The Anorexic Parade

Okay, so you know how I was whining about being bored?

Spoke a little too soon on that one.

I got a 2-3 page list of "Recommended Summer Reading" for my writing program. Woo-hoo! So I went to the library yesterday afternoon on my way to the post office (Rio, that was for you ;) and grabbed a stack of books. Because the weather was quite lovely, I decided to plunk myself down at Starbucks and start some reading with a Green Tea Frap. Mmm-mmm good.

I must preface the following with this: my hometown is by and large wealthy. Very snooty and stuck up, the oh-you-only-have-a-Lexus-I-have-a-Jag kind of place. You vacation in Aspen and Cancun. You wear expensive clothing. And so on.

I stick out like a sore thumb. My car is decent but not going to win any awards or anything. My clothes for the past several years have been cheap because my size has been fluctuating so much that I couldn't afford most items. I don't ski. I don't sunbathe, in part because my ability to tan is nothing compared to my ability to burn. I am the opposite of all the people here.

Anyway, here I am, sitting at a little table outside Starbucks, basking in the sun and trying not to freak out over my impending assignments, when I notice a strange phenomenon: there are a lot of anorexic-looking women parading around. I know my radar is fine-tuned for stuff like this, but even so, there were a lot of bony looking people coming in and out of the store.

I was instantly jealous.

It was sad and sick and twisted. I sighed winsomely, like when you see a really pretty item in a store window that you want but can't have. I wanted their bodies. Period. I did. There's absolutely no getting around that. It's not pretty, but it's the truth.

Then, I thought about it. A person is a package deal. I can't just have so-and-so's body, I also have to have their life in order to look like that.

Do I want their lives?

First of all, I don't want to live like an anorexic anymore. It's like I want the product but don't want to pay the price. Kind of like anorexic shoplifting. I can just see Security come running, "Put the anorexia back! Put it back! I'm gonna call the cops!!!" I have so many memories of those times. I remember what it's like to fear every bite that you eat. To stand up and fall over. To be closer to your gym shoes than any other person. To go to the ER on a regular basis. To retreat and withdraw into yourself, a self that grows smaller every day.

Do I want that? Do I really really want that?

I don't think so.

And then I realize that all of that is part and parcel of having an anorexic body. That there's no other way around it.

I see celebrities on the covers of magazines, and the comments of the people in the checkout line- "I wanna be just like her." Guys do this too. But whichever person you choose, you don't just get their body, you get their life. Constantly being followed by photographers. Having every inch of your body scrutinized by millions of people. Not being able to really be yourself because there's always someone watching.

In my opinion, that would suck. It would be a plastic fork lobotomy in the making.

At the moment, I can deal with my appearance. I don't necessarily like it, but it doesn't necessarily ruin my day. People have yet to flee from the sight of me, so I don't think I look like Shrek. I don't feel super-dee-duper terrific about my life, but I try to hold on to the teeny thread of hope that it will get better. After waking up in a hospital room after overdosing, well, it can't get much worse.

I want to be hopeful, but I want to be realistic. I thought I would be damn-near recovered at the end of the summer. I thought I was going to go to school pretty much "all fixed" and go on to lead a wonderful, productive life. Now I have to keep healing. That there's still tons of work to be done. That I've made the turn and committed myself to recovery, but I still have this huge hole to pull myself out of.

So when I seem to be watching an anorexic parade, I remind myself: there is a cost to that. This is an illness, not an appearance. That my brain will always have the capacity to starve. It's how I'm wired. But I also have the power to do otherwise.

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mary said...

Good thing you are learning how to rewire that brain of your's!

Sarah said...

This is a really great post, Carrie.

carrie said...


Though I can do a mean Shrek impression.

Laura Collins said...

"The power to do otherwise..."

That is so beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Recovery is a long, ongoing process. Just keep going. You're doing a phenomenal job.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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