Shedding Skin

December 19, 2012 § 143 Comments

It’s hard to believe, in the state I am now, that there was ever a time when I was happy with myself.

You see, I’ve never been thin—I’ve always, always been the fat girl, and though no one ever said anything, I could tell.  I could tell when all my friends went clothes shopping without me, when no one asked me to homecoming, when my horse riding instructor praised the other girls and told me to work harder.  Logic, of course, tells me: it was because I was fat.  I lived with seething hatred of this body for years, but only recently did this hatred manifest itself.

At 175 pounds and 5’5”, I was, less than a year ago, just beginning to fall into the pit.  One night I dragged a shaving razor across my thigh and watched as the bad feelings poured out.  I put a bandage on it and swore to never touch a blade again.  But the next night I did it again and soon there was an arsenal in my bedside drawer and red zebra stripes covering my hips and wrists.

It was around this time, too, that I decided I needed to rid myself of my second skin.  I was huge, fatter than fat, disgusting, a whale.  At first I tried something called intermittent fasting, which involved fasting for 24 hours at least 2 times a week.  The other days I was allowed to eat normally.  The idea was that it would cut calories effortlessly, while the pattern of fasting would rev up my metabolism.

While intermittent fasting is a legitimate method for losing weight, I couldn’t imagine that my parents would approve of me refusing food 2-3 days out of the week.  Thus to complete my fasts, I began coming up with all manner of crazy ways to hide that I was not eating.  I woke up early to avoid my parents’ prying eyes as I had my breakfast of green tea.  When they got suspicious, I crumbled bits of toast onto a plate and left it out on the counter before hiding the uneaten evidence in the trash.  I made excuses to my friends at lunch time and hoarded sandwiches in my room until I could eat them again, though soon I began throwing out the whole brown bag.  Later on, I mastered the art of spitting my food into a napkin, and once chewed and spit two whole slices of toast, unnoticed and without swallowing a bite, right in front of my father.

As the pounds began to drop off, I became more obsessed, restricting even on my non-fasting days.  By spring I was eating 300-600 calories a day and beating my ass on the treadmill to make up for mistakes.  At 150 pounds, people began to notice.  “Oh, you look like you’ve lost weight!” they’d say happily, never suspecting something could be wrong.  My friends all paid more attention to me.  When I asked a boy to prom, he happily accepted.  And my riding instructor couldn’t stop telling me how much better I looked (skinnier girls look more elegant on horses).  I got nothing but positive feedback and I was over the moon.  After all, for someone as fat as I was, losing weight could only be a good thing.  But I still wasn’t skinny enough. No, not even close.

By summer I was falling victim to binges, and my self-hatred grew even more vehement.  As much as I jammed my fingers down my throat, I could not bring my mistakes back up.  After nearly slitting my throat one night, I finally told my mother that her daughter sliced up her skin.  I didn’t tell her that I wanted to die, nor that my nightmares consisted of fat-laden food that I could not stop eating.  No, I told her about the cutting, and she was kind and supportive and everything a mother should be.  And so I stopped cutting.  I found peace and I stopped starving.  With the pressure of senior year gone, something shifted and I was, for that blessed three-month period, happy.  At least I think I was.

And here I am now, in college—an art major, no less—with dreams of becoming a medical illustrator.  After moving into the dorms, it didn’t take long for the blades to make their way back into my drawer.  My weight has settled at 145; though this is the lowest I’ve ever been and is considered a “healthy weight,” I cannot be satisfied with it.  With every bite I put in my mouth, I can feel myself losing control.  There is too much here for me to handle, and I need the comfort of starvation again.  It’s disgusting, I know, and it’s wrong and no one—none of you—should ever think this way, but I’ve been eating less and less these past few weeks and making excuses again and I can feel the cold fingers of these thoughts wrap themselves around me, pulling me back into the arms of hunger.

This goes beyond wanting to be skinny.  I have pegged food as the enemy, you see, and I am finding that I can only feel sane when I do not eat.  I am strong when I starve.  I am powerful, I am in control.  I can feel yesterday’s mistakes and poisons clearing out of this disgusting body and soon, soon I will be clean and pure.

Call me insane.  But I will be thin.  I’ll be thin if it’s the last thing I do.

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§ 143 Responses to Shedding Skin

  • I was very traumatized by how people treated me when I’ve gained 28 lbs (which I’ve dropped eventually). Some comments were so mean that I think they will stay in my memory forever.
    I feel exactly they way you do about food and your eating habits. I always portion and measure my food; some people call me obsessive… I don’t care. If that’s what it takes then be it.
    I’d rather be obsessive and thin than care-free and overweight.

