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You Want a Social Life, With Friends. (And an apology.)

29 Nov

Hi. Hello. I am here, and I am going to write something.

Before I do, I thought it right for me to apologize for an issue that has been needling me for quite some time now. No, I’m not going to apologize for my six month absence. I might kind of try to explain it though, so hold your horses.

My apology has to do with some things that I’ve written in past posts about fat bodies. In one post, about that terrible wedding I was in, I implied that the kind of awful bride was unattractive because she is fat. I later went on to snidely describe her second husband as “probably weighing 600 lbs”., which again, was my attempt at negating the fact that she found love and marriage for a second time. “Yeah, another person wanted to marry her, but just look at him.” I was saying that without saying it. Probably because I was/am a coward.

In another post, the name and content of which I can’t recall and am both too jittery and lazy to search for, I claimed that proof of my self-love was the fact that I don’t weigh 300 lbs.

I am sorry for writing those things. They are examples of the hatred of fat bodies – including my own – that I’ve internalized from a variety  of sources. I am working at ridding myself of that hate. Tumblr has been a priceless resource in my learning that fat bodies have value, are deserving of love, are beautiful, and can tell us nothing about a person’s health, abilities, or self-esteem.

Surprisingly, no one called me out on the things that I wrote. But maybe someone read my hateful words and was hurt. I couldn’t let that possibility stand without acknowledging how sorry I am, how much I am trying and want to change, and that I am asking for forgiveness. Please forgive me.

I’m leaving those posts up as they are (considering I can’t even find one of them, ugh) and hope that my future pieces will demonstrate my growth and sensitivity since writing them.

Thank you for sticking around as I grow.


 

You Want a Social Life, With Friends

You want a social life, with friends.

A passionate love life and as well

To work hard every day. What’s true

Is of these three you may have two

And two can pay you dividends

But never may have three.

 

There isn’t time enough, my friends-

Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends-

To find the time to have love, work, and friends.

Michelangelo had feeling

For Vittoria and the Ceiling

But did he go to parties at day’s end?

Homer nightly went to banquets

Wrote all day but had no lockets

Bright with pictures of his Girl.

 

I know one who loves and parties

And has done so since his thirties

But writes hardly anything at all.

-by Kenneth Koch

 

I never thought I’d be the type of person to have a favorite poem. I just didn’t think poetry was for me, wasn’t sure that I liked it all that much, the work of Langston Hughes and Shel Silverstein being notable exceptions. And then a few years ago I read Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s 2005 memoir Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life.

In it she mentions that Kenneth Koch’s You Want a Social life, With Friends is her favorite poem and told a funny story about meeting its author. I read it over and over again, and the next time I was at work, I made a too-dark photocopy and hung it on my fridge.

You Want a Social Life, With Friends resonated with me. I was someone who was chronically lonely, felt confused and like a failure when it came to her career. I was absolutely convinced that “everybody else” had managed to master having fulfilling work, romantic love, and meaningful friendships. I did take solace in Koch’s assertion that “What’s true is of these three you may have two and two can pay you dividends but never may have three.” So, all I had to do – like the Disney villain I am deep in my cold, dark heart – was sit back and wait for my friends and acquaintances to suffer some loss, of a lover, of a job, of friends, because no one can have it all; look, I have proof!

I didn’t really want anyone I knew and liked to lose anything. But I desperately wanted all three for myself, and the poem was a reminder that life is full of sacrifice and compromise and comes without guarantee. Of anything. I remember feeling a chill of foreboding each time I read it after first finding it. I’d find some way to have all three, dammit! I’d beat the odds!

Now, here I am, 35 years old, feeling as lonely as ever; feeling as unfulfilled at work as I hoped to never be.

Part of me believes that there is still hope. That if I can maybe put myself on a writing schedule, something will come of my questionable talent. My current job may even allow me to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in professional writing for cheap or free. The work piece could potentially, someday come together. Maybe.

As far as love and friends? My hope meter is running on empty. Over the summer I did things that made me think “This. This is the moment when the pendulum swung to the other side with such force that I don’t think I’ll be able to move it back.” I let people borrow money, I stopped wearing contacts, and I went on a solo vacation. These events signaled to me that I was barreling towards spinsterhood at a frightening speed.

The money thing was a mistake. I should have known better. I’ve watched enough “Judge Judy” to know that owed money will destroy relationships despite one’s best efforts. Not only have I stopped asking for the money, I’ve stopped communicating with the people who benefited from my foolishness. I don’t think that they’ve noticed. And to be fair, I was – I am – seething under the surface, trying to hide my resentment, my disappointment, how used I feel. I didn’t tell them about my feelings. I didn’t hound them for the cash.

