Friday, May 05, 2006

The Backstory

Ok, so I started this blog as sort of a journal for myself. But I guess I should mention something about how I got here, so when people stumble across this, it has some continuity! :)

I have been worried about my weight ever since I can remember. I see pictures of myself when I was 7 or 8, and I’m always surprised that I was NOT a fat kid, because I even then I felt like I was. I guess it could have been caused by any number of things, but I think most of it probably had to do with wanting so much to be a ballerina. God I wanted to dance, but I really didn’t have the body for it. I wasn’t fat, but I sure as hell wasn’t a teeny-tiny little thing. Even at 12, I was more Salma Hayek than Charlize Theron. And lemme tell ya, Salma Hayek is beautiful, but she’s never gonna be a ballerina. :P

Basically, I was a really smart, really angry kid. I read before I was 2, finished high school (through homeschooling) when I was 12, started college at 14. As an adult, that’s impressive, but when you’re a kid, everyone else hates you for it. So all my friends were dance and theatre friends, mostly because they either didn’t know about where I was at in school, or because my admittedly mediocre (at best) dancing ability canceled out the “stuck-up intellect” thing!

By the time I was 17 or 18, I knew I wasn’t ever going to dance professionally. I’d had too many injuries by that time to be a good investment for any company, and I wasn’t very gifted. I worked hard, but it wasn’t enough to make up the difference. So I switched to acting, and frankly it was the best thing ever. I liked it better, I was better at it – it just worked out all the way around. Sometime in there though, I stopped dancing because I loved it, and started dancing because it was a way for me to control my body. I could make my body do things the human body was never meant to do, and that level of control was really gratifying.

When I transferred to an art school for acting they made me quit dancing, and that was the beginning of my major weight obsession. A friend of mine once said that eating disorders are almost always about either punishment or control, and in my case, they were always about control. I had been able to eat just about anything when I was dancing, although even then I was pretty obsessive and weird about it. I lived one summer on nothing but carrots and pasta salad, then went back to school and resumed my diet of nothing but Diet Coke and chocolate malt balls. It’s amazing what you can eat when you’re working out 40 hours a week! Ha!

When I left dancing, though, those malt balls caught up with me pretty fast!!! I put on the freshman fall-semester 20 (screw 15; why do anything half-assed?), and then the spring-semester 15 in addition to the 20! That summer was the first summer that I started to get really out of control with food. I would eat 4 pieces of pizza, then nothing for 4 days (1 day for every piece), then an entire half-gallon of ice-cream, then nothing for several more days. I finally managed to knock that off, but when I went back to school that year, I settled in to a steady diet of chicken and broccoli, all steamed, all the time. Better than pizza and ice cream, but still not exactly a balanced diet. I didn’t care. I was LOSING WEIGHT. I alternated the chicken-broccoli diet with a “cleansing” diet that I heard about: 3 yogurts a day for a week, 3 apples with cheese a day for a week, 3 bananas a day for a week, nothing at all for a week, then back the other way: bananas/week, apples and cheese/week, yogurt/week. I liked that one because it lasted a long time. :P (I have to say here that I now realize the lunacy of listening to your anorexic friends tout something as a “cleansing” diet!! ::::cough::::: stupid ::::cough, cough:::::)

So I continued starving, obsessing, bingeing, etc. though most of college. My last year, I blew out my knee and was totally unable to exercise for about a month. Needless to say, I gained a significant amount of weight, and after that, the pendulum swung the other way. I figured, screw it, I’m never going to lose this weight, I’ve always been fat, fuck the world, I don’t give a shit anymore. Except of course, I did.

So: from uncontrollable deprivation to uncontrollable bingeing. I gained a fairly significant amount of weight over the next 3 or 4 years. (No, I’m not going to tell you how much. I’m not that enlightened yet.) My real low point, my “bottom” if you will, came when I was living on my own. I’d gone to the grocery store that day and done my weekly shopping. That night, I was sitting on the couch watching TV, eating chocolate swirl ice cream from the container. I became obsessed with eating the WHOLE swirl, which of course meant I had to eat the ice cream around it in order to get to the swirl. The next thing I knew, I was standing in the kitchen, several hours had passed, and the kitchen was EMPTY. Seriously. Somewhere in the intervening hours I had consumed everything in my kitchen, including (but not limited to): a dozen eggs, a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, a pound of butter, a pound of pasta and sauce, 2 bags of chips, 4 apples, 6 bananas, a box of Kraft mac’n’cheese, 2 cans of biscuits, a pound of bacon . . . the list doesn’t end there, but you get the idea. God, it makes me want to cry just thinking about it again. There were dirty pots and pans everywhere; I had obviously been cooking, and I COULDN’T REMEMBER DOING IT. I still don’t. I staggered upstairs in tears and into the bathroom, where I realized why I didn’t feel full: I had obviously been sick more than once. Whether it was self-induced purging, or my body rebelling, I have no idea. I spent the rest of that night on the floor in the bathroom, curled up in a ball, crying.

At that point, I finally realized that I was totally out of control. I tried OA, but it wasn’t for me (I’ll save the “why” for another day). I was at least well-read enough to know that it wasn’t food that was the problem; it was that I was using it to anesthetize myself against the rest of my life. So began the long road back. I started seeing a therapist, I started journaling, I started doing whatever I could think of to purge my emotional self of whatever demons I was carrying.

Now it’s 4 (?) years later. I’m a lot better, but still not finished. I haven’t binged like that night since then, but God knows I’ve had whole-bag-of-chips days, and not that long ago. (I had a half-bag-of-chips day the other night. Better than a whole bag, I guess. :P) I started this in the hope that I might keep it a little more reliably than I keep a journal, but that it would accomplish the same thing. We’ll see.


Carolyn said...

I enjoy your writing.

I am an ex-bulimic. Now I just eat everything in sight.

I've done the "I don't care" also "but I do."

You are very good at summing up the emotions that go with food issues.

Marste said...

Thanks! This is going to sound really naive, but I'm surprised anyone stumbled onto this yet! LOL

I had a chance to check out your blog; the most recent post was about "Mexicus" - really good stuff.

Carolyn said...

Thank you.

I was at the blogger page where they scroll recently updated blogs. The title of yours caught my eye and I clicked on it.

It's a great title.

There is a lady called Ms. L. who comments on my blog. She is super nice. She lives in Canada.

She maintains two blogs. One is called Those Weird Homeschoolers. The other one is called Stumbling Towards Health. That is her weight loss blog. I'm not sure how long she has been doing it, but she is slowly and surely taking off the pounds.

Somehow, through the powers of cyberspace, she has transferred them to me. LOL

Marste said...

Oh, cool. I will totally check out those blogs. I kind of dig the whole online thing. There's a whole support community that's somehow non-threatening because it's disconnected. Intimate anonymity, if you will. It helps a lot, though, you know?

Carolyn said...


I understand completely.