So. This is a poem that I’ve always wanted to share but been too afraid to. But this article written by Foz Meadows about Female Bodies and the strange, contrary messages we constantly send to girls and women has made me pensive. I really recommend you read it. If you grow up fat, if you grow up thin – you still hear the messages. They can still hurt.
I had an eating disorder when I was a teen. It was pretty severe. I have been recovered for years, but to some extent, disordered thinking around food is always going to be with me. Even if I don’t act on it anymore, inside in some ways I am still anorexic. Actually, even saying I’ve been recovered for years is a a lie – I had a brief slipup with bulimia a few months ago, though I am okay now.
As with most types of mental illness, there’s a stigma around it. But here’s a poem I wrote about what it was like for me to deal with anorexia. I have teen readers, and adult readers. I’m sure some have dealt with this, too. Male and female – everyone deals with the messages society puts on us about weight, health, and beauty. I was lucky – I had a great support network and still do. I recognise what can be dangerous for me and listen to myself and my body. There are lots of ways to get help. If you suffer from this – reach out. People will understand. People will help. You are not alone.
Trigger warnings, I suppose. I also have a picture of me at a low weight at the end.
Running on Empty
What are you doing? You can’t eat
that. How can you still let it slip
between your lips and teeth and down your throat? “I
can solve it with two fingers,” you say. Hide
the evidence in a porcelain bowl. What do you have to lose?
You’re only running on empty.
You’re full of contradictions. “When empty,
I feel full.” Horseshit. Eat
your words. Are they filling? Lose
your body, lose yourself and slip
into size two or zero. Maybe, just maybe, if you hide,
you won’t have to look anyone in the eye.
Look in the mirror. Hold one hand over your eye,
squint. Tap a rhythm against your clavicle. Hold one hand over an empty
stomach. Use the other to play the xylophone of ribs. Hunch and hide,
but glance behind you to see the scapula wings. Don’t eat
that. Have grapes or carrots instead. Don’t slip.
Where else do you have to lose?
Step on the scale. Try not to cry. You think you must lose
at least a couple more pounds. “If I only did, then I
would be thin enough. Just two more pounds.” Slip
down the slippery slope and empty
yourself again. Reasoning: in another 45 minutes you can eat
miso soup and turkey slices. Count calories to hide
what you don’t want to think about. Hide
memories. Hide fears. Hide worries. Just lose
a bit more. A tiny bit more. You can eat
after 45 minutes of cardio. Eyes
droop, muscles tremor. You’re still running on empty.
After awhile it’s only inevitable that you slip.
Standing there in the kitchen in only your slip,
you guzzle soda, shovel mac and cheese, inhale cookies and hide
from guilt, fear, anxiety, the empti-
ness. Perhaps, if you eat enough, you’ll lose
that feeling. Fill up the square hole with something round. “I
know, I know, ” you say. “I can’t have my cake and eat
it, too.” Eat, don’t eat. Slip further, slip
down, close eyes red from broken blood vessels and hide
deeper within as you lose a little more just to stay empty.