“It’s not fair,” I thought. “They have families and lovers and close friendships and now my money.” I was in communication with them until September, when the people in question suddenly stopped their correspondence. I hoped that I’d hear from them on or around my birthday; they owed me at least that much. I heard nothing. The idea of initiating contact with them makes my heart pound, my gut churn, my hands tremble. The realization that I lent the money with so many invisible strings attached makes me feel ashamed.

How is this a sign of my spinsterhood? I’m like the rich old aunt that never married, who eats store-brand canned soup and has to make it home in time to watch “Jeopardy!”. No one comes around until holiday time, because they know Auntie gives the best gifts, the poor sucker. “I mean, she’s got nobody, hardly any expenses. What does she need all that money for anyway? I’ll send her a card.” The card never comes. I open another can of chicken and rice and set up the TV tray in the living room. Alex Trebek always was a handsome man.

So that’s two friends I’ll never hear from again, or am doomed to have awkward, sporadic contact with when they feel like paying Auntie a pity visit.

The contacts thing and the vacation thing happened simultaneously. I planned a last minute, somewhat haphazardly planned vacation to St. Lucia. I’d never been out of the country alone before and I knew that if I waited until someone could go with me, I’d never travel. I spent five lonely days at a luxury spa. The island was beautiful, the weather lovely, the people damn nice. My tour guide hit on me; it was really uncomfortable, especially considering he did it after telling me that Tyler Perry movies send necessary messages of ‘warning’ to those wacky black women that want to be independent and self-sufficient and in charge.

I met two nice English ladies old enough to be my mother, one also named Ambrosia. We chatted a bit and shared one night of cocktails and a meal together, then spent the rest of the time awkwardly waving to each other across the resort. I was seated at the communal table for other solo travelers on some other night and had an Asian-fusion four course meal with a lady elementary school principal from Canada. It was both better and worse than it sounds.

There was a young, fat, attractive American girl I hoped to befriend. She was alone, was wearing a fatkini, kept her nose in a book. The fact that she made bold fashion choices and liked to read had me sold. She never noticed my smiles, which in all the sunlight and happiness surrounding me may have made it look like I had a bad case of indigestion. I was too chicken to go over and say hello.

On my second day there, I realized that I’d left my contact lens case somewhere in America. I’d recently purchased new, large, bold frames, but have always felt ugly in glasses. I can’t see without either contacts or glasses, so I had no choice. I had to feel ugly for four days in paradise.

I never bothered to renew my lens prescription. I’ve been wearing my trendy glasses full-time since August. On one had, with my nose ring and natural hair, I’m at times convinced that I look okay. Like maybe I know people that live in Brooklyn or smoke weed out of decorative glass pipes or am vegan.

But then other times I’ll catch my reflection in some shiny surface when I’m off guard or try to take a selfie and the person I see looking back at me is a sexless nerd, who read in her hotel room in a foreign, tropical country; who got suckered into lending substantial amounts of money in the hopes that somebody would love her best; who sat and watched other people dance on the last night of her vacation, wearing her ill-fitting glasses while a stray cat took pity on her and kept her company.

I don’t really like that person so much.

She reeks of desperation. Her bug-eyed stare screams “I want a social life, with friends! A passionate love life, and to work hard every day!” I wonder which one of us screams the loudest.

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Death and taxes.

22 Apr

“Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

-Benjamin Franklin

There was a time when men were kind. And their voices were soft. And their words inviting. There was a time when the doctor prescribed Adderall. And the world was a song. And the song was exciting (as were most things when one is on Adderall). There was a time. Then it all went wrong.

I have felt this way on the inside for a good. . . two thirty years or so. If only I could feel that thin on the inside too. I mean, the inside is where it counts, right? Source

Okay, okay, so I’m mad late with the whole “Les Miserables” movie craze – Was it a craze? I mean, I saw the movie three times, twice in the theater; saw the show once on Broadway; watched the 25th anniversary concert probably 10 times or so, and regularly sing the soundtrack in the shower, but “craze” is a strong word. – but haven’t we all felt like a starving, hairless, toothless, altogether desperate, 19th century French prostitute dying of consumption?

