1. Your mother measuring out less than a cup’s worth of Cheerios (below 100 kcal) and then ultimately deciding to have a cup of watermelon (46 kcal) instead.
She decides to do this in front of your face immediately after you have declared a vow to eat above 2000 kcal a day while remaining sedentary.
You take off on a walk, packing the 3 pounds worth of caloric protein shakes that you hate, so that you can return them once and for all. You want to get away from her. You want to scream at her and raise hell. You want to gently slap her hand that clasps onto the measuring cup handle. You want to, but you leave instead.
2. Upon reaching your destination, or just about, you see your reflection in storefront windows just as dusk is setting in. Spider-veined legs that could be mistaken for wooden stilts had you not been only 5 feet and 4 inches, shine in the setting sun.
You flinch. You’re terrified of yourself. You turn back home, debating whether or not walking the few more feet to drop off the 3-pound load is less detrimental than lugging it all the way back. You decide on the latter, reevaluating how much you should eat for dinner after settling on something less than what you had planned before the first sighting.
And just when you thought you made up your mind, you become aggressively upset again, replaying over and over the image of Cheerios falling and then settling neatly below the 1-cup mark.
You go back to the original plan of eating a less calorically dense meal. You justify it by saying how you’re not fickle-minded. Instead, you stick to your word. Except the hyphenated word, calorie-consumption, preceded by 2000 and up. Confusion sets in. Now what? Another day in fear?
You remember the mantra you wrote in that new planner you bought and only today bothered to scribble in after deciding you would sit down during the day: You Do You.
You remember seeing a weight restored anorexic captioning her Instagram photo with the words, “Recovery never tasted so good.” You want to spite your mother so that while she suffers from lack of a tasty meal, you get to indulge in something delicious. In yo’ face, you think.
You want to go home now. You want to be by your mother’s side, in the safety of her God-given maternal instinct. You regret not agreeing to sit with her and pass the time by flipping through the newest J. Crew catalog, which you had planned on doing before her restricted dinner. But you know that immediately after the bonding experience, she is going to do her yoga.
“Life is complex,” is not just an understatement, it’s a lifestyle. It’s routine. It’s a cycle. It doesn’t end.
Complexities don’t end, but surely an eating disorder does. Either that, or your life comes to an end.
You’re frightened by this idea.
More than anything, you want to go home now. You want to rewind to actually sitting it out all day, to not have undone the little that was made in the way of progress.
You do you.
You do you.
You do you.
You keep telling yourself this as you make your way back home.
You do you.
You do you.
You do you.
You plan on heating up your dinner upon entering the house, but you’re still not sure what you’re going to eat.
You tried to distract yourself from walking incessantly by actually turning on the television this afternoon. But every time you try, something comes up: the television was not turning on.
You think back to your breakdown yesterday - your soliloquy, when you kept asking God why this was happening to you. You remember telling God that you never in a billion years expected this to happen to you. You reminded God of your daily excursions to temple, something you truly loved to do and did of your own accord for years. You asked God what you did to deserve this.
And just when you’re getting angry again, you remember breaking the pact you made to yourself yesterday- to limit walking and to eat even more, no matter what. After all, your mom got married. Your mom gave birth. Your mom has lived her life.
You’re home and you’re pissed. Sure enough, your mother is doing yoga while you go heat up a lentil stew with a side of cheese. All of this before your nightly 9 pounds’ worth of watermelon and snacks.
After the eating deed is done and waiting out the stomach pain before finally laying horizontally, you open up the pantry, feeling as though you could eat more when during the day, this isn’t the case.
You come face-to-face with your mother’s shelf, filled with the goods that she always loved and managed to eat without gaining an ounce: Devil Dogs, Junior Mints, and Godiva macaroons.
You see the new box of chocolate cupcakes that have the baseball mitt-design frosting, which she bought a couple of hours earlier, ripped open. You peek inside and see that two individually wrapped cupcakes are gone. She probably packed them to take for breakfast tomorrow morning, you think.
So you look in her undesignated lunchbag only to find a sweater and some paperwork. You then explore the inner canals of her purse without finding anything in the way of food aside from breath mints.
It dawns on you: she may have eaten the two cupcakes when you were out on your walk. So you look inside the garbage, throwing to the side all of your disposable plates and watermelon rinds.
Sure enough, you spot a cupcake wrapper. Unsure of yourself, you keep looking until you find the second missing wrapper.
“Food is fuel,” you think to yourself.
You realize you don’t know the whole story after all. You tortured yourself about her not eating as much as you, when in fact, that wasn’t the case.
It is the next morning. You talk to her bright and early, fearing she may go at it again with you. Instead, yesterday’s arguments seemed to have dissipated. She tells you she might buy bread to have with her butternut squash ravioli today. She tells you to buy a scale just for you, and doesn’t force you to stand in front of her. You think maybe she understands, or is at least trying to help. You’re on a walk while talking to her because well, you ate too much last night and you feel disgusting, but you want to enjoy breakfast when you go home. You hope the long walk will help.
It does - eventually. Or maybe it took you to eat more to finally relieve yourself.
Later in the day, she makes a comment about your weight. She decides to eat a cold cut sandwich instead of the pasta, but you don’t care. You think you don’t care. You do care, but not so much. You think this is progress, but it isn’t really. You try to avoid anything that may cause her to talk about your weight, but her grimace and comment - “oh my God” - weighs on your mind.