I should really be reading for tomorrow's classes at the moment, but my mind is full. And my nose cartilage is involuntarily twitching--disturbing?
I had a "farewell" appointment with my nutritionist of nearly two years late last week. It was time; I spent the summer not thinking about her, and I wasted very few brain cells angsting over imaginary body fat. I'm even considering quitting therapy; I know deep down that I'm just fine. Healthy. Messed up to some normal, Ivy League, type A degree.
I have a well-cultivated awareness of my remaining body issues, and well-honed mental tricks to logic myself in the right direction. I eat when I'm hungry (and sometimes when I'm not but a bite of chocolate is called for) and have a healthier attitude--real, not "holier than thou"--surrounding food than most of the women I know that never had an eating disorder. Women chatter makes me queasy; what the hell is wrong with this culture?!?! My clothes are the same size they've always been. Despite all this, I feel very vulnerable right now, and unsure (despite all concrete evidence, which is of course how eating disorders do their thing) of how to trust my own instincts. Much of it may just be oh-shit-I'm-a-senior-in-college-here-comes-real-life anxiety, rechanneled into a form I can pummel, but that haunts me just the same.
For instance, I choose not to fast on Yom Kippur, which was yesterday. I know it's the right decision--I was hungry for four years; I do it very well; it can easily be seductive; it makes me sick and dizzy very fast. After all that hunger, I figure I have plenty of fasting points in the bank. Yet, and this is despite not being religious, it made me quite guilty. My superego is probably its own platonic ideal.
I am not anorexic. I never was, technically speaking. I was never quite thin enough, and my period was always normal. There was a time when I was sick enough that I wanted nothing more than to lose both things and gain a bona fide diagnosis, despite awareness of the physiological havoc ceasing menstruation wreaks on the body. Summer 2005, I finally had enough time--all day every day with NYC at my fingertips--to decide with finality that living with an eating disorder is not a life. I decided to get one. It wasn't easy; my nutritionist told me during the big goodbye that I am a completely different person now than I was just a bit over a year ago. This is true. Along the way, I dissolved a few friendships, re-carved my outlook on life and its priorities, started being able to appreciate my body, (<--oxford comma!) and learned how to sit with emotion for the first time in God knows how long. There were days in Spring of my sophomore year when I walked around in a floaty daze; it was as though the colors around me brightened because I was feeling things. I'd forgotten how.
Yet I still have overcompensating, horrified reactions to all things ED-related. I get nauseated. Ironic, no? I can empathize with it all, but I try as hard as I can to refuse to do it. A girl next to me in class last week was teensy and eating soy yogurt. At the smell, I grew queasy and developed a huge headache; I hate yogurt and ate it all the time when I couldn't eat other things. When restricting, it's easier to eat things that are gooey and gloppy and thus slide down your pathetic little throat with minimal effort. Hopefully one day, it will just be yogurt, and I can be detachedly sad for the fact that its eater is probably suffering.
Also, there is a new documentary making the media rounds called "Thin," directed by Harvard grad photographer Lauren Greenfield. People is running a print feature on it this week (accompanied, of course, by photos of "I swear I'm not anorexic; my ribs just naturally leap out of my skin" celebrities, which teenage girls will then clip to use as "thinspiration," reading the cautionary text framing the photos as things that happen to other people who aren't invincible), and there is a trailer on the web site. I watched it, rapt, despite the feeling that I should continue to keep as much distance between my still-new self and our bullshit culture as possible. Nutritionist pointed out that, even after a year, it is still new, so this is okay.
I usually forbid myself to think about my recent past; most of my college friends don't know that I spent the first half of my time here hungry. I love that. My beloved high school mates can tell a different tale. However, the other day I flippantly mentioned it to a newer friend, and it would be good to explore why, in the context of all these other thoughts.
I should resolve NEVER TO WRITE OF THIS AGAIN! on the grounds that giving eating disorders text space helps them exist. But a lot of the things I really like about myself now are hard-won reactions to who I was before. I think it's better to let this narrative play out naturally. If I'm thinking about this, so be it. If not, which has been more the norm, so be it. My inner critic wastes enough of my energy already.
Let's end with (and now for) something completely different: Margaret Atwood has a new book out! Moral Disorder. It's sitting here mocking the fact that I'm about to go read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions instead. And In Praise of Shadows: "The parlor may have its charms, but the Japanese toilet truly is a place of spiritual repose."