  • You are clearly an intelligent, insightful, introspective person. Self-injury can be an addictive release which deceptively suggests control over painful emotional issues which does not exist. I cannot tell anyone how to live their life, but I would encourage you to seek therapy/counseling to help marshall your strengths as you struggle to deal with your very human weaknesses (which we all share). Be well and strong – you are stronger than you realize.

  • Ana says:

    I don’t think there is a woman that cannot relate to what you are going through. We never seem to be slender enough, fit enough, attractive enough. The pressure that others put on us is tripled with the pressure that we have learned to put on ourselves. We always feel that we need to be different from what we are in order to be good enough. But this is not true. We, all of us are good enough – now. Regardless of our weight, body shape and fitness.
    I cannot like this post because of what you are doing to yourself. I do like your courage and awareness, and I know that you will be strong and smart enough to realise that you are enough.

  • reapbyfaith says:

    I pray your self image separates from your body image. Sometimes I don’t like my body, but I try not to let that sink in to affect my self image of who I am on the inside. Who you are should not be defined by what you look like. Bless You:)

  • There are great people, especially on college campuses, that can help you with your thoughts. I know you have to be ready and willing to seek help, but please know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You may not want to get better right now, but imagine your a life where these thoughts don’t control you.

  • ibushrabaqer says:

    deciding to lose weight is one thing, & deciding to lose yourself is another. .
    there is a very thin line between them which you may have already crossed. however, it’s never too late to get back on your feet.
    you may think that you’ll be much happier and satisfied with yourself if you lost more weight “your way”, people may accept you but you’ll never be able to accept yourself.
    you have only one chance to live your life, you can either live a healthy-happy life, or just pretend to have one.
    it’s a tough call, but it will be worth every bit of it if you made the right decision. .
    xo

    • paxgirl says:

      Ibushrabaqer, excellent advice! Blogger, if you take nothing else to heart today, I hope you really internalize the above comment. Good luck, and good vibes~

  • smilecalm says:

    Wishing you a peaceful moment with a calm breath and open sky.

  • Really brave of you to put this out there. Most people don’t want to admit that they cut because they know that other’s might label them “crazy,” but it really is a stress-reliever for people (someone close to me is still a cutter to this day, and her arms and thighs bear witness). As someone above mentioned, school campuses have lots of counselors-which you don’t have to pay anything!-willing to lend an ear and help you out. You can get through these bad thoughts! :)

  • As someone who has lived a lifelong battle with weight and has never been the “skinny pretty girl”, and has finally been able to lose some weight and feel good, one paradigm shift to me was “deeming food your friend, not your enemy”. I’ve learnt that when I crave, this doesnt mean I’m hungry. I learnt to choose right, to pay attantion to what goes into my body.

    Make it a fun ride, enjoy every moment because it is what you make of it.

    Good luck! xx

  • [...] Shedding Skin: Ah, yes, I too know the problems of shedding my skin. But don’t worry, I know somebody who can help! [...]

  • missmin says:

    How are things going for you today? You really are incredibly brave to chronicle your journey like this and I’m sure that as you go along, you’ll be helping others to face their issues and look for ways to overcome them. Don’t blame yourself entirely for your pain and difficulties; we live in a ridiculous society where youth and thinness (and large breasts!) are supposed to be the pathetic goals we women aim for. And you know what? It prevents us from being our true selves…from being the strong, empowered wonderful people we truly are. There’s actually no correlation between thinness (or youth, or breast size) and successful living. I have two daughters…one ethereal and thin…one a beautiful boticelli angel with softness and curves. They’re both my shining lights. My botticelli girl has the most wonderful relationship with a young man I can’t speak highly enough of. She has just completed her IT training, top of her class and was offered her dream job before she even finished college. She plays roller derby, where most of the players are ‘well covered’…more so than you, judging by the figures you give for your weight and height. She’s been incredibly empowered by this bevy of strong women around her. I know I’m waffling…but I’m concerned about you. You were born unique and you have a unique purpose in this world. All what counts is what’s on the inside of you. The outside is all illusion. I know your journey will be difficult and perhaps protracted…but you can do it. If you have the strength to write something so personal in this blog, then you are strong indeed. Love and light.

  • dreamlandgirl says:

    It took me a long time to realize I needed to talk to someone about my problems. Documenting your struggles here might be a release, but try to talk to a counsellor. They will have a clear, objective view of your situation and the proper resources to help you.

    Keep your head up! You sound like someone with smarts, who can overcome this obstacle!

  • Thank you for being honest and open with the world. I havent done some of the things you have, but i have most certainly thought about it. I wish the pressure would leave to look a certain way.

