For Better or For Worse

So far, so good.

I went to the gym this morning, my favorite class. It’s taught by this big black man named Paul, who is hilarious and warm. The usual folks at this class could be translated into a sitcom– there’s Erica, the buff white girl who dates black men, whose favorite song is “Golddigger.” There’s Hoodie Ray, buff and big, who wears hoodies and pounds some serious dumbells, silent as the day he was born. There’s Yulie from the Bronx, and Little One from Queens. There are the Jens, Jen 1 and 2, a white couple, mid-twenties, who often come to class together. There’s Cathy the Asian woman from down the block, and Big Nick, tall and gay. And I’m my own character too now, cute and silly, high voiced and enthusiastic. We play “Name that Tune” with old school beats, we answer themed questions like “What was your worst date” and then do 25 thrusters. It makes it worth it.

But I felt pretty shitty today. I saw myself in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw. I saw a blob of white flesh, a non-descript face, puffy and pink. I saw thick thighs, emphasized by the clinging of my yoga pants. I saw an ass that blended into these thighs, plushy and fat. I saw thick, undefined arms, blurring into the white wall. I hated myself. It was unpleasant. And made me just want to be better, instantly, be perfect, with the snap of my fingers, never eat again.

Of course, that’s not the answer, and for better or for worse (for BETTER, B, it’s for BETTER), I can’t starve myself life I used to. I can’t feel hunger and not feed myself. I know that’s a really positive step. I do. But at the same time, I wish that I could do what I used to do without thinking, cutting my meals down into snack portions, a tiny portion of cereal for breakfast, plain yogurt with a third of an apple, a small bowl of salad with a splash of balsamic for lunch, a quarter serving of couscous with sauteed veggies and one tenth of a block of tofu for dinner. Tea. Water. Probably around 800 calories or less per day. It felt normal, but it wasn’t normal.

I can’t eat like that anymore. Over the last two years, my nutritionist rewove the fabric of my brain about food– noticing what’s too little, despite any ED logic to the contrary (“but I ate too much last night!” “but I just wasn’t hungry!”). And I know that eating too little just leads to eating too much. These things I KNOW.

But just because those are the facts doesn’t mean that I spend significant portions of my lifewishingbeyond belief that it were otherwise.

Wishing that I didn’t binge.
Wishing that I could “diet.”
Wishing I could stick to a firm food plan.
Wishing I could control the feeling of hunger and the feeling of fullness.
Wishing I could slice off the excess on my body and make myself lean, clean, just the core of me.

But I can’t. I can’t do it. I have to just go day by day. I have to let myself hate myself and then move on, because life doesn’t change in a day. I have to take each meal as a new challenge– a challenge I sometimes fail. I have to honor my hunger because I cannot control it. I have to find a way to love myself so that I have the strength to walk outside at all. I have to find a way to love myself because my whole life is comprised of meetings where I work to convince other people that they need me (for their play, their movie, their friend, their colleague).

It’s fucking hard, though. And I often feel like no progress has been made– that I’ve been mired in the depths of this disgusting, shameful disorder for years and years with no escape. I feel entrenched, suffocated, covered in fat and carbs and food I’ve shoved into my mouth. And I feel so angry that this happened to me, especially at this time in my career, in my life, where I NEED to be at my best, emotionally and physically.

But here I am. And I have come far.

I have talked to my friends about my feelings.
I have honored my hunger.
I have admitted when I’m at my worst, and honored it.
I have also sucked it up and ventured out when I’m at my worst.
I have never purged, no matter how many times it seems like the right idea, the solution to all of this.
I have forgiven myself, every single day.

“It isn’t easy, it doesn’t count if it’s easy, it’s the hardest thing. Forgiveness. Which is maybe where love and justice finally meet.” –Tony Kushner, Angels in America


Harper: In your experience of the world. How do people change?

Mormon Mother: Well it has something to do with God so it’s not very nice.
God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail from throat to belly and then plunges a huge filthy hand in, he grabs hold of your bloody tubes and they slip to evade his grasp but he squeezes hard, he insists, he pulls and pulls till all your innards are yanked out and the pain! We can’t even talk about that. And then he stuffs them back, dirty, tangled and torn. It’s up to you to do the stitching.

Harper: And then up you get. And walk around.

Mormon Mother: Just mangled guts pretending.

Harper: That’s how people change. ”

–Tony Kushner, Angels in America


One thought on “For Better or For Worse

  1. “I have also sucked it up and ventured out when I’m at my worst.”

    This is something I think most people could never appreciate, but I think it’s absolutely huge. The times I’ve gone out there when I’m feeling my very worst (and usually I’ve been more or less forced to–we’re talking “I’ll definitely get fired/fail/get kicked out of my apartment if I don’t”), it’s just…so difficult. I respect you for “sucking it up”. And I respect and even envy you for never having purged. I WISH to hell and back that I’d never started.

    Keep working. You’re awesome and I hope you know that!

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