It can’t be just me. I can’t be the only one who thinks that “I Dreamed a Dream” accurately sums up all my internal, narcissistic misery. I thought that God would be forgiving! I was once young and unafraid! Some dick took my childhood in his stride. . .  when  I was 20. Tigers probably do come at night, which is why I don’t ever want to go to a jungle or to a poorly supervised overnight at a zoo! And life has officially killed every motherfucking dream I’ve dreamed. Also, can we all agree that yes, Anne Hathaway is very talented, but still REALLY easy to hate just because. . .  everything? Okay, great, thanks.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

So like the responsible adult I am, I went and had my taxes done. I’ve gone to the same woman for a few years except for the Turbo Tax Conundrum of ’08. I like her. She’s competent and knowledgeable and chatty and personable. It’s never a surprise to me that a great deal of my appointment is spent looking at pictures of her grandkids or exchanging recipes. She’s just that kind of person. On this visit, I must have made a comment about my weight and how it’s gross, a bad habit I’ve been using as a crutch when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while. I  haven’t been quite this big in a few years, so I always try to jump the gun by saying something along the lines of “Hi ______! Great to see you! How’s things? Oh, that’s wonderful! Oh, me? Well, I gained a ton of weight, and I’m still single and childless! And get this, I’ve been living with my parents since September! Can you believe it?!? Can you?!? CAN YOU?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!” It’s important to me that people know that I know what the hell I look like and that I am wholly aware that I probably didn’t look this way the last time I saw them. If they’re going to talk about me behind my back, it’s not going to be about how delusional or deep in denial I am. Well, not about my physical appearance anyway.

I made some comment about my weight and how I was going to start working out again and blah-blah-blah-I’m fat-blah-blah-blah, and then she mentions that she lost 38 pounds two years ago and everything was going great; she was on Weight Watchers and walking miles a day and then her daughter was killed in a car accident and she gained back 45 pounds and now she wants to die. She gasped “I hate myself!”, put her face in her hands and started to cry. I was flabbergasted, as she told me all of this pretty much exactly as I’ve written it here. I started to cry too. I probably shouldn’t mention this as I’m pretty sure that most of my readers are people who know me in real life and I don’t want anyone freaking out or being weird with me, but mention it I shall: I cried because of the obvious pain she was in from losing her child, of course. I also cried because it made me think of my own parents and how hurt they’d be if I decided to end it all, which is something I’ve kept in my back pocket as an option for years now. It’s my escape plan. I was going to do it if nothing improved by the time I hit 25, then I pushed it off to 30, and now I’ve realized that suicide is SUPER inconvenient for me for a ton of reasons not limited to my commitment to “Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta”, but I’ve got a 35-37 age range floating around in my twisted brain as a just-in-case. But seeing somebody’s parent weep in the middle of an H&R Block over the death of their child made me replace her face with my mom’s and I felt awful. I reached for her hand and held it for a while. She apologized; I asked her what for. She showed me pictures of her dead daughter’s child and husband and offered me some Pirate’s Booty. I declined.

After the appointment, I thought a lot about what had transpired between us. She shared quite a lot with me; her son-in-law is remarrying in a few months and she doesn’t know how she’s going to make it through the wedding. Her husband has never been more loving or thoughtful or romantic, even though she’s fat (her words); she’s going on her first vacation in years to see her best friend and they’ll spend every day on the beach. Because I am a narcissist, I thought a lot about myself too. I thought about the fact that if I died, that would be it for my parents. There would be nobody left. Neither of them have siblings; as I’ve mentioned over and over and over again, I have no children or husband. I was so sad for them. I wept, blasting Maxwell’s “Lifetime”, my go to “My life is OVAH!” song, through my car stereo as I drove around town, mourning my own death that hasn’t happened yet. And then I got angry.

I was angry that I couldn’t ever kill myself without causing irrevocable damage to my parents. I was angry that my only escape from a life plagued by depression and crippling loneliness was no longer, was never an option. I was angry that I’d let myself get fat and cut my hair, making me invisible and undateable. I was angry that my parents couldn’t have had just one other kid so all of this pressure to make them happy didn’t fall on my shoulders. I was angry that the nice H&R Block lady with the dead daughter hated her body, because I was pretty damn sure that mine was bigger than hers, and if hers makes her hate herself, what must she feel when she looks at me? I was angry that I was angry at the nice H&R Block lady with the dead daughter. I was angry that Maxwell won’t ever finish his blacksummer’snight trilogy. I was angry that I will always be alone and there isn’t any escaping it.

