So let me set the scene for you. After a long day of paper work and menstruating, I stop by the local Little Ceasar’s and invest in a “hot n ready” pepperoni pizza. Gluttonously, I ask the girl at the window if they have Dr Pepper. (gluttonous, because I’ve already had two 32 oz Dr. Peppers today and also, notice how she’s at a window because I drove 5 miles out of my way to go to the Little Ceasar’s with a drive thru.) Alas, “We only have pepsi products” sent me home with an empty space in my heart where a dr pepper would have been.
Upon arriving home, I present the pizza to my husband who insists on making home-made full-fat ranch for me since we had conveniently just run out of the nasty “lite” ranch he had bought at a discount months prior. We sit down on separate couches making sure we have room to spread out after indulging in our cheesy wonder bread. We flip on the most recent episode of Parks and Recreation and just completely veg out for the next 22 minutes. After proudly stopping myself at 3 slices, I prove my love to my husband by offering him the last slice. He eats that and moves on to butter a slice of pumpkin bread. After he starts in on yet another James Bond movie (the guy is obsessed) I heave my body out of the imprint I have surely made in the couch by now, and make my way into the bathroom for a soak.
A couple weeks ago, I bought some bath salts because it’s hard work sitting in an office chair for 8 hours every day… Funny story about these bath salts, I didn’t realize they had menthol in them. Needless to say, my sensitive bits weren’t prepared for the minty freshness they encountered. After swearing it off for good, being the wishy-washy person that I am, I just had to try it one more time to make sure I really didn’t like it. I made sure to run the water extra hot and added the salts with a lighter hand. The results were magical. Loose muscles and soft skin are all that emerged from that bath. I swear. Not too bad for $3.94.
I added the remainder of said magic salts to my bath and began the soaking-while-viewing-all-social-media process. I somehow managed to wander into the fitness realm on instagram. (Actually, I was looking at Kourtney Kardashian’s account because she’s the smallest, meanest person in the world that likes legos, when my hand slipped and I accidentally clicked on some fitness guru) This girl had lost 55 lbs in 1 year. Usually, I just scroll past these images while guiltlessly shoving “just one more” cookie in my face, but this girl gave me pause. I looked at her before pictures and I saw myself. I was captivated. I have seen before and after pictures before, but this girl seemed different. For some reason, she seemed more real to me. She rocked a sports bra and booty shorts in most of her pictures and looking at how slim and trim her waist is and how defined and stunning her jaw line and cheek bones are just made my heart hurt. I was so amazed that a person who looked like me, could turn themselves into someone that looked like they box jumped their way out of a fitness magazine. I can’t stress enough that my desire is not to be “cut & toned in 30 days” or “Sassy & skinny for the new year” I don’t even want to be “The new you!” I just want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling like I’m going to pass out. I want to be able to fit into the clothes at forever 21. I want to be able to make the hike up “A mountain” (or A** hole mountain as I like to call it because of a terrible hiking experience last Spring. A story for another time.) I want to be able to do all the things that normal 23 year-olds are supposed to be doing. I no longer want to be held down by the crippling fear that my eating habits are going to cause me to fall dead from a heart attack in the middle of fourth meal at Taco Bell.
While stalking her posts, I found one that said, “What you eat in private eventually is what you wear in public.” While its wording is awkward, the general message in this photo really hit home for me. I don’t know why this particular photo resonated so deeply with me on this particular day, but it really picked at an emotional scab; a deep wound that I tore open that night.
I reposted the picture on instagram (and didn’t even give credit to this girl that lost 55 lbs in 1 year) and talked about how I’ve had issues with the way I’ve looked since 4th grade. I finally admitted to someone other than myself and 3 other people that I have an eating disorder. I was finally able to see that stuffing myself to the point of misery was just as bad as starving myself. I always wished I could make myself vomit so that I could purge after binging. I spent nights curled up over the toilet trying desperately to gag myself so that I could alleviate some of the pressure in my stomach; shoving a tooth brush as far down my throat as I could to attempt to elicit some sort of upheaval. I always only ended up with watery eyes and a sore throat. I can count on 1 hand the number of times I have thrown up since I was eight years old. In fact, if I have told you that I have thrown up, chances are, I really just had the runs. Another confession, I have IBS. I find it embarrassing. I mean, really. Who wants to say, “Sorry, Shelby. I actually can’t go to the mall with you today. I’m too busy spewing hot lava from my butt hole.” That went too far and I know it did. But, public service announcement, Irritable Bowl Syndrome is a real thing that people have and can we please just stop being weird about poop so that I can maintain some sense of dignity while leaving the bathroom after an excruciating ten minutes?
Back to my point. This hit me like a baseball bat to the groin. Repeatedly. Like on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Clip after clip. I reviewed all the times I had smuggled a bag of Arby’s into my room at my grandparent’s house; all the times I stopped at McDonalds on the way home from work just to get a powerade, but ended up with 3 double cheeseburgers and a large fry. As I was thinking about this, I remembered the event that I had scheduled in my iphone for tomorrow: “Big Bad Taco Bell Binge” I mean, at least there’s alliteration, right?
As I was getting out of the bath, my poor husband tried to open the bathroom door (that doesn’t lock) I freaked out at him like I would have when I was a teenager. “BABE! I’m IN here. DON’T come IN!” (Capitalization added for emphasis.) He apologized and shut the door. But the shame that I felt in that moment was so powerful that I didn’t want to be seen or talked to. I didn’t even want to exist. Of course this launched a full blown panic attack complete with palpitations and paranoia. I finally admitted to myself and to my husband that I can no longer do it. I can’t do the one thing that you are supposed to be able to do as an adult. I can’t feed myself.
After I was all cried out, I rolled over and attempted to fall asleep as my husband watched yet another youtuber explain key points of the last Bond movie he watched. I found myself getting more and more irritated both by the sound of said youtuber wafting out of the head phones and the persistent sound of my husband’s breathing that seemed to be getting louder and more pronounced by the minute. I knew that it was just a mood, because can I really justify being angry at my husband for breathing? So I made my way out to the living room and started typing away. 2000 words later and I’m sure I have bored you all to death, but I needed to write this out. I needed to allow myself to externally process my emotions and figure out what is real and worth worrying about and what is fabricated in my silly mind. (ie, Before writing this, I had to pull up Web MD because my fingernails were blue and I was positive that my hyperventilating had somehow caused my airway to constrict thus resulting in less blood flow to my extremities which in turn would make my fingertips fall off. Web MD neither confirmed nor denied my suspicions, however it did leave me with the distinct impression that I will probably contract cancer in the next 12 hours. Don’t worry. My nails are fine. After googling it, I remembered that I have this thing called Raynad’s Phenominon which you only know you have if you’re a hypochondriac and go to the doctor for everything. Which luckily, I am. It doesn’t cause any problems. It’s literally just a reaction to stress where the body restricts blood flow to the extremities and redirects it to the vital organs to, you know, keep you alive. Mine just shows up by turning my fingers blue. Harmless, and kind of a neat party trick.) I’m finally ready to go to sleep with the promise of a better tomorrow and the start to a healthier life.