Sunday, April 1, 2007

So, When Are You Due?

I was struggling from the moment my husband said, “Jeanne? Did you know that it’s 5:30?”


Actually, I knew last night that today would be a rough day. I tossed my Friday outfit of jeans, camisole and blouse onto the basket outside the bathroom and paused. I returned to my closet and grabbed my jean skort, just in case.


Period’s coming anyday now. Add to that the gas from my intestinal troubles and you end up with a whole lot of bloat. Would my jeans fit? Would I even be able to button them?


Had I been recovery-focused, I would have returned the jeans to the closet. But my focus of the past two days was waning.


This morning, I grabbed the jeans, took a deep breath, and put them on.


I could just barely button them.


I stood on the toilet and looked at myself in the medicine chest mirror above the sink. I looked like a sauasge that had one end squeezed.


I have a lot of gas that should go away. I haven’t pooped yet. They’ll be more comfortable in a few hours. I don’t have time to change.


Self-conscious like never before with the knowledge that I looked fat, I drove my son to his daycare. I pumped my legs as if I were on a recumbent bike. Each time I farted, I smiled, knowing that each puff of noxious gas would translate to a few nanometers of comfort in my jeans.


By the time I got into work, my jeans were tight, but not straining. Still self-conscious, I ate my yogurt and two servings of high fiber cereal as slowly as possible. I munched a tiny apple right before my morning meeting with Gary.


Gary arrived, placed his laptop on the table with mine, and remarked, “You have everything booted up.”


I walked over and joined him. “Yup.”


He asked, “Are you gaining weight or are you expecting number two?”


What? I froze.


Edie squealed with delight, “See? SEE? I told you, I TOLD YOU! And you didn’t believe me. You ignored me. You pushed me aside and looked what happened? In just two days. TWO DAYS! You pig!”


I stammered a reply. "Are you saying that I'm fat? Because I'm not having number two."


He wasn't quite sure what to say at that point. I told him, "You really stepped in it this time, Gary."


The words, "I have an eating disorder, Gary. I don't need to hear that I'm fat." were on the tip of my tongue. As was the rhetorical question, "I'm bloated and PMSing, do you really want to go there?"


But I didn't say those things.


I grabbed a sweater from my chair. I had to cover up my bulging breasts and bulbous belly. If I could have, I would have changed out of my shirt into a T-shirt.


The thought in my head was, I really am fat. Here's my proof. Good thing I had a smaller breakfast this morning (as compared to the last two mornings.)


If I didn't want to get outside and get some fresh air, I would be hitting the stairmaster right now.


I’m overcome with a horrible sense of indecision – do I eat like a pig (read that as, normal) and hope that I make myself sick or do I go back to restricting and exercising? The dilemma is that restricting and exercising take time to show results. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I can’t drop 10 pounds in an hour.


But restricting makes me feel lighter, even when I’m not.


Will it take away the anger I feel at Gary’s audacity for even bringing up such a thing?


Will it take away the pain I feel that someone whom I thought was a decent fellow would say something so callous?


Will it release the tears of frustration that are hiding behind my eyes? Frustration at myself for struggling so with this problem. Frustration at society for placing such an emphasis on the way a woman looks. Frustration at fate for making it impossible for me to squeeze my short and squat genes into a pair of jeans.


No. Restricting, exercising, binging and purging, none will erase that remark from my brain. None will give me back that feeling of health that I had yesterday – when I placed only one sticker on my guilty poster, because only once did I feel guilty about fueling my body sufficiently.


I emailed my friend after the meeting. I simply typed what Gary had said with no commentary. He has been peppering me with emails since, trying to purge his anger at the insensitivity of Gary. In the latest email, he wrote, “Well, Happy Birthday to you.”


Snort.


I had forgotten that my birthday is Sunday.


Well, good thing I hadn’t planned on going out to eat this weekend.


My friend dropped in on his way out to lunch.


“You know it’s not true,” he punctuated. “How are you going to handle this?”


I couldn’t look him in the eyes.


Edie wouldn’t let me.


Eye contact would mean connecting. Connecting might mean that I would actually trust what he said rather than the proof of an acquaintance.


“Gary might have been thoughtless, but he is objective,” Edie whispers.


True. He is objective. He hasn’t a clue that I have an eating disorder.


“So why chastise him for having the balls to say something?”


I grabbed my workout shirt and deodorant and went to the ladies’ room. I changed from my flirty, flouncy, fun turquoise shirt and put on my semi-smelly gray T-shirt.


I’d rather smell than look fat.


I looked in the mirror as I washed my hands.


Fat.


I tied the shirt in a knot at my waist.


Fat.


I tried to tuck the shirt inside my jeans.


Beached whale.


I untucked my shirt. Took out my chignon and pulled my hair into a high ponytail.


Still fat.


I picked up my clothes and cell phone. I turned away from the mirror and started to cry. I looked at my thighs as they strained the thick denim that encased them. I felt the waistband cutting into the thick layer of fat hiding my abdomen.


No matter what I do, I’ll still be fat.


I wrapped my arms around me. No tears would come.


I just want to die.


Jack. I can’t die.


I stood up and returned to the library.


So.


Here I am.


It’s 11:40. Over two hours since the apple that I ate.


Lunchtime.


Decision time.


Do I eat and then walk or walk and then eat?


I need to think.


“You do your best thinking when you walk,” Edie reminds me.


I do my best avoidance when I walk.


“How are you going to handle this?” my friend had asked.


It’s a multiple choice question. I can:


a) restrict and exercise. Pretend that the comment didn’t hurt me in the slightest. Tamp my feelings until, in a few weeks, they burst forth in a binge.


b) eat and eat and eat. Eat until there is no food left in the vicinity and then hope and pray for a miracle – that I, for once, will be able to make myself throw up. Stuff my feelings until my hatred for myself (and my inability to vomit) causes me to go with option a.


c) write and talk about my feelings, eat to fuel my body, then walk to brighten my mood.

The first two are Edie. I’ve done them both at various times in my life.


And I’m still here.


I’m still struggling.


I still have an eating disorder.


So I choose d.


I wrote.


Now, I’m going to walk.


Then, I’ll eat a balanced, albeit light, lunch.


And worry about the next meal later.

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