I went to the gym after driving around and crying. I’d made an appointment with a personal trainer because I’m serious about trying to make my body smaller and hopefully, healthier, and wanted to get going right away. When I got there, a disheveled, trembling man with long, greasy hair introduced himself as the man who’d be “training” me that day. He seemed familiar to me, but it wasn’t until I left that I realized who he made me think of:

I met Uncle Rico. He has not aged well and knows very little about weight training. Source.

The experience was pretty terrible. Uncle Rico wouldn’t make eye contact with me and I started to think he wasn’t physically capable, and I felt terrible that I was annoyed by what may have been outside of his control. He kept telling me that I had “great form” whilst he looked in the opposite direction as I pretended to use what was essentially an Ab Roller. Eventually, I told him that I was pretty sure I could figure out the rest of the equipment myself and that I’d like to do some cardio. I thanked him for his “help”, shook his hand, and sprinted to the nearest treadmill.

I hadn’t paid any attention to which treadmill I picked. I was overcome with anxiety and just wanted to get away from the weight area and the stares of the South American men in street clothes lounging on the benches. It took me a few moments to realize that I’d chosen a treadmill directly in front of a mirror. I stared at myself as I attempted to walk/jog for the first time in probably two years, and I didn’t like what I saw. I was the heaviest person in the gym. I was the only person there alone, except for maybe Uncle Rico, but he worked there. All around me were families, couples, and friends, yelling over the noise of the machines in Spanish and Portuguese while I huffed and puffed alone. Between the heartbreaking experience of filing my taxes and the seemingly futile exercise of. . .  exercise, I lost it. I cried as I walk/jogged for 20 minutes in the middle of a downtown YMCA. It was probably the only time I’ve been thankful to be fat and out of shape; I was sweating so much from my forehead that it was impossible to tell that I was weeping. The expression on my face is always that miserable.

I went home and soaked in an Epsom salt bath because I read on some skinny idiot’s blog that it’s supposed to pull all of the toxins out of my body that are making me fat and depressed. I avoided my parents because I was still angry at them for keeping me alive against my will and for not being able to give me the baby brother or bitch older sister of my dreams. I spent the rest of the night lurking on Instagram and Tumblr, making myself feel absolutely worse as I watched the evidence of the greatness of the lives of everyone else scroll by.

I will go back to H&R Block next year. I will go back to the nice lady with the dead daughter. I will try to remember to not mention my body, though I hope that next year’s version of Ambrosia will be streamlined and pocket-sized and I won’t have to. I hope that the nice lady will find happiness and peace by this time next year, even if her grief is still sitting in the back of her throat just waiting to be let out. As for me, I guess I’d like to find happiness and peace too. And a different escape plan.

I can see why I’m single, too.

11 Feb

Hey. So, life’s been rough. At least the one that I live in my head. All I want to do is eat cookies and play The Sims and sleep, so I’m probably a tid-bit depressed, hence my lack of posts to this here blog. I shaved my armpits AND am updating my semi-abandoned blog today; that’s probably the most I’ve done since Christmas.

Anyweiner, I have a month left on that gotdang Match.com and I just discovered that a muscular, well-dressed, silky dark chocolate colored black man just wrote me a nice message. If you know me even a little bit well, you’ll know that I promptly farted on that guy’s hopes and dreams (and my mother’s) and blew him off. He’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO not my type. But I did so in a way that was unflinchingly honest and that amused me, so I figured that I’d post it here in lieu of any new content while I get myself together. Please to enjoy, and thanks for hanging in there with me:

Re: Robot

Hahahaha! Hey! You’re certainly not the only one to robot (I’m using it as a verb) in public. It’s fun and awesome.

So M____, I’m a little surprised to see that you wrote to me. I am no vegan and to be perfectly frank, find the idea of veganism exhausting and ridiculous. I grew up in the Pentecostal church, but I chose to walk away a few years ago. I like booze. I don’t drink a lot, but I drink. I haven’t purposefully exercised in probably more than a year. I’m fat; fat is just an adjective to me, so I’m not being “one of those girls” in saying that I’m fat. Basically, I’m a fat, meat-eating, booze-drinking, agnostic-ish, far left-leaning, nose ring-wearing, would-rather-watch-TV-than-do-a-distressingly-long-list-of-things kinda chick who realizes that she dresses a lot of the time like a hipster lesbian and is okay with that.

I say all of that to explain why I don’t think we’d be a good romantic match. I would roll my eyes way too often at your food choices and Bible scripture quotes. You seem like a nice dude with a lot going for him. You’ll find someone. You’re probably dating some nice lady right now that you’re not sure about. I bet you she’s great. Give her a chance! And if she isn’t, you’re a muscular black man; you won’t be alone for long.

