cannot simply accept who you are- you have to see what good is left after all the bad has happened and build from there. You can’t eat the same anymore? So what? You’ve taken ten different stomach medications in the past two years? Tough luck. With this, I challenged myself and decided enough was enough.
I’m no longer afraid of the little white platform with the four legs and the cracked screen. There’s no longer a monster under the bed, nor a monster in my head.
Why? Because haven’t you heard, thick is the new thin?