High school is really where all the insecurities become wildfires, crackling and shattering every teenager’s insides.
Everyone in my friend group decided they weren’t skinny enough, and started going on some pretty serious diets. Lunch turned into a competition on how little they could eat and a conversation about how much they would exercises and what they chose to no longer eat.
Now, this is coming from a bunch of girls who were not only skinny, but fit too. The person who really affected me the most though, was Layla. She lost all her baby fat and was one of the most gorgeous girls on campus. Boys loved her, and yet…she didn’t think she was good enough. How could I possibly think I was good enough if I was nothing compared to her? I don’t blame Layla and didn’t blame her then. I made my own decisions, but these thoughts are what led me to my actions.
Long before this diet fad happened, an unbidden thought would always claw at the threads of my mind whenever I was with these girls.
“I’m the fattest one here.”
This thought came every day, and it only got worse when my beautiful skinny friends decided they weren’t skinny enough. Mind you, these are the girls who always get the guys. Who went on a million dates and got sweet kisses from handsome boys.
I’m twenty one and still haven’t been kissed.
So around this time my friends, decided they were ugly and fat was the same time my only male friend thus far ignored my very presence. And the year I wasn’t asked to any school dances.
My messed up, anxiety-ridden, hormone flaring teenage brain concluded I was doing something wrong. Despite the fact I had sworn off sweets for an entire year and had been successful so far, and that I had been running and increasing distance every day, I wasn’t losing any weight.
So I stopped eating.
Dad took me to school in the early mornings. Mom was asleep, and I usually ate breakfast when Dad was back in his room. Skipping breakfast was easy.
I had a small sandwich at school because I didn’t want my friends to be aware of my inner turmoil, but as I reflect on this terrible decision, the better thing to do would have been to eat dinner.
I continued to run… Since I ate heartily my whole life, I never knew what hunger pains felt like. I also didn’t know how they felt on top of expending a bunch of energy either. I cried every time I ran because of my aching stomach. Yet, I had a mantra to keep me moving, to keep my legs pumping even though I had no energy but my own muscle mass to expend.
“I’m not hungry. I’m too fat. I’m too fat.”
24/7 this mantra filled my thoughts.
And guess what.
I didn’t lose any weight.
Turns out some people bloat when they don’t intake enough nutrients. My body retained water as much as it could because I didn’t limit myself on how much water I drank. With bloating and water weight, I didn’t lose anything. Not even inches.
Clearly, I was never meant to be beautiful.
This was the first time thoughts of suicide entered my mind.
When I thought of disappearing before, it was thoughts of running away and starting a life where no one knew me…I didn’t want to die.
Even when these thoughts came I didn’t want to die. Yet, I couldn’t imagine God would want me to live in such pain every day. The pain of being invisible. The pain of not being good enough. The pain of not being smart enough.
Again, I didn’t want to die and I managed to send these thoughts away. Mainly because the thoughts scared me. I’ve always been told suicide is the ultimate form of selfishness…and I believe it still…but what really turned me away from it—at this point anyways—were my dreams for the future. Surely, life wouldn’t be as awful as it is in high school.
My parents around this time bought me this stupid expensive watch that would track your exercise with GPS and what not (this is way before fitbits and the Apple Watch).
I used it once.
And hated it.
Mom stopped me one day and asked me why I wasn’t using my watch. I broke down and told her how the watch just proved how fat I was. How I wasn’t exercising well enough or eating healthy enough. It was the very evidence I would never look the way I wanted to.
My poor mother started crying whilst explaining how beautiful I was. How much I was worth.
I didn’t believe her. In fact, to this day I still don’t believe the compliments my family gives me (I’m working on this, and I’ve improved tons. I can now entertain the idea that maybe, just maybe, there is some truth to what they say—I know they think what they say is true, but as to whether I believe it’s actually is true is what I’m learning to accept).
Family has to tell you things you want to hear. A true family member won’t degrade you by telling you you’re fat or stupid. So these comments, these compliments and heartfelt truths coming from my family held no merit in my head.
Because no one outside my family saw the things they did. My only male friend left me, and I lost significant chunk in my ability to be noticed by my intelligence, and no guy wanted to ask me to a school dance.
Mom began to notice I wasn’t eating dinner, how when I “did” I only ate a bite or two.
I am so grateful for my mother, but I did hate her when she called me out on it. How she kept telling me I was beautiful and didn’t need to starve myself to get people to notice me. I told her she didn’t understand because she was such a babe and got all the boys when she was my age.
Yet, it broke my heart when she started crying. When she told me I broke her trust.
Man that hurt more than my hunger pains.
It hurt, but I still wasn’t convinced to stop.
Only when she told me how if I continued I wouldn’t be able to have children did she break through my tornado thoughts. So I did some research. Male or female, when suffering from anorexia nervosa and allow it to get out of hand will become infertile. When we stop providing our bodies with nutrients, our body starts to each away at our fat stores, then our muscles, and eventually our organs until we eventually die. If we don’t feed our body, our body starts eating itself.
Mom made me chart the food I ate. I had to sign it off and turn it into her every night.
I hated it.
She also started inviting family members over for dinner every night so unless I wanted my whole extended family to know I was anorexic, I had to eat.
Man, mothers know way too well how their kids work.
Although I started eating again, I still wasn’t okay with my body. I’m not sure I ever will be, but I am happy with who I am. And if people can’t see past my body, then they are missing out on the amazing, beautiful person on the inside.
Always and Forever,
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