Thanks for your email. It made my day to meet another robot aficionado.

Take care,
Ambrosia

Yeah. So in case it’s not clear, I can’t with this fine fellow because:

  • He’s a VEGAN.
  • He might be a Mormon.
  • He’s most likely a Born-Again/Evangelical Christian.
  • He has on a bow-tie in one of his profile pictures.
  • He quotes the Bible repeatedly in his profile.
  • He’s looking for a woman who’s into “eating healthy and exercise”.
  • HE’S A VEGAN.
  • He was like, super shiny in his pictures. But in a fancy way. Like, he probably searches the Interwebs for Kanye West’s skin care regimen so he can get tips on taking his look to the next level and typing that has made me want to punch everything in the vulva.

 

Le sigh. I’m totally going to have a commitment ceremony with a rescue dog, aren’t I?

 

Jennifer’s body.

2 Sep

Things would be far simpler if this post was actually about “Jennifer’s Body”. Source

*August 13, 2017: (very brief) AUTHOR’S NOTE AT END OF POST)

I’m going to need to ask David Sedaris and Sloane Crosley if they still have friends.

I’ve been getting a bit of backlash about le blog; specifically, certain people weren’t thrilled with their portrayal in past posts. I will make it up to them by baring my soul in today’s entry*. Like, really putting it out there. Talking about things I hope I rarely do, laying private things out on the line, inspiring Jennifer Lawrence’s people to file a restraining order against me.

Yes, I love Jennifer Lawrence. Much like Annie Cresta did to Finnick Odair, Jen crept up on me. I first saw her in the film “Winter’s Bone” for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Even though I fell asleep in the middle, I was pretty impressed by her portrayal of Ree Dolly, the main character. However, the book was way better, of course; she didn’t win the Oscar, and I quickly forgot all about her. Then came The Hunger Games.

For the last six years, I have been employed by either a bookstore, a library, or both. There isn’t a book trend that escapes my notice. So I was familiar with Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, but didn’t pay it much attention. It takes me a while to embrace certain pop culture trends, books being one area that I am particularly stubborn about.  I scoffed at the Harry Potter series for years before I finally gave in. I won’t touch anything Twilight related with a ten-foot pole, unless that pole is also on fire. The only thing Fifty Shades of Gray can do for me is provide me with more than fifty ways to wipe my ass with its pages. So when The Hunger Games became a thing, I responded by rolling my eyes and picking anything else to read.

Because I pride myself on being a pretentious blowhard, my assumption is that things that most people – especially your average, everyday people – like are probably terrible. People in general are stupid. Why would I want to read something that everybody thinks is great? I choose things to read based on recommendations from trusted friends; judging books by their covers; and searching out the books and authors that writers I respect enjoy. Oh, and whatever NPR tells me to read. That way, I can brag by saying “I first became aware of ____________ when I heard it mentioned on All Things Considered. Michele Norris says it’s a must read.” Man, am I one high sadity bitch or what?

Anyway, one of those trusted friends asked if I had read The Hunger Games. In response, my eyes glazed over and I said “What? Is that the book about anorexia or something? We can’t keep it on the shelves, but no, haven’t read it. Don’t know if it’s my thing.” She grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. “You have to read this book” she spit as she slapped me across the face. Okay, that didn’t actually happen, but wouldn’t it have been awesome if she had? “Read it and we’ll go to see the movie at the end of the week.” It was an order I had no reason to refuse.

Amazingly, the book was available at the library where I’m currently employed. I checked it out and started to read it on my dinner break. I read it at my desk while pretending to work. I read it while the students I supervise quietly went about their closing duties. I read it as they stood over me, holding their time cards, waiting for me to wake from my HG-induced haze so they could leave. Basically, I was hooked and finished it that night. And yes, I cried. Hysterically and often.

That weekend my trustworthy friend and I went to the movie. “I know her!” I gasped the first time Jennifer Lawrence came on screen. “She’s the girl who got nominated for an Oscar for this movie about hillbillies! And now she’s doing another movie about hillbillies, sorta! I like her!” I said between bites of popcorn. “Shut up!” hissed my friend. I was practically swooning as I soaked in every moment of Jen’s portrayal of Katniss. She brought that girl to life. She became grumpy, depressed, determined, confused, kick-ass Katniss Everdeen. I cried for and with her. I shrieked and laughed and cheered and just made a fool of myself in the dark, crowded theater. I walked in a normal woman over thirty hooked on a YA series and left a woman obsessed.