  • I wouldn’t call you insane. Not at all. Friend of mine (a bloke, though) used to cut when trying to loose weight, and he too said “I will be slim, no matter what !”. Girl, loosing WEIGHT is not what you are really after. You are after the lean hard body, the image of an attractive woman provided to us by media 24/7. But look, we ALL have those lean hard bodies. We ALL have those six-packs. They are there. Some of us just can’t see theirs because their are hidden underneath a layer of fat. It is FAT, that should be the enemy, not food or weight. You see, loosing WEIGHT won’t get you there. You might get skinny, in fact very skinny, like that friend of mine did, but he wasn’t happy. Oh no ! There were still those soft bits on his body that just wouldn’t go away, no matter how skinny he would get. So, he kept cutting. Deep down, skinny as he could be, he just simply wasn’t happy with himself – cutting continued. We all thought he was OK, after all, he managed to loose the weight. Oh, how little did we know. You see, today, as far as I know, and I hope I’m right, well we do check him for scars every now, and then and there aren’t any fresh ones, so I trust him, he doesn’t cut anymore. Saying that, it doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t get his bit of pain. You see when we talked, I suggested that instead of ruining his body through scars, he could try a different way of punishment – hardcore workouts. But when I say hardcore, I mean hardcore. He works out so hard it’s INSANE ! He also fights a different enemy – he fights his FAT ! You see when we talked, it was obvious that telling him something like “you need to stop cutting !” or “you need to eat !” would just not work. He would just find a way how to hide it. So we kind of changed the instruments of his pain. He doesn’t need to hide it either, working out as hard as he does is in fact something that people started respecting him for. He also understood that to be able to work out that hard he needs to fuel the body so he eats. He has no problem with that though, he burns it all off during his sessions of hardcore craziness. As for the body ? Lean and hard, six-pack showing, he will never stop though :-) So, my suggestion would be, as others have mentioned here before, go and find a friend at the campus, but find one who works out, and ask him/her for a few tips on a hardcore workout, but something so hardcore even they would be afraid to do it. Then give it a go, you never know. I would not be trying to get skinny for whatever the cost, I would try to get lean & hard. Working out so hard, that even a couple of days after the workout, with every step, the sore muscles would keep reminding you of all the fat you have burnt off. Most of all though, keep your head up, girl. You will find a way to overcome this obstacle !

  • becabassi says:

    Thanks for your candid blog on a topic that must be so personal to you. I congratulate you on your ability to recognise your ED. I just hope you are able to take this honesty outside of this forum and express it to those who are equipped with the tools and programs that can best support your return to a healthy relationship with your weight and eating habits.

  • mathairfiona says:

    Hey there! I have a story VERY similar to yours. Replace the cutting with burning and we have traveled a very similar path. I have been “in recovery” for many years now, but many of those thoughts continue to be part of my life. I had great success with counseling and friendship. Reach out…your life is worth living fully. Love and light to you.

  • mytchiemitch says:

    i used to be skinny, but not by choice. i was poor and we didn’t have enough to eat. i used to get picked on for being skinny by the fat girls in school. in fact, i only ever got picked on by fat girls. i guess they hated me for being skinny. if they only knew that i’d have given anything for more weight back then! please give me your fat, i thought, but sadly, no. that didn’t happen. we never really stopped being poor but i did start gaining weight in my late teens after i moved to Florida. i got there and everyone was like, “wow, you could be a model,” as if being skinny were a choice i made and i wanted to be a model. i just wanted to be normal, and not skinny as a bag of bones, so i gorged on hot pockets and sat around doing nothing but watching tv in air conditioning and voila, the fat girl in me emerged. then, as per usual, i started hating my gut and my huge butt and the battle with weight began. i just wanted to be normal again, not fat, not skinny, NORMAL! so i dieted and starved myself and gorged myself and whatever other yo-yo nonsense i could think of. long story short, i’m 5’6″ today and 155 lbs. am i completely happy with my body? eh…. will i ever be? eh…. i never had the courage (if that’s what you’d call it) to cut myself or make myself puke or any of the other things associated with eating disorders but i can identify entirely with your post. i have nothing to say to keep you from hurting yourself other than i don’t want you to and i don’t even know you. i can’t offer advice or words of wisdom but i will follow your blog in order to know how you are doing and i will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. i hope you find your happy place, and that one day when you look in the mirror, you see yourself as you really are, and if your words are an example of who you are, i bet you’re absolutely beautiful.

  • mindfulmandy says:

    You remind me so much of myself my first year of college. The things I did to myself following the place you are in right now were horrific. I hope your next years are nothing like mine were, and let me know if I can help you find help.

  • Morgan Ross says:

    Heads up: The above appears to be comment spam.

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