Counting calories was the only way that I knew how to control anything in my life. My mother used to call me fat. But I wasn’t. I didn’t understand why she would do this to me. It tortured me. I remember my favorite snack after school: Hostess Cupcakes. I can still taste them in my mouth the cream filling was satisfying and the chocolate melted onto my tongue. When she came home from work and saw me, the residue of the cupcakes were on my face and she knew what I had been eating.
“You’re going to get fat eating that,” She said with disgust. I was so ashamed of myself and I didn’t know what to do. So I ran into my room and cried on my bed.
This would happen several times after this incident. I remember another time during Thanksgiving when the pumpkin pie was served. I had already had a slice and I wanted another one. My mother turned to me and said: “so you’re going to tack on another 10 pounds there?” I didn’t understand why she was so cruel to me. Perhaps it was because she was overweight herself.
I ate the second slice of pumpkin pie reluctantly. Then I excuse myself to go to the bathroom and I threw it up into the toilet. I was exhilarated and I felt like this was something that I could control finally. I couldn’t control my mother’s abuse but I could control what I eat and whether I threw it up. I did this for a year. From age 14 to 15.
My friends at school started to notice that I was losing weight. I would get compliments on how I looked and I loved that. I went down to a size 2. I was excited about the summer time so I could wear a bikini. But when it actually happened I was shocked at what I found; I could see my ribs. I stood in the women’s restroom next to the beach frozen. When I saw my body, I didn’t recognize it. My face turned white when I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror. I didn’t want to go to the beach and show everybody what I had become. But I had no choice, I couldn’t stand in the bathroom all day. My friend Gemma looked at me, her eyes bulged out of her head. She said, “oh my God, you need help.”
I started to cry. I didn’t know where the tears were coming from but I was glad that she cared enough to say something.
It was that moment, the look on her face that got me the help that I needed. She was the one that drove me to the rehab facility. She was the one that spoke to the counselor for me. She was the one who told the counselor how my mother had shamed me for so long because I couldn’t speak I couldn’t do anything but look at the ground and think about how my body looked in that disgusting women’s restroom.
Gemma saved my life. I don’t know if she knows that but she did. I will never fully recover from my eating disorder but I know that I have the tools to control it. We all relapse in some way or another. We all trip and fall on our faces and get back up again. But the most important thing is that you don’t keep this to yourself. Please tell someone, anyone who you trust. You can get the help you need when you’re honest. If you’re dealing with this sort of thing I hope that you are kind to yourself. I will try to be too.
I, too had Gemmas in my life. Friends who helped me when I needed it.