*Pictured: An associate’s vacant desk space at ABC Carpets & Home in NYC.
My mother caught me power-walking around my house, which I denied. She said, in her most sarcastic and evil voice: “yeah, work it out girl.”
The day before I had apologized for losing my temper - rightfully so - the night before. We exchanged ugly words for the hundredth time. Of course, there is no exchange of “sorry,” because she can do no wrong. Are mothers always correct? Humans aren’t perfect. Is she human? She’s certainly not a goddess. Is it too outlandish to suggest demonic as an adjective?
I apologized by text. This time, I followed up the apology with a quasi-explanation that was partially my way of hinting that I was not sorry. Rather, I wasn’t so much apologizing to her as I was to me. I’m sorry to myself for having tarnished my upstanding character, for falling prey to external pulses, for acting out of impulse, for not showing self-restraint, for not exhibiting will power.
Then again, recovering from anorexia means no longer restricting and no longer holding back. It means that I let go of that will power to consume less and exercise more.
I’m a full grown ass adult, I feel like telling her. But that doesn’t sound like me. That’s not me.
I’m a woman. I’m proud to be a woman, and I would neither say “full grown,” because that is grammatically incorrect, nor would I say ass because it is incredibly unpolished. So instead I text her, “I know I live at home, but you have to understand. I’m a woman, mom. I’m 27-years-old. You have to stop criticizing me for everything.”
I think she understood, but she did not reply to the text. At least, she read it this time. I checked her cell messages when entering in directions in the GPS. I then skimmed past another text message thread - one between her and her colleague who always buy each other breakfast or lunch.
They constantly discuss how they need to lose weight, and I know for a fact that my mother does not need to shed pounds. She’s at a normal if not less than normal weight for her height, age, and activity level. Her appetite is well-balanced, intuitive, and voracious.
It’s so odd to me that having grown up underneath her influence, I had never adapted the 3 meals-a-day-lifestyle. I always threw away the lunch she packed me in high school and came home ravenous. I was still healthy then, however, never thinking twice about eating a samosa or two in one sitting, enjoying the fried exterior shell more than the cumin-seed spiked mashed potato and pea interior.
On the text message exchange between her and her colleague, whenever the latter asked if she wanted a muffin or roll, my mom always opted for the roll because I suppose the plainness and lesser amount of calories amounted to a healthier choice. She always opted for a McDonald’s English Muffin breakfast sandwich as well, which she may have for lunch, because she and I can look up the calories online and see that it comes in at around 280-300 calories only. Her colleague asked if she wanted pancakes instead, and my mom replied with “the pancakes probably have more calories,” or a no-go to he pancakes. I just looked up the calories for pancakes, and sure enough, it is higher in calorie by about 50.
Am I gossiping? Now I am because I am telling you all of this, but I was sneaking as I read this text exchange, my fury growing with each passing moment.
I have come to accept, rationally, that I have to eat more - a lot more. Those in recovery usually leave the cooking to someone else. They usually supplement with high calorie drinks and food if they don’t eat enough. And if they refuse supplementing, a feeding tube is the next step.
I love the “supplement” I have chosen: an all-natural organic bar with superfoods, high protein, and requisite high calorie. I love the taste, the texture, and the healthy composition of ingredients that make it up. What I don’t love is the feeling of gluttony that overcomes me after having eaten this; that feeling of consuming over 300 more calories.
Yesterday, without an appetite and feeling full, my mother suggested with her antiquated logic that I eat rice with an egg on top. I say antiquated because she thinks rice will automatically put on weight. I eat black rice which is higher in calorie than the white basmati rice she cooks, but also packs a ton more antioxidants and vitamins. It’s fiber content is sky-high, such that the grains pass right through my bowels and float on the surface of toilet water.
I asked my dietitian if I had undone all the work of eating since the rice passed through. She quelled my anxiety and assured me that all the energy was stored in my body before it passed through.
Prior to anorexia, I wasn’t privy to calorie counts. If I had those Whole Foods Market-bought bars in my house growing up, I would likely have eaten more than one in a single sitting because it tastes that good, and I would have done so without reluctance, repulsion, or regret. I would have enjoyed it and dwelled in my good fortune at having those pricey treats in my possession.
At the same time, I was incredibly active. I danced for hours, took long leisurely walks, had a rigorous physical education program throughout my high school years. In my summers home from college I either had a gym
Membership or went on long hikes and exercised at home.
I can’t remember if I had eaten to the point of indulgence as a result of restricting throughout the day, or because I felt that my level of activity compensated for my intake.
Gossip girl, here - My mother asked me to make her French Toast this morning with the leftover batter I made yesterday, only this time with her low-calorie sliced bread. I cooked it up with love and served it. Immediately after she declared possibly not eating later and having to work out - all because of breakfast. Now if she’s only “allowed” to eat and enjoy when she exercises, then why do my treatment team and as my father says, “the only people who care about me” - him, my mother, and my brother tell me that food is not meant to be worked off? Why do they partake in hypocrisy and tell me that food is fuel and not to be compensated or enjoyed only when and if a workout is planned?
Here’s some gossip:
Those who care are those who preach.
Those who can, do; Those who can’t, teach.