Jennifer Lawrence is the girl I want to be and if I can’t be her, I want to be her best friend. I will settle for living vicariously through Zoe Kravitz. . . for now. She’s funny and down to Earth. She makes self-depreciating jokes that are adorkable and quirky and don’t come across as secret cries for help. She likes to look good but isn’t a total jerk about it. She still hangs out with her parents and brothers and boyfriend and does it all while wearing mismatched pajamas and exhibiting appropriate emotions upon receiving major news. She helps black ladies wearing booty shorts who suddenly faint on the sidewalk. She plays basketball and forgets to shave her armpits. I have a major fangirl crush on her. I’d donate an organ to this chick. Speaking of bodies, I want her body. I’d also settle for having her adorable face.

Let’s ignore the many psychological and sociological issues involved in my apparent desire to look like a white, blond-haired, blue-grayish-greenish-eyed woman 11 years my junior. This isn’t that kind of blog, i.e., I’ll objectify and idolize who I want, dammit! The real issue, the secret that I referenced above, is that there was a time that I did have Jennifer’s body (See! Don’t underestimate me, kid.).

I was 16 or 17 years old and dating yet another mean boy. I can’t wait for the day that I can write about a guy I dated who wasn’t awful to me. Yeesh. Anyway, this guy was short and skinny. I was all of 140-lbs. and a size 8 at 5’5. I felt like a beast. My weight had been an issue my whole life, but it took years for me to realize that my weight wasn’t actually an issue at all. My parents (maybe just my mom) had certain ideas about what kids were supposed to look like and I guess I didn’t fit the image in their mind’s eye. To make matters even more sucktastic, I started developing very early. Boobs and Aunt Flo appeared while I was still in elementary school. By high school, I was spindly arms and legs, crazy cheek bones that could have cut glass, huge boobs, huge butt, and a soft tummy. To my distorted, adolescent mind I might as well have been morbidly obese.

It didn’t help that my “boyfriend” at the time was a shrimp and a jerk. I towered over him and probably outweighed him. He commented on my body whenever he could, never calling me fat outright, but would suggest that I looked fat in certain clothes or ate too much or too often. It never dawned on me that he was insecure about his height and chicken chest and was doing whatever he could to make me feel as bad as he did because I was an idiot. I cried a lot, eventually dumped him when I found out he was regularly sexing the girl who’d fixed us up that I thought was my friend, and went on a mission to recreate my gigantic body into one that would leave him begging me to take him back.

It started innocently at first. I’d go on walks with friends or do a “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” tape and a bunch of crunches, followed by a trip to Taco Bell. It quickly turned into something rather ugly, I guess. I say “I guess” because even knowing what I know now about what I did, I miss the control and willpower I was able to exude back then. I also say “I guess” because it’s embarrassing and awkward as a person who’s been different variations of fat for the last 13 years to reminisce about how I was once very thin. People always want photographic evidence; you show them the pictures and they either say “Oh, you weren’t that thin!” or “You looked so good back then!” or “You looked awful!” or “I prefer you with weight on you” and it all sounds like horrible lies and the awful truth. It may only be embarrassing to me, but I have heard “What happened to you?” more times than I’d like to admit. I haven’t heard that lately, but those four words replay in my ears whenever I’m faced with seeing someone I haven’t seen in ages who knew me when. And I don’t have a kid I can shove in their faces and blame for my additional girth, so I know that they know that I just got “lazy” or “depressed”. Parents, hug your children! You may be fat, but you have a runny-nosed, loud-mouthed, obnoxious, toothless, short person who demands things to blame for your flabby body! I just have me.

I can’t really recall the moment that things got ugly. My exercise routine must not have given me the results I hoped for and I wanted a boost. Not sure if the diet pills or the laxatives came first, but I can remember the fear and excitement I felt as I bought them and sneaked them into my bedroom. Then I decided that as it was fat I was trying to lose from my body, fat was the thing that I needed to lose from my diet. I allowed myself 0-10 grams of fat per day, with “cheating” allowed on Saturdays. Meat was all fat, so that had to go without question. My diet mainly consisted of rice cakes and baby carrots. Those were my favorite things to eat, as they came in bags, making them convenient to carry with me, and both things were fat-free. I’d bring full bags of each to school with me and subsist on those alone – oh and candy, as long as it was fat-free – and a bottle of water for the entire day. The diet pills killed my appetite and gave me energy so I could accomplish my two to four hours of exercise a day. The laxatives let me shit away what I did eat since I allowed myself unlimited quantities of food as long as it was fat-free. Though I tried several times, I never could get the hang of self-induced vomiting, so the laxatives were a godsend.

