I know, this is a loaded title. I eat because I hate and I hate because I eat. And really, I wonder if I were just able to throw my fists and walk around with a switchblade ready to attack anyone who gets in my way, would I be less, I don’t know…emotional?
One thing I’m sure of is that I’ve always been an emotional eater (is there really any other kind excluding obesity?). Moments of my life are accented by what I ate. Mom and dad are separated. I visit my dad for the day and eat a bag of Deli potato chips. Mom takes me to Denny’s for breakfast (blueberry pancakes with whipped cream) while we live in the hotel nearby. I believe I’m an emotional eater because I wasn’t fat until kindergarten (see picture at left). I wasn’t born a fat kid. At some point there was a change and I gained weight rapidly. I tried losing it all at 9, but it didn’t happen for good until I hit 12. Then I lost even more.
My parents worked things out and got back together that year. We moved into a new house. And I had had it with the years of being taunted for my looks. I hit my breaking point and decided to join Jenny Craig. There began my mental problems with weight.
Once you lose weight you gain a lot of self-confidence. Or so you think. Looking back, I realized what I gained was really more attention and acceptance from others. For years people pointed out how great I looked just as they had once pointed out how fat I was. But inside nothing had changed. There were reasons why I overate that were never addressed. And so losing weight just gave me this beautiful exterior that covered up any ugliness inside.
I went to great lengths to keep my ugly covered. The more positive attention I got, the more I wanted. I watched my weight with the same diligence new parents watch their newborns. And a monster grew. Whenever I failed at something, whether it was sitting the bench during a basketball season or losing a high-school crush, I took it out on myself.
Eating and purging and dieting and exercising were all the tools I used to cope with my teenage feelings. After so many (relatively short) years of that I damaged my body so profoundly that by the time I graduated college, bulimia was not an option. Only binging was. Once binging wasn’t an option, a slew of other unhealthy things (which my best friend asked me not to reveal about myself; I’m prone to over-sharing, can you tell?) became my new comfort foods, especially during those first few years in the job force. And the real beauty of all my drastic efforts (in my mind) came from the fact that no one knew. I kept it covered up, which had become second nature for me and a source of pride. I binged in private, I purged in private. And only my family ever witnessed my clinical nervous breakdowns. But like any dirty addiction, signs of my emotional storm weren’t so inconspicuous to others.
This is the story of self-destruction. It is born from a desire to win over the crowd and its fuel is the failure to do just that. Everyone has their breaking points and their rock bottoms–some people make it and others do not. I’ve just always been too curious to know the who, what, why, where, when, and how–what makes a person tick–to give up trying to find out some answers about myself. I need to figure out how a desire to lose weight turned into years of self-destructive behavior. I don’t remember whether it was Sylvia Plath or Elizabeth Wurtzel who wrote, “The gun that should be pointed outward to the world, I aimed at myself,” (or something like that), but it’s the perfect sentiment. (Not that I really believe shooting anyone would have been any better.) In my quest for beautiful, I lost my sight. Whatever beautiful is or whatever beautiful means, I’m just trying to figure out what I’m looking at.