Lose enough

My doctor looks at me with concern. She asks how much weight I’ve lost since my last visit. I answer. She says, “I don’t want you to starve yourself.” I tell her I’m okay. I tell her I’ve got it under control. But only half of half of that is true. I’m not okay. And when I say I’ve got it under control, I mean I’ve got my weight under my control: my obsessive, unhealthy control.

A few hours later, I go and see my cardiologist. He says to me, “You need to lose weight.” Before I could finish telling him I had already lost 185 pounds, he tells me “you need to lose more.”

All he sees is the fat. He doesn’t see anything else. He doesn’t know that my protein is low, that I’m undernourished and anemic. He doesn’t know that I struggle just to make 500 calories a day sometimes. He doesn’t know how many times I’ve fainted because I didn’t eat for days. He doesn’t know how I spent time in the hospital having every bit of food I ate (and didn’t eat) monitored because my eating disorder had left me severely ill. He doesn’t know I am at my lowest weight in two decades.

He just sees the fat, and the need to lose it. He sees that I am not good enough. I tried to tell him the good thing I did, and it was just ignored. Because it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough.

I knew in that moment, that doctor had just opened a door for me. He gave me a warped, valid excuse to limit my eating.

And it worked. I found myself saying “I can’t eat that. My doctor said I have to lose weight.”

I focused on what he said  and ran with it. I wasn’t lying. He did say it. But I didn’t want to acknowledge what my other doctor had told me. I didn’t want to acknowledge that this doctor knew nothing of my history. That wouldn’t help my cause. I believed what he said because it was a belief I had already.

And after my lapses in judgment when I ended up eating, I heard that doctor’s words bouncing around in my head, along with the words of my mother. I felt so sick, but it wasn’t from the food. It was from the guilt and the shame I felt for eating. I tell myself that this is why I shouldn’t eat. Those sick feelings are signs that I was doing something wrong.

It’s a vicious cycle. It’s a constant battle that never has a winner.

I don’t know why I even bother trying. No matter how much weight I lose, it will never be enough. I will never be enough. Just like my mother said. No one will ever love you looking like that. You’re gross. I tried and I tried, but I never lost enough weight for her to love me. But I will still keep trying. I will keep losing until I won’t be gross anymore. I will keep losing until somebody can love me.

Fat on the outside; starving on the inside.

Fine on the outside; dying on the inside.

“I think we need to ban the scale.”

My eating disorder has been out of control.

And my life factors have made it so much easier to go along with it. No money this week? Perfect. We don’t need food anyway. We can stretch out this last cup of rice and make it last a week.

But it’s so much more than that. There are times when I am in such horrible denial that I have a problem. People ask me if I’m okay because I don’t look well. Well, I ate the other day. Isn’t that enough? In those moments, I can’t process that no, going days without eating isn’t normal. I can’t process that, in that moment, I look like hell because I haven’t eaten.

And then I sit in therapy and battle with my therapist. Did I eat today? Well, I had coffee. Coffee is food. Just stop. What is the big deal? I am FAT. I don’t need food. I ate the other day. I am still alive and doing just fine. What is the big deal? No, I’m not about to pass out. It’s the lighting.

I was so angry at myself during our session on Monday because I had gained three pounds over the weekend. THREE POUNDS. I had lost 23 pounds in the last 17 days, but now that I gained 3 back, I only really lost 20. And I was pissed. I told my therapist I couldn’t eat this week until I made up for the gain.

“I think we need to ban the scale,” she said to me. “It’s becoming a problem.”

I weigh myself every morning. Obsessively. And I know that. It is a sick obsession, but I need it. I need to know how much I weigh because I need to know if I deserve to eat that day. Am I too fat today? Someone will notice that extra pound and judge me for eating that bowl of rice. I just can’t do it. We’ll try again tomorrow. It’s a sick and twisted cycle that I keep getting caught in.

I go through periods where I can manage quite well. And then there are times, like now, where my eating disorder becomes full-fledged and affects my everyday life. I sit in therapy sometimes, half out of it, unable to think, because I’m tired and haven’t eaten. And I can sense the frustration in my therapist as she tells me we can’t work through much if I come to therapy starved. I can’t work through my issues if I’m not fulfilling my most basic needs. And I know she’s right, but I keep fighting it. I’m fat. I don’t need food. Why doesn’t anyone understand this?

Why can’t I just have a normal relationship with food? Why did my mother have to point out how fat and disgusting I looked all of the time? “Pull your skirt down, no one wants to see your disgusting legs!”

Why did she have to complain about how much our food cost her? To make us feel guilty for having basic needs. How dare we have basic needs and take away from her. Why did she have to take it away so much? Why did she send me to school with nothing and then yell at me when school would call that I didn’t eat? Why was it my fault? She set me up for failure every time. Food could never be a simple, fulfilling experience.

Why did I only get food if I deserved it? Why did food always have to belong to her or my brother? Why did she turn food into a tool of manipulation?

Do you know what it’s like to be told you can only eat certain food once it goes bad? Do you know what that does to your sense of worth? It destroys it. Whatever sense of worth I had left was no longer. It didn’t seem to bother my father that he and I were treated like shit. He looked forward to when some of his favorite foods were nearing expiration.”I see those doughnuts are just two days away from expiring!” and he was so  excited about it. I was horrified. I saw it as my mother’s way of telling us we were worth nothing. But hey, she can say she feeds us, and she wouldn’t be lying. Sick. It’s sick.

I’m not sure I have ever mentioned it here before, but I have a sixth sense for scoping out expired food and beverages. I can walk past something and just get this feeling that it is expired, and sure enough I check, and it is. It helped me a lot at my last job, as I cleaned out a lot of expired merchandise in their grocery department. I’ve also filled up baskets of expired foods while shopping at stores and dropped it at their customer service areas. I don’t know why it happens, it just does.

And I never made the connection before, until I was laying in bed last night and thought, have I trained myself to scope out expired food because that’s what I had to do at home? Have I done that without even realizing it? I don’t know how else to explain it. It makes me sad.

Deep inside, I still feel an immense sense of worthlessness, that I am in many ways unworthy of food, unworthy of the basic necessities of life. A piece of her is still inside of me, telling me I am worthless.

And now, thanks to all of this shit I’ve dealt with, I can’t even eat like a normal person. Every time I consider eating a piece of food, I have to go down an entire mental checklist. Do I deserve to eat today? Am I fat today? Is this going to make me fatter? Do I even want to eat this? Am I even hungry? Should I bother? I’m too fat to eat this. I can’t eat today. I’m bad. I didn’t earn this. I can’t. 

I ate today. But only because I weighed myself this morning and lost six pounds in two days. The cycle continues.