My cheat meals on Saturdays weren’t very much fun at all. I’m sure the combination of my restrictive diet and laxative use was destroying my stomach. I couldn’t enjoy the one food I looked forward to indulging in each weekend – french fries – without excruciating stomach pain afterwards. Instead of curbing my weight-loss efforts, this unwelcome side-affect only encouraged me to report that I was “allergic to/unable to digest fat”, self-diagnosed, of course! I became more focused than ever.

One of my favorite examples of how insane I became is the following story: I was out for a run with a friend. My workout clothes were hanging off me. My friend was struggling to keep up as I had the artificially produced energy of a meth head. We jogged in place, at my insistence of course, as we waited for it to be safe to cross the street. I don’t know where the car came from; we had both looked and waited until we thought it was clear. My friend made it safely across while I made it up onto the hood of  an old Saab driven by a terrified man. In case I described that too poetically for you, I was hit by a freaking car. He hit me with enough force that I was thrown up on to his hood, hit his windshield, and rolled off into the street. I jumped up, elbows and knees skinned, forehead bruised, and stared at the driver, stunned. He took one look at me and since I was upright and had my eyes open, decided to speed off. My friend was screaming in terror and pulled me out of the road. “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, are you alright??” he screamed. “You just got hit by a car!!” I quickly snapped out of my daze – thanks, amphetamines! – and started to jog in place again. “Yeah, I’m fine! We need to get back on our run! Burn that fat! Let’s go! Please don’t tell my parents what happened!”

I was so thin. I didn’t feel very thin because the scale wouldn’t budge below 124.5-lbs., which to me was still a too large number, but I was thin. My graduation dress was a size 3 in Juniors; I’m sure I cried with delight when it fit. My mom and I had never been closer. We finally looked just alike! A beautiful, majestic doe and her fawn. We shopped like an upcoming ban on women’s wear had just been announced. People stopped me on the street to ask if I was a model and when they learned that I wasn’t, to demand that I start a career right. That. Minute! Men and boys professed their love with a frequency that made my head spin. Girls hated my guts. One especially jealous bitch angrily told my friend that no matter how thin the rest of me got, I’d always have a fat ass. I wanted to thank her, as what she thought was a dig actually meant that I’d achieved Black America’s Dream, but he wasn’t supposed to tell, so I never got to rub her face in my skinny body and bodacious buttocks.

All good things must come to an end. College ushered in my eventual defeat. At first, things were awesome. I continued my ridiculous eating habits, the boys on campus declared me the hottest thing since. . . I don’t know, the sun? The sun’s super hot. Since I was a total prude and didn’t drink, I didn’t gain the dreaded Freshman Fifteen. But I wasn’t happy. I was incredibly lonely. Loneliness turned out to be the only thing I got to keep from my visit to The Land of Incredibly Thin Pretty Girls. I hated my roommate. I was convinced I was going to catch a disease from her and her nasty boyfriend. Sex particles travel through the air and that’s how you get STDs, right? I knew better; I’d gotten at least a B in science, but I had this incredible anxiety that I was going to become diseased from living with her that I couldn’t shake. My runs weren’t fun anymore. Creepy men thought it was funny to chase me. Working out in the gym on campus was out of the question as guys would show up with chips and soda, pull up a seat and watch me on the Stairmaster. Lucky for me the bouncers at the local nightclub took pity on me and let me in even though I wasn’t yet 18. Clubbing Thursday through Saturday became crucial as dancing was how I got my exercise. If guys wanted to stare or even grope, fine, just as long as I could burn fat on the dance floor.

Fall came in with a rush of freezing, bitter cold wind. Between my gross roommate and the rapidly dropping temperature, I was certain that I was dying. I dressed in layers and became more vigilant about food. I didn’t eat more nutritiously, well, not on purpose anyway. I decided that I would allow myself to eat anything that I wanted, absolutely ANYTHING once a day- as long as I could make it fit on a coffee saucer. It couldn’t hang off. Dry English muffins and hard boiled eggs became a favorite. Dark beverages were out; I could only consume liquids that I could see through. Most of the time, my day’s calories came from 2-liter bottles of Sprite or 7-Up and fruit or plain baked potatoes from the campus cafe. I went to my pediatrician and told him that I was afraid I had contracted Mono from my roommate. I was Mono free, but the good doctor was worried about my weight: 118-lbs. in two shirts, a sweater, jeans, a belt, platform high-heeled loafers (Shut it, it was the 90s) and undergarments. I don’t know why he didn’t have me undress. He wanted to know if I was eating. Of course I was! I just didn’t digest fat very well, so my eating options were limited. He took my answer as gospel, I suppose, as I don’t recall anything more happening from his initial concern.

