I used to watch people eat and wonder how they could just stop. How they could feel like they ever had enough, and how they could let it all just sit in their bodies when they were done. I watched in curious amazement, questioning how they were able to pull it off. And I sat in overwhelming self-hatred, questioning why I never could.
I couldn’t wrap my brain around how people seemed to simply feel ok. How they seemed to feel like enough. How they became full and stopped. How they didn’t feel like they had no other choice but to empty themselves of everything over and over again like I did.
Food stuffed my inadequacies down a few layers so that I could pretend to function. Without something heavier than my feelings, everything rushed to the surface and I was swallowed whole. My vat of shame bubbled underneath my skin and in the absence of something to numb it, I felt every second like I’d be eaten alive by my own body. I filled my emptiness one bite at a time, and with every bite, I disappeared a little more beneath it. I was safe in the depths of that valley. I couldn’t breathe, but that was better than feeling. Eventually, that internal suffocation became too much and I had to free myself.
The toilet was my reprieve. My sanctuary. The place that could handle all my filth. The place that rid me of me. In the bathroom is where I could come clean. It was the only place I felt safe because I knew that for at least a few moments, I’d have somewhere to put all my emptiness AND all my overflow. It was the only place that being both not enough and too much made any sense.
I surrendered myself in that space. I’d lean over and cleanse myself of all I carried in my body, and then I’d stand back up emptier than I started. The vile I saw in that porcelain death hole matched the vile my body encased; but in the next moment, I got to wash it all away. I got to begin again.
On my way out, the mirror would capture me; but only my body, never my eyes. As if I had no choice, I turned to the side to evaluate my worth, inevitably disgusted by the amount of space I filled. Always too much; never enough. I seldom looked myself in the eyes in those days. Not only because I couldn’t bear the image, but because the image couldn’t bear me. In order to soothe the intoxicating shame of everything I’d done, everything I’d become, and everything I believed I’d never become, I had to fill back up.
That process made sense to me. But watching what other people did? Having enough? Being enough? Letting it all sit? That process I could never comprehend.
So, I sat in solitary defilement, scorched inside my self-created hell, comforted by the flames. The noise of my thoughts was so loud I couldn’t hear. The fire of my feelings was so hot I couldn’t tame it. Food was the only thing that quieted those piercing internal screams and watching it exit my body was the only thing that eased the sharpness of my pain. I coated my shame in whatever I could find and I absolved my disgust in vomit. The rise and fall was a force too powerful for me to contain-like trying to hold back the ocean. Even an attempt at that effort would wash me away.