Also pronounced “fuh-TAHS”, because that somehow sounds more regal.
Similarly, Large Marge Squared (said in a Boston accent, I don’t remember why, some vestige of my college days).
These are the nicknames I have given myself.
I sometimes try to ignore her, this nasty voice in my head who says such terrible things. It doesn’t usually work. She’s very loud, insistent even. I try to change the conversation and speak kindly to her. She does not respond well to that. She’s kind of a bitch, truth be told. So usually, I just give in (me, who can argue anything, with anyone?!), resigned, and say “You’re right, I am fat.”
The first time I said the words out loud I was in Bali, about a month ago: I have an eating disorder. I had acknowledged them, I had written them, I had hinted them, but had never come out and said them. Before, I could somehow convince myself that it was normal to eat brownie mix straight from the bowl in lieu of dinner. I mean, for me it WAS normal. Like when I ate only Nutri-Grain Bars, Junior Mints and rice during my first year of college. Or the bags of candy that I would “sneak” throughout the day in high school, although no one else was fooled. All of those times I declined food in public, claiming to not like something, but going home and eating it in the privacy of my apartment, where no one would ever know; so many secrets. Intense, grueling cleanses followed by sugar binges. All or nothing, almost always; my personality so comfortable in extremes.
There have been stretches where the disorder recedes, a “remission” of sorts. This month, this holiday season, however, has rattled me. It started in LA, continued in NYC, followed me to NJ. What began as a bag of candy on a long flight morphed into a brownie, followed by a cookie (3), followed by a cupcake (s), followed by wine, followed by…a seemingly endless stream of sugar and fat, of regret and remorse. There’s no binge and starve mode happening here; it has been an epic 3 week food-fest, one hell of a bender fueled by holiday treats and year end stresses. It has taken a toll on my body and my spirit.
I don’t see most people having these rapid downward spirals, although perhaps they do. Maybe it is normal.
My hips used to regularly have bruises from pressing into the floor during yoga. Faint black and blue marks that almost looked like finger prints. There is now a soft layer of padding covering those bones. They don’t bruise anymore. I miss the bruises. I mourn those missing bruises. Is that normal?
I emailed a new friend recently and told her that I hoped to develop food poisoning, or a stomach bug. How another friend told me to lick a subway pole, that could make me sick. That since there is no subway in LA, maybe I would lick a yoga mat and hopefully catch something that would propel me into rapid weight loss (I was kidding–mostly. She was aghast.) Is that normal?
How do I know how to be normal when I don’t know what normal is? Or if there even is a “normal”?
I can only come up with the things I do know:
-I don’t want to lie in bed, praying for sleep to come but kept awake by guilt, and shame about what I’ve eaten, and a stomachache that comes from being either too full or too hungry
-I don’t want to cancel dinner with friends because it’s a restriction day, or because I don’t trust my willpower when confronted with a restaurant menu
-I don’t want to ever again think “I wish I was able to throw up (I’m not), I’d feel so much better…” (or even jokingly utter the phrase “lick a yoga mat” again)
-I don’t want to feel this out of control, feeling like a slave to this binge/starve cycle
So why can’t I drag myself out of it?
My beautiful friend Sonia is a life coach, and explained to me that setting an intention is a great way to start making changes in your life. You start the day with an intention, and that makes what you want clear and sets it out into the world. It makes total sense, which appeals to my need for logic and reason. And don’t things become more real when you write them down?
Yet one month after we had this conversation, I have not written down one intention. No “Today I will eat healthy food that nourishes me”. No “I will honor what my body needs”. Not even “I will ignore the nasty voice today”. It’s baffling to me that I cannot do something so simple. Almost like I’m purposely refusing, rebelling. Is it possible that I’m not ready to really give this up?
I have been asking a lot of questions in my writing, and finding answers and lessons when and where I didn’t anticipate them. But this time, I have tons of questions, and no answers.
I don’t know what I am holding onto here. I don’t know why I can’t just get it under control. I don’t know why it’s getting worse.
There’s no answer. There’s no lesson learned. There’s no take away.
I want to be able to hear only my other nicknames. From my mom, who calls me Kate Face, or Sweet Peach when she’s feeling especially nostalgic. Ka-elly, what my dad says when he starts with my name and finishes with my sister’s. My friends’ variations of my name…Kate, Katie D, KD, Kitty, even K-K-K-Katie. The nicknames from people who love me, who sustain me.
It would really be great if I became one of those people.