I stumbled across an old friend's website today. I won't go into details or give any clues as to who this person is. But the shock I found on the web page is the subject of this diatribe.
She looked (looks) emaciated.
Not thin, not skinny, not petite or small-boned or tiny.
I can say this because I know what she looks like. She is indeed a smaller-boned person who leans towards thinness. But I have other friends who are small-boned, athletic, nutritious, figure-conscious.
These people spark my jealousy and must know that I talk about them behind their back.
Yes, I even talk about you.
I'm kidding. But really...
Normally when a friend of mine loses weight or tones up or otherwise changes their appearance, I am jealous. I am happy for them, of course, but I'll just claim the jealousy. It is there. Staring at me from their rock-hard abs and sculpted thighs is an evil little mini-me who taunts me with the fact that I'll never again have the time or, let's face it, resolve to stick with a program long enough to shed my handles of love.
But this friend got my immediate concern and sympathy in a way that is pretty rare for me to give. She looks unwell, and she looks as though she needs someone to help her.
It made me remember a time when I also needed someone to help me. No, not that time....or that time...ah yes, it was that particular event de crazy moi.
If you didn't know me...here's a quick recap of the Terrors of Teenage Tiffany. A very very edited version. Let's not relive all the madness, shall we?
I was a faaaat kid. I wanted to not be a faaaaaaat kid. So I started dieting (healthily) and exercising, and soon noticed some very happy results. I was healthier and happier and at a weight that my doctor said was good for a 14 year old of my height and bone structure.
But...just a few more pounds...I could wear a size 6! So I kicked up the workouts and cut out the larger servings and watched my calories. Awesome! Size 6 was mine, all mine!
And for reasons unknown to me, perhaps because I got used to size 6 and then it started to look bigger or maybe because I'm somewhat of a control freak and had nothing better to do, I decided that all forms of animal are not to be eaten, including dairy and gelatin and of course hamburgers. And sugar? Sugar is the devil! Wicked tempter of good girls who just want to be thin! Away with you, vile white demon. I will dally with you no more!
Thus I won my way in to the realm of size 4. And then it got really bad.
I'm sure you can guess what is coming. I had developed....I'm sure you've never heard of it....anorexia. Silently it crept into my door, unbidden but actually welcome. You never see a problem for what it is until much later, as I found to be very true with my ED. Through my iron clad determination and unparalleled will power, I became better than everybody else. Other lesser mortals were tempted with frozen yogurt and potatoes. But I knew better. Food was bad, and I would win the war against it.
In time my 5'7 frame held 103 pounds. I already have a longish face, so you can imagine how attractive I was. My brother-in-law, that gem of man, called me horseface. But he was right, I did look really weird.
Loooong haaaaard story short, I got very sick and needed to go to the doctor about 841 times and that was the easy part. My sainted sister pulled me out of the Wicked Pit of Eating Disorders with her amazing charms and humor.
I had to take pills to make me gain weight and save my organs from completely shutting down and walking out on me. It was hard to go from 103 to 173...especially in high school. But again, I made it and am no worse for the wear.
Or am I?
Since looking at my friend's website, I have noticed a dramatic increase in my self-loathing. I notice every jiggle, each lump and unsightly bulge. I reach for my baggiest jeans and whatever will cover up as much skin as possible without making me look like those poor girls who just came off that farm. (Whew...another topic for another day...)
Like other issues I've dealt with, I notice an ebb and flow type reaction. Some days I'm my biggest fan, and the world cannot stop me. Other days I am embarrassed to be up and walking around and I don't want to eat around people. I joke that I'm in no danger of falling back into that old pattern, but in truth I'm just not in danger of the pattern showing on my body again. Because the pattern has been cut and placed into my brain, and I don't know that I've ever really excommunicated myself of its tormenting friendship.
I'm in a size 6 that some days feels SASSY! and other times feels GROSS. My brain switches glasses when I look in the mirror. I cannot say how it happens, but sometimes I truly see 9 chins and 14 arm wobbles. Other times, I'm almost as beautiful as Angelina.
I'm going to a wedding in just under six weeks. I'm very much looking forward to the California trip and the time with family and sun and wine country and Disneyland. But like any other girl I know, I'm focused about The Wedding In Which I Will Have To Wear A Dress That Makes Me Look Better Than All The Other Girls There Without Appearing Catty. It is, as you may deduce, a big deal.
I HATE this about myself. I would like to be more like my sis-in-law Chelsea who always looks great and doesn't really worry about what she looks like. Then again, she and my husband and their older sister have the metabolism of an army of squirrels and will never have to worry about their weight.
I want to stop thinking/fretting/obsessing over the whole weight issue. It is a waste of my time and energy. But as soon as I tell it to bugger off, it bites me in the thigh flub. And then I cry.
Oh good and gentle reader, what am I to do? I am otherwise an intelligent and strong type of person, and this really only detracts from my personality. Nobody wants to hear me recite everything I have eaten since last Thursday. I've tried to tell them, but seriously, they aren't interested.
My little girls will soon be big girls and I don't EVER want them dealing with these types of issues. I want them to be happy with their brains, bodies, beauty, and anything else that starts with the letter B.
I'm trying to stamp out the fire of this problem before it gets any bigger. But every time I put my foot to the flame, I just get burned.
Speaking of fire....mmm....do we have stuff to make s'mores?