copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
The holiday season is the best and worst of times. It always was. The food is phenomenal. The feelings that fill a heart, mind, or is it my stomach can cause enormous misery. For a person immersed in the rituals of bulimia the latter weeks of the year are better than all others. Opportunities to indulge are ample during the holy days. The selection of food fare is far superior. Scientific research on food reaps ample rewards. The secretive practice of self-imposed solitary confinement causes much angst, or could, if one were not able to find an escape in food.
Copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
She heard it said every time the topic was brought up. The words flow from their mouths as the food did from hers. Terminology spills into the sink of the uninformed and ignorant just as her fare did almost immediately after she swallowed it. Resembling her refusal to digest what she ate, they reject what is offered to them. Bulimics do not do as they do so that they might feel in control. While marinating in a myriad of feelings and flavors, a binger that purges is not exerting his or her desire to control. She cannot. She knows this all too well.
© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
As we stood face-to-face and quietly discussed my years of anorexia and bulimia, I was reminded of what I always knew and yet, was too distracted to acknowledge aloud. It was not that I never spoke of it before, I had on many occasions. However, this conversation helped me to realize the heartache my illness [and I unintentionally] caused more deeply.
Once you label me, you negate me.
~ Soren Kierkegaard [Danish Philosopher]
An article in the New York Times grabbed my attention instantly. It appeared in the health section. The title, One Spoonful at a Time. This writing was heartfelt. Author, Harriet Brown tells a gripping tale. It took me to memories of my own struggle with anorexia and bulimia and how these affected my family. In this exposé, the dilemma of how to treat the condition was thoroughly discussed. I wish to share my response to this situation and story. My personal experience of this is vast. I hope my thoughts, realizations, and rejoinders on this topic will be helpful to those grappling with similar issues. I trust that the effects of anorexia and bulimia are trials and tribulations for all those afflicted by these.
The subject of weight alone is a sensitive probing. An individual need not starve, binge, or purge in wrestling with weight. On the same day another New York Times essay loomed large entitled "Big People on Campus." This commentary contemplated the plight of being "fat." I was once that too. Many may muse in this moment, all anorexics believe they are chubby, and while that may or may not be true, I actually was at times in my life. My weight rarely was stable; nor was I when reflecting upon it. However, my weight was never the issue; it was a distraction, a symptom of what was within.
I have been working on a project, for what feels like forever. I am attempting to expand my Hyper Text Markup Language [html] horizons. I am working to broaden my comprehension of Cascading Style Sheets. Though I have heard many say, learning to create a wed page is easy, as I broached the construction, I did as I do, I freaked. When stretching beyond my own limits I often feel paralyzed. Each time I begin a novel endeavor I quietly and subtly panic. I live in fear though few would ever know this.
I suspect we all do. When the common utterance is stated, “We are all our own worst critic,” we substantiate that humans are insecure. They [we, I] question their achievements and their limitations. They [we, I] ask are they [we, I] worthy, wonderful, or weak.
They watch my weight and say that they are worried. They are awaiting my passage. They believe I want to die and think I am working towards this vision. I am not; I never was.
As did many, I commented in a place or two. Then I stumbled on an observation by Rees Chapman. This person’s remarks hit me where I lived, not in the Zone© by Dr. Barry Sears, as the writer mentioned, but in the zone. My zone encompasses years of struggle, and an ultimate realization, a resolution. Mine was not one of those you make on New Year’s Day; nor was it one that was left my the wayside.
My resolve lingered; I think it will last for a lifetime. Actually, I know it will. In truth, I did not consciously choose to change the way I interacted with food; I did not think I could. I committed to nothing, I only thought about it, as did Chapman.
She filled her home with food. She shopped daily. Her cupboards were full. She back-stocked; yet, there was never enough. What food would tickle her fancy? Which delicacies would she desire most? What might she indulge in and would these cause her stomach to bulge, even after she emptied it?
She studied food, the way it sat in her stomach and the smoothness with which it came up. Once downed, was she able to bring it all up again? Would parts linger in her belly? If the morsels did not come up in full, how long would they remain within? Would she be able to rid herself of all the food or only portions? What nutrients would be absorbed and what calories?
One day she overheard a neighbor speak of bulimia. Why was this woman discussing this? The young lady mentioned that bulimics destroy their teeth. Is that true? Would she be different?
She recalled how her habit had almost immediately affected her hair. She once had very, very, very long hair; it was extremely thick and wavy. A short time after she started satiating her stomach and then emptying it, she noticed that her hair changed. It thinned. It went straight. She had always wanted thinner and straighter hair, though now that she had it, she realized that it was not as she preferred. However, it was too late. She was locked into this habit, or so it seemed.
She wanted to stop and yet, she did not believe that she could. She tried. She cried, though rarely. The best part of eating endlessly and then throwing-up was that it took time, a lot of time if it were to be done well. She was a very through person; she would do it well. This left little time for thinking. Well, that had been her hope.
It was not true. She found herself bingeing and purging for hours. Nonetheless, there was still time. No matter how many moments were spent focusing on food, there was still time to think. She thought.
Initially, the process released her from feeling; however, ultimately, it left her feeling more, more cautious, more fearful, less fulfilled, and less perfect. Knowing or thinking that she could not stop, oh, that was another feeling. That feeling never seemed to fade.
[Chapter Five in a Series.]
It began so innocently and it grew so rapidly. It was a conscious decision in a moment and yet, I never thought that it would become a way of life. I could not have anticipated what was to come. Initially it took no effort. It came so easily; actually, the food came up so easily, smoothly. Morsels slid in and slid out. Later, it was a chore, the chore of my life!
No, vomiting was not difficult. My throat had become an amusement park for food; however, I was not amused. I did not want to share this adventure with friends, family, or acquaintances. I wanted to hide. I wanted to hide my food, my feelings; I wanted to hide “me!”
I did not want anyone to know who I was, what I was feeling, or what I was doing. I was a failure!!!!! I was not pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough; I was not perfect! Nonetheless, I survived. Oh, there were those that said I was wonderful, saw me as smart, even brilliant. Some believed me to be beautiful, however, they were not “I.” They did not know the real me.
They were not in my head, my heart, my body, or my soul and they did not know. They did not know what I hid. They could not; I was hiding that from myself.
[Part Four in an Ongoing Series.]