Eventually I paid a visit to the school psychologist. I don’t know what caused me to finally become concerned for myself. My friends’ worries fell on deaf ears. I’d signed up for a campus fashion show and in the space where we were to write down our sizes, I put ‘Women’s 5/6’. The coordinator of the show, a fabulous and outspoken gay man, took one look at my form and shouted “Pppfffssshht! Put her in the 2s!” They did, and they fit. I reminded my friends who were shocked to see what size I’d become as I came down the runway that the 2s didn’t really fit; they were a bit tight on my stomach. A true size 2 wouldn’t have red marks on her belly after wearing pants. They shook their heads in defeat and I invited them back to my dorm room for Sprite and oranges.

The school psychologist told me that I was beautiful, and certainly thin, but girls with eating disorders were emaciated and I was not, and that meant that I was okay! In a rare moment of clarity, I shook my head and stammered “But I have. . . trouble eating. And I’m always cold. I think there might be something wrong with me.” Was I puking? Nope. Had I eaten that day? Yup. “You have a beautiful body! You’re fine. You’re just experiencing first-year stress.” That was two doctors that didn’t think anything was a big deal and one of them had basically said that I was fat, so I went on my way and changed nothing.

As suddenly as my transformation had begun, it was over. I met a girl who recognized the disordered eating behaviors I exhibited and reached out to me in friendship and concern. She tried to teach me how to eat again. Her efforts were short lived as I noticed that I was starting to gain weight using her methods. I met my first white boyfriend who had no time for my food nonsense and wanted a girl who would eat, so I made my best efforts during our relationship. The whole mess was started by a boy’s opinion of me and ended for the same reason. I was back up to 124.5-lbs., then 130-lbs., then 135-lbs., and before I knew it, I was 140-145-lbs. again. But the damage had already been done.

I had tasted thinness and it was delicious. No matter how I tried, though, I couldn’t make my body do what it had done for those glorious 2 years. Diet pills and laxatives didn’t seem to have any affect on me anymore. Eventually, the good ones were taken off the market. My weight would eventually soar and drop, climb and fall for the rest of my adult life. 140-lbs. is a long ago dream. And I never did learn how to eat. Food is like a stranger that I see everywhere but have no idea how to interact with. I’m either ignoring it or food’s taking out an order of protection against me. “Officer, she ate my entire family. She even ate the children! Keep her away from me! Her appetite is insatiable!”

So, that’s my secret. I may or may not have had and continue to struggle with disordered eating. You’ll notice I’ve never used the term “eating disorder”. Can’t do it. Doesn’t feel real. Mostly because two doctors and two parents and lots of other adults didn’t see a problem. They told me I was beautiful and that only white emaciated girls struggle with anorexia and bulimia. They were the experts; I’m sure they knew what was best.

Jennifer Lawrence gets flack about her beautiful body. Dumb idiots think she looks “fat” on screen. She gives those douche hounds the bird and keeps it moving. I’m fascinated and amazed by her ability to eat regular food, – no “clean eating” or vegetarianism or binging or starving has been reported about her. . . yet –  whenever and whatever she wants, and still be slender and beautiful. I don’t know. I guess that’s not my particular lot in life. But my eyes have seen the glory, even if it was for just a brief moment in time! I wish I’d bothered to wear a bikini back then. Dammit.

Well, those I’ve written about and upset, I hope this makes us even. I shined a bright light on a part of my life I’d have rather kept hidden away. I hope you’ll forgive me for inadvertently hurting your feelings in previous posts. But whatever you do, don’t ask me to see those pictures. If you thought what I wrote before was bad. . .

*I want to apologize in advance if anything I wrote was triggering or offensive to anyone who has had or currently struggles with an ED. Though I am uncomfortable labeling myself as someone who has an ED or is in recovery from one, especially because I was never diagnosed and continue to have major struggles with food, weight, and body image, I empathize with and understand your struggle. It is not my intention to purposely cause hurt or make light of a debilitating disease that has robbed so many of so much; I’m more comfortable making light of my own struggles than speaking about them seriously, yet realize the seriousness of the struggle of others.

*August 13, 2017: Who… who was I in 2012?? I don’t know. I no longer feel this way about Jennifer Lawrence. What the- my god.