On Christmas Eve I woke up with the usual stomach impediments. I’ve been pursuing my recovery full on since I found out I still have almost 30 pounds to gain. Here’s a snapshot: A 9.5 pound watermelon, 200-calorie bar, and over 300-calorie handful of organic Maca maple (crack) cashews before sleeping.
On Christmas Eve, I made sure to get in some movement before anyone woke up, which was short lived. But I did not sit down, instead keeping on my feet for as long as I could. It’s a miserable existence, really. You secretly walk in circles, up and down the stairs, trying in earnest to stave off the uncomfortable feeling of fullness.
I ended up eating breakfast later than usual and kept according to my plan to take it light- almost as a way to undo yesterday’s calorie intake. I suppose my recovery is lacking here. That said, I got out of eating at the Italian restaurant my parents’ made reservations to because I would have to modify a dish three times’ over for it to come a little close to my liking. In the process, my parents would get frustrated, the waiter would likely be confused, and I’ll be dissatisfied regardless. That and I’ll be eating out at least four more times over the next week, so it was a compromise. Or maybe it was Christmas Eve and my parents did not want to participate in another argument.
Speaking of which, I felt my old self peeking through. I wanted to be around family. I wanted to take it slowly and live in the present. I crouched down, butt off the ground, uncomfortably full and constipated, to help wrap gifts by the tree with my mother.
I went to Whole Foods Market where I bought the higher calorie-muesli in cranberry cashew and a cup of pumpkin fig ancient grain cereal. I was pursuing recovery.
I had the opportunity to exercise at home, alone. I had already doused my hair and applied an avocado butter hair mask. I was set to stay home. The yoga mat occupied my mind as much as it did the top shelf in the closet.
I wasn’t going to perform yogic poses. I was going to do a set of mountain climbers, and a bit of core work. Nothing really, but something for me. Instead, I decided to go with them and packed up my low-calorie lunch that I wasn’t hungry for, and hardly walked around the crowded shops. My hair was dripping, droplets of avocado soaking my water resistant wool coat.
I found myself getting frustrated and walked up and down the staircase in the mall multiple times, feeling slightly off kilter, weak, and light-headed. It was the exact time that I met up with my parents who planned on not eating anything later that day.
The comparisons, were kept at bay though since I was in fear about feeling as crappy as I was. I thought my skin took on a shade of yellow. I ended up having a larger dinner than anticipated since I had “worked for it,” despite not being hungry. I was satisfied and full.
Then I got scared and ate an organic bar. Immediately the regret settled in.
I woke up this morning at the same time as my parents. My father is working out and my mother is starting to cook a chicken dish since my brother is arriving for a little over 24 hours.
Despite my belief in my indulgent overeating that is actually still less than what I should be eating, I pushed through, trying to have Reshmi reappear.
So I left low-calorie cookies on the counter that I clearly designated for Santa.
Still, I have been trying to avoid my mother so I can try and walk off that cursed bar.
I then asked her if I should cook breakfast for her and father, like I do every weekend. To my surprise, she replied no but I knew she had coffee already. And she doesn’t have coffee without a nibble on something.
I understood then: she ate one of the lower-calorie cookies that I left out for Santa. It may be 40-calories. The gesture of leaving a plate of cookies and cup of milk for St. Nicholas, was an attempt at reclaiming my old self- the old Reshmi who indulged in her dual Catholic-Sikh upbringing.
But she ruined it. My mother ruined it. Her breakfast was a 50-calorie cookie after no dinner. My father hasn’t eaten since yesterday afternoon and just lifted God knows how many hundred of pounds in weights for an hour.
Merry Christmas. My mood is off. I am pissed. I am full. I am walking in circles on the sly. The bottom of my feet ache. I have to make another visit to the podiatrist because my body went into survival mode again and developed painful callouses on the top left quadrant of my left foot to prevent my bone from directly hitting the ground.
Merry Christmas. I have to devise a plan on how to eat today to undo that bar and start over. I refuse to resume with plans to cook and consume a full-fledged black rice and salmon bowl or my organic chickpea-tomato Basil pasta dish that I had planned on eating.
I sabotaged myself with a desire to recover and I’m sabotaging myself with a desire to eat less than my active parents.
I hate that she’s not sitting down and is instead standing up and expending calories by chopping vegetables.
I hate that she caught me walking around in circles.
She asked me how I prepared the potatoes for a dish I made for her, my father, and brother.
“I don’t remember,” I just told her. I lied.
l could care less. I do remember. I hate that I am squandering my talent for cooking on everyone but myself.
