I realized this morning that I still have such a distorted sense of my body. Sometimes I think I am past it, but I'm not. I don't know that I'll ever be.
I no longer look in the mirror and only see my thighs. I can take compliments, and in fact, eat them up. It used to be that if someone said I had a pretty face, I would immediately think, "Oh, god, he thinks I have a horrible figure."
That horrible eating disordered culture that you find in schools here was also present in my high school in India. India! Where people were starving for lack of food! But there we were in this American school, all these weight-obsessed, eating-disordered high school girls.
Our parents could never say, "Finish your food! There are children starving in Bangladesh!" Because, of course, we could literally just walk our plates out the gate and practically trip over those starving children.
In high school, at 5'3" my weight was mostly 110, although depending on the year, I fluctuated between 100 pounds (my lowest) and 115 (in a heavier year on a hugely bloated PMS day). I weighed myself every day.
I remember weighing myself and being 5 pounds heavier than the day before, and bursting into tears with my best friend Kris and wailing, "How did I get so fat so fast?"
To get down to 100 pounds, I exercised three hours a day. I would run five miles at noon in the Indian sun and think nothing of it. I ate as close to nothing as I could manage.
Actually, there were so few things I would eat, I can still remember what I ate just about every day. And it was not very much.
I walked to school - 2.5 miles - so I figured that probably burned off breakfast. After school I'd go running. Somewhere between 3 and 5 miles, unless it was a weekend, in which case it was more like 7 or 8. And then lift weights. Or, if it wasn't a weights day, swim a mile. And then walk home - another 2.5 miles. Which then prepared me for dinner.
Dinner, dinner was always incredibly stressful from a food perspective. Hell, it was stressful for a multitude of reasons, because if you have been reading, you know how fucked up but unwilling to talk about anything my family was. So any issues, oh, they weren't discussed. We just let the palpable tension hover over the table and suffocate us just a little.
I mean, really, if your dad accidentally set himself on fire, would you jump up to help him, or would you pass the salt?
My family always ate together. You had to be home for dinner. It didn't matter if play practice or sports or anything ran late. You weren't late. And dinner was where my father could comment on what I was eating and how skinny I was.
But dinner was also a daily personal triumph. Because, as I have said before, my dad couldn't do anything but get upset about the fact that I was only eating 8 peas and half a potato. Or six string beans and the broccoli I'd picked out of the stir fry. Or whatever.
He would fume and I would give him baleful looks, and carefully, oh so carefully, spear one pea at a time.
When I got down to 100 pounds, I looked like a stick. With thighs. And I hated my thighs. But there's only so much starving and exercising you can do to change your body. Your body type is what it is.
I still have soccer player kind of legs. Now I can pat my thighs and say, "With these legs my Viking ancestors walked across the prairie." Ha. Now I can mostly appreciate them. But then, I loathed them. I couldn't see past them.
And I had it all very carefully under control until I got to college and my world fell apart and lost any modicum of control I had. I ate chocolate and cried every day. I gained 30 pounds. I was so thoroughly wretchedly miserable. And it took me a couple years to get it back in hand.
Now I don't ever weigh myself; I haven't for years. I can't - I obsess about the number. And I lift weights, so though I don't have a big frame, I've got a lot of muscle. I've been told a variety of times, by men who have physically picked me up, that I'm a lot heavier than they expect from looking at me. This is OK with me, as long as I'm fine with my size.
For the last week or so, though, I have been seriously convinced that I had practically doubled in size. Warm weather clothes which, last time it was this warm, did not fit me snugly, were tight.
Truly, all it takes to send me on one of two wildly divergent courses - either a long run or the consumption of a consolatory pound of peanut M&Ms - is a suddenly too-tight pair of pants.
I'd like to be able to manage what are actually only a couple pound weight fluctuations with equanimity. I'd like to feel like it doesn't matter. But it's such an insane trigger. These pants are tight=I'm fat=nobody is ever going to love me.
It's toxic thinking, to be sure. Completely irrational. But I still have not yet gotten rid of that deep-down panic reaction.