My Story: My Body

I’ve always been fat.

Trigger Warning: Eating disorders, body image, racism

When I was small, I was proud of how big I was. I was the first kid in my class to top the fabled 100lb mark, and I was well aware of the advantage it would give me in a fight: I could overpower even the boys if I needed to. It never occurred to me at that age that I would hate myself so very deeply for being the way I was.

Even at that age, however, I hated my hair. It was frizzy and unpredictable and I was “tender-headed” so it hurt to have my mom comb it out. She often lamented out loud that my hair was impossible and she had no idea what to do with it. I envied little black girls who had mothers who knew how to handle their hair.

And my skin… I told myself it was the color of mud and mud was ugly so I was ugly. Not that I’d let anyone else tell me that. One girl sneered at me, “At least I’m not black”, during a fight. I sneered right back, “At least I’m not racist.”

I think I hit her at some point. I was pretty violent as a kid and that wasn’t our only altercation. Her name was Danielle. To this day, I hear that name and I hear it sneered in an ugly tone in my head because that was how I talked about her to my friends. Danielle the racist bitch. She’s probably a perfectly decent person today.

By high school I was keenly aware of my weight and the problems it was causing me. This was when the Dark Times were beginning, so I generally hated everything about myself. I told myself I was unloveable and worthless, in part because I was so fat it was grotesque, it was disgusting, who could love a fat ugly sausage like me. I began to throw away my lunches as soon as I reached school; I knew if I kept them I’d be too tempted by the delicious offerings and I’d eat them, and eating was the enemy. The gnawing feeling in my stomach I tried to convince myself was good, was freeing, was holy, was pure. When I was living with my dad, he’d get up and make breakfast, then go get himself ready for work; while he was out of the room I’d trash my lunch. I’d claim I wasn’t hungry at dinner and pick at my food. I hated myself for whatever slim amount I did eat.

I was a dancer at the time; dance class was an hour and a half a day. I used to feel lightheaded and dizzy and hope I’d pass out because it was so romantic to overdo it to the point where you’d physically pass out. But I never did. Nobody ever noticed how weak I felt, and I told myself I wasn’t allowed to complain.

I lost ten pounds in a month. I was ecstatic. Then I stopped losing weight. I weighed 150 lbs, at a height of five foot four inches. No matter how little I ate, I never got below that. I was still the fat girl.

I tried purging the little I did eat. I couldn’t manage to trigger actual vomiting. Gagging, yes, and sometimes hacking up some bile, but I just couldn’t throw up. I’ve only rarely in my life thrown up when I felt nauseas; more often I’d just feel sick for hours and hours on end and never actually expel whatever it is that’s making me ill. The most vomiting I managed to induce would be with suicide attempts, and those were in a different category in my mind, though I did occasionally consider using medication to try and force vomiting. I hate feeling sick, however.

I had a friend at the time urging me on, giving me tips. Drink lots of water, she said. Eat celery if you have to eat. Use a toothbrush to purge. I used to read “pro-ana” websites, in the hopes of figuring out what was wrong with me and how to make myself become thin like the others. I diagnosed myself “ED-NOS” because I wasn’t technically anorexic; you had to be underweight to be anorexic and the scale stubbornly refused to drop below 150, a BMI of 25.7 where 25 or higher was “overweight”.

Today my BMI is more like 36. I haven’t calculated it in a while. To see in stark black and white how hideously fat I am is triggering to me, makes me feel sick to my stomach. Makes me feel like a failure. I can’t count calories — every number is too high. I can’t even focus on dieting for weight control. Instead I focus on balancing my diet, using low-calorie substitutions as a habit, telling myself I can eat whatever I want because my mental health is more important than my size. But it’s not. I know it’s not. I know I’m huge and I know people judge me constantly. Even reading Health At Any Size can’t shake that deep-rooted feeling.

Physical effects continue as well. I get hungry every three to four hours or so; I try to eat smaller meals more frequently where I can, or healthy snacks. I rarely feel hunger in a normal way, though my stomach has begun growling more and more frequently in recent years. Hunger, for me, means I feel light-headed and dizzy and weak and like I have to either drop everything and eat right that second or my brain will shut off and I’ll be desperate for a nap within half an hour. I get snappish and impatient and grumpy before I even realize the issue. I’ve had bloodwork done; other than occasional slightly-high cholesterol, I’m fine. No blood sugar issues, no thyroid issues, just ever-increasing weight and a body that forgot how to ask for what it wants in a reasonable manner.

I like exercise. It makes me feel like I’m doing something about the problem, like I can maybe get a handle on this and drop some weight. But now I’m a cripple who can barely manage the stairs at work without sharp pain, let alone a gym. Physical therapy is going, but not going well; the doctor admitted disappointment with how slow my progress is, primarily because I can’t afford to go twice a week like most patients and secondarily because I don’t handle pain well, so when I’m in pain I don’t do my exercises at home. But someday I’ll be able to go to the gym again.

When I was a dancer I built up a strong layer of leg muscle; unfortunately, not the right kind of leg muscle to help my walking issues. But my arms have always been weaker. I can’t lift things above my head very long nowadays. Combine that with my asthma and I feel utterly helpless sometimes, as though my body were too weak to function, let alone carry me from place to place. I hate it and it hates me, and I wish it weren’t that way, but I don’t know how much I can do. I try not to worry about my appearance, but how can I make myself not hate being in pain, being weak, struggling to breathe? These are natural things to hate.

Chaos loves my body. Hopefully someday I will to. Already I’m starting to find things I like — my breasts, for one thing, are huge and full and fun to play with and sexy, even if they do make my back hurt. The more I can do to focus on the good, the less I’ll think about the bad. One day at a time, every day.

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1 Response to My Story: My Body

  1. t says:

    Good luck – and I think you’re a wonderful, natural, writer by the by =)

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