Merry Christmas. Whatever little excitement I have for opening my presents is extinguished.
Most of the gifts are clothing and I feel as though my stomach is about to explode, rounded as it were in an uncomfortable bloat. I had no chance to perform my plank exercises to work my abdominal. I won’t be able to engage in these exercises until 2017 and that scares me.
Whatever small meringue peaks of Reshmi that were appearing, has immediately melted into a piling heap of liquid egg whites-
I’ll have to scoop those up and scramble it for my breakfast in a few hours.
Breakfast: I don’t think she is going to eat anything for breakfast. I don’t think my father will have breakfast. I know my brother never has breakfast.
I am going to have to eat breakfast and I hate it. I hate this. I hate that it’s beautiful outside and I cannot go on a long walk.
I hate that she just asked my father to ask my brother who he is picking up if he wants me to make handmade French Toast.
“But that is lunch. What’s breakfast?” I asked after eavesdropping.
“No,” my father said. “What your mom is preparing is lunch - and dinner.”
Great, so they’re going to have one meal.
“Concern yourself with you,” my mother said. “Just look at yourself.”
“You don’t know how much we ate yesterday,” my father said to my mom’s agreement.
“But that was yesterday. It’s been digested. And yesterday is yesterday, today is a new day. Isn’t that what you always tell me?”
Hot tears are streaming down my face. I am frustrated.
I want to walk into oblivion. I want to walk into nothingness.
“Forget it,” she said. I’ll just make eggs.
Hell no- hell no. I am going to cook that French toast and load it the hell up with all the calories that I have to consume. The batter will be eggs and vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I am going to sprinkle my pumpkin fig granola on top to make up for the lack of strawberries. I am going to douse that grill pan with copious amounts of butter.
I hate that she bought the bread from Whole Foods, suddenly piggybacking on my healthy eating philosophy. Still, the loaf serves 8 and for three people, the calories in the bread itself will equate to my bar and breakfast.
An even playing field is what I am after.
My dad left so it’s just a matter of navigating around her. She’s been on her feet nonstop as well- cooking and cleaning. I want her to stop. I want her to stop expending calories after not eating so that she works out more while I gain weight - which hasn’t been happening and yet it feels like I’m packing on the pounds. It’s getting closer to the time I have to eat.
The sun is shining outside and I wish I could absolve myself in its light on this holiday morning. I wish I could leave this house and let my freshly washed hair out and bask in God’s glory. I lost my faith, but there has to be a God.
Unfortunately my mother turned off the television so my footsteps and the creaking hardwood floors are revealing my endless walking. I’m stuck.
I’m stuck and I don’t know what to do. I could ask to go outside but I know she will take that opportunity to workout while I’m gone and I need to see it. I need to know that she is working out. I need to torture myself and I don’t know why.
I think she tried to make good this morning by asking me if I wanted to open up my presents. No, I will wait for my brother I answered.
Flashbacks of last year’s Christmas morning: it was the first year I was not at all excited to open up presents. I was in a foul mood and my mother reprimanded me for something. I remember glaring at her and hating everything.
And this year, it’s happening again.
When my brother arrives, I’ll have to eat. I’ll have to make their food, unidentified as being neither breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Actually, I’m pretty sure he’s not going to eat and they in turn, will tell me not to make the French Toast. In which case, they’re not going to eat at all.
She’s working out on an empty stomach now. I hate her. I hate her with every fiber of my being.
I do not want to eat breakfast. I do not want to open up presents. I don’t want to spend this week with her. I don’t want to celebrate.
I just want to walk out of this house and into another life. I can only hope that the phone will ring so she can’t workout. I did mentally prepare myself for her working out. I knew that it was too good to be true if she kept going on over a week without exercising.
Yet nothing prepares for you the present. The here and now.
“8:52 right now on this Christmas morning,” I hear the newscaster in the background say just as my mother confronts me with my walking around and says, “Kill yourself.”
8:52 - my birth time. I was born at 8:52 pm in June, three weeks past my due date.
Is this a sign that I am in peril? Is God trying to tell me something? Am I deserved of such sacred attention? Is this just a coincidence?
When I began writing this, it was entitled something different. It was meant to have an altogether festive tone and a positive vibe. But this is real life and in real time, I am telling you what transpires and why recovery is so difficult- why this illness has the highest mortality rate or of all the related illnesses.
And that scares me. But does it scare me enough to eat more and move less?
My skin doesn’t seem yellow anymore.
I think my eyes were deceiving me yesterday.
My feet seem like pillows instead of aching and bruised skin over protruding bones.
I could walk on forever.