I Don’t Know That I Should Go That Far Down Some Dark Avenue.


It’s a truth I don’t want to admit to because I was “that girl” for so long and I came so far only to become “that girl” again – Although it does strike me that perhaps I was always “that girl” and had merely fooled myself into believing that recovery was an option. I did try, you see. I tried damn hard. But it just didn’t stick. It’s been fourteen years now of starvation and purging and doing all the disgusting things that girls like me do in secret. We shove our fingers down our throats until our teeth scrape our knuckles raw. We let food rot in thermoses under beds and in drawers and force feed ourselves just to make ourselves vomit. We eat laxatives and go on liquid diets. We smoke cigarettes and drink coffee, not because we want to, but because they’re an appetite suppressant. We starve and we sleep and we set up a series of punishments and rewards – If I make it all day without eating, I can do something nice for myself. If I do eat, however, I lose that opportunity. It’s sick and it’s pathetic and it’s infuriating. I, at equal turns, play the role of the parent and the child – Insolent,  my round faced and youthful self refuses to eat as the elder Amber shakes her counterpart with more strength than I actually possess.

“You’re killing yourself.” I say, with the biting restraint that cuts more than a scream. “You’re killing yourself and you know it and you don’t care.”

It’s an old ghost I’ve let back into my life, and I welcome it as a close friend. Bulimia and I, we embrace with thin limbs wrapped around one another, feeling our spines protrude slightly more each day and it feels like victory.

You see? I don’t fail at everything I try!  I can succeed at something! I mean, it’s only been two months, really, and I’ve already lost about fifteen pounds and I’ve gotten so good at restricting. I remember to count my calories and I’ve cut out everything bad and I don’t eat meals larger than my fist. It’s all the old practices that I adopted like religion before and I’m doing it. I’m doing good! I’m making you proud!

It occurs to me, as I think these thoughts, how disgusting it is, how disgusting I am.

I know all the reasons behind it, of course. I’ve read the books and gone to the doctors and I understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. That, however, doesn’t make it right. Knowing the psychology of killing yourself doesn’t make the suicide justifiable. That sense of guilt only makes me more ashamed of myself, though. And that shame? It only makes it all worse.

The bulimia begins to affect every aspect of my life in such a short, short span. I get tired. So tired. I shake with hypoglycemia – An affliction I brought on myself after years of self-inflicted starvation – and my head hurts no matter how many asprin I swallow. Insomnia hangs overhead like the ever present shadows that reside under my eyes – Eyes once so brilliant and alight are now hollow and I wonder if anyone notices all these symptoms. My face, it puffs and my ribs protrude and I lose nearly twenty pounds in a month, sizes dropping down and arms and chest and cheeks sprout a light covering of coarse, blonde hairs. My body is going into starvation mode, covering itself in a fur to prevent hypothermia. These are all the tell-tale signs but who, I wonder, will notice? No one I know has ever dealt with an eating disorder before. No one I know is going to look at me and inquire about lanugo. I’m getting away with murder here.

I become an expert at lying – At home, I leave before dinner with a nonchalant “I’m going out with some friends”. When I go out with friends, I tell them “I ate at home.” The most alarming part is that I’ve fallen back into these habits so easily that I don’t even need to make myself purge. I eat and the vomit, it comes like a reflex, so natural and easy.

I sit on the floor of my bathroom. My limbs, they shake. My throat, it burns. I make ridiculous rules for myself, rules that test my commitment, my self-control, and when I break them, I tear myself down. My self confidence falters and suddenly, I’m not an adult anymore. I’m my college-aged self, standing in front of a mirror with a measuring tape, keeping a food diary, counting calories, and shying away when a boy leans in for a kiss, lest he notice the smell of vomit on my breath. I crave human contact but my face flushes at the idea of being touched. All the old phobias – They come back to me and it’s as if they never left.

Two years ago, I began to relapse and I realized if I do this to myself again, it’s very likely that there’s no going back. It’s very likely that I will die.

Suddenly, that thought doesn’t seem so scary.


2 Responses to “I Don’t Know That I Should Go That Far Down Some Dark Avenue.”

  1. Zunk Says:

    I spent a little over seven years with a girl that had a pretty severe, often hospitalized eating disorder. Where I know everything not to say about it – misplaced positivity and half-felt, common compliments included – I do hope that all of the best, parental self-advice behind your struggle will prevail.

  2. Roxie Says:

    I know the symptoms of starving oneself. I was anorexic for a brief time, to the point where I was experiencing dysmenorhea, hair loss, and sprouting hair over my whole body. I don’t think you are at all disgusting; I think you are beautiful, and I think you are broken, as we all are in different ways, some worse than others. I only hope that your brokenness might be healed.

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