How is it possible that even when we know why we are doing something to harm ourselves that we continue to do it? I have had issues with anorexia that started when I was 15. At the time I really just chalked it up to wanting to be thin so someone would want to be with me. It also didn’t help that my Dad decided to put me on a diet in high school due to the fact that I didn’t “seem healthy”. It may have been true that eating French toast every day after school while doing my homework wasn’t the best idea, but it did nothing for my self esteem to have my Father make me perfectly balanced meals that fit the zone diet. Being a 15 year old female I took the spiteful approach and just stopped eating all together.
I remember the feeling of power and satisfaction I felt when I made it three whole days without eating anything other than sugary cappuccino that came from the machine at school. This is when I also discovered what a great appetite suppressant caffeine was, not only does the liquid fill you up the caffeine gives you the missing energy. I developed incredible lying skills, telling everyone that I either, “just ate”, or was having “strange stomach issues”. I got extremely good at dodging meals and outings that involved eating. Never once did I tell people that I was trying to lose weight, instead I just kept food at bay.
I’m really not sure when I realized that not eating had very little to do with wanting to be thin. That’s not to say that I did not love when I would step on the scale and had dropped another five pounds in less then a week, but the actual act of abstaining from food didn’t have anything to do with wanting to see all of my ribs. My first few months out of college things got particular bad, I discovered the practice of county calories. I bought a book that had almost every type of food and it, what their calorie count was and what types of activities burned the most calories. This was before the time of online food journals and calorie trackers. I became obsessed with writing down everything that I ate, every move I made and making sure that my caloric defecate was always very high. I would never allow myself to consume more than 6oo hundred calories a day. At the time I worked three bartending jobs and was on my feet for at least ten hours everyday if not more. I was burning way more calories then I was taking in, and I dropped 17lbs in three weeks. Again I found myself being very proud of my will power, that I had overcome the need for food. Things got worse and it wasn’t until my life fell apart and I ran away to South America that I stop obsessing about my caloric intake, it’s hard to care about calories when you are hauling 150lbs of bananas down a muddy road.
After moving to California and getting on anti depressants I gained a lot of weight. All of a sudden I found myself in a very controlled and loving environment. I lived at my job and everything was taken care off, I met wonderful people and didn’t feel as though my life was spiraling out of control. I got to my heaviest weight ever and according to my mom was “a bit Porkey”, but both my parents claimed to rather have me be a bit on the plus size as long as I was happy. Although I was unhappy with having put on thirty pounds in the course of six months, there was never a point where I really felt the need to do something about it. However when I moved away from my place of work and was without a job for the winter season the need to control my eating came back. In retrospect it was a good thing because I had become quit hefty at that time.
Recently I have been making a valiant effort to date and potentially meet someone I could form a relationship with. With dating comes rejection and for some reason some rejections just really fucked you up. This last one took a toll on me, probably because he was the first smart guy I met in this town and it had a really bazaar ending. A day after the rejection I did the emotional eating thing, eating udon noodles with cheese sauce and sausage. However the following day I feel back into old eating habits. I told myself that I was going lose a lot of weight so if I ever saw him again he would feel stupid. But that is not the case, I am now on day three of eating no more than 500 hundred calories and doing extensive works outs at the gym. This not only coincides with the rejection, but also my regular winter lay off and pretty much everything else being unsure in my life. I know that me controlling my eating is just a means for me to gain control over something in my life. I know that it will in no way make anyone fall in love with me, nor will it make all the other difficult things in my life go away and yet once again I fall back on my fail safe method of feeling empowered. The twisted thing is that I missed it, I missed my disorder and the way it makes me feel. I am almost happy that things in my life have fallen apart just to give me an excuse to take control again in the only way I know how. I know it’s wrong, and I know it is extremely unhealthy and that at my age I should have gotten over this, but here I am once again counting calories and validating myself and my strength on how long I can keep moving on an empty stomach.
There are countless reasons why I hate dating. There is the constant guessing, the money spending, the awkward encounters, the feeling of being on an endless interview, the continuous fear of rejections, and worst of all having to go out to eat. I hate going out to eat, more than most other things that I am forced to do in life. It is a very strange phobia and one that I unfortunately have to pretend not to have when I first start dating someone. I have been told by numerous friends that I can not tell guys about this issue until we have slept together.
I have what is known as a specific social phobia. The fear of eating in public apparently is not common enough to get its own long fun phobia name, instead it is grouped in with a bunch of other obscure phobias. I can’t begin to explain how much I dread eating in front of people. I start to eat and I feel as though I no longer know how to swallow. My throat closes up and I am convinces that everyone is starting at me and judging me. In my mind everyone is asking themselves, “why is that fat girl eating that? She should not be eating anything.” Logically I know that this is not the case, that most likely no one even knows that I am there, but that does not stop the fear. I project onto others what I am feeling myself.
As I have gotten older this problem has become more and more of an issue. I think I was the only college freshman who lost weight. The thought of eating three meals a day in the cafeteria was just to much to bare. My first semester I didn’t eat anything other than tomatoes and cucumbers at lunch and than I would wait until the late night snack bar was open to get a few things for my room to hold me over. During my trip home for Thanksgiving my mother actually stood outside the bathroom door to make sure I wasn’t throwing up my meals. I had lost so much weight she was convinced that I must be bulimic. Once I was able to live in an apartment off campus life got a little easier. At that time in my life everyone was just binge drinking all the time and no one had the money or stomach to go out to eat.
Recently I was talking to a co worker about my problem eating in public. In my typically manor I was just making a joke of how crazy I am laughing about the absurdity of someone my age having such a phobia. She asked where it had come from. Up until that point I had never thought to really pin point when this issue had started. I think I always just excepted the fact that I was born this way. Later that night I got online and started to do some research. Several different sites claimed the same things, that this specific social phobia originates when someone is young and has a traumatic public eating experience. So I thought back to all the times we went out to eat when I was young, this as not many due to living in the middle of nowhere and not having any restaurants within 30 miles. But there was this one time, we went to a sit down Chinese restaurant. I can’t really remember how old I was but I’m guessing it as around ten. There was a large women eating with a man at a corner table. I clearly remember thinking that she probably shouldn’t be eating Chinese food so I asked my father if he thought that people judged other people for their food choices when they were in public. He said very simply, “Yes”. And that was the end of the conversation.
At the age of ten I had not yet realized I had a morbid self image. I did however silently judge everything that everyone ate who was in my peripherals. By the time I had developed my own self image issues this idea of food being the determiner of one image and self worth had be thoroughly ingrained in my head. There was no going back. By the time I was 15 I was convinced that I was extremely overweight and that no one would ever love me because being skinny equaled being pretty and being pretty meant someone would love you. No one other than my family seems to love me, so deductive reasoning meant I was fat. I stopped eating and taking laxatives and diet pills. This continued on until I was 23. The rear times that I would eat more than cucumbers or lettuce, I would hid it. I could not handle the thought of someone seeing me eat anything substantial. I felt as if they would be asking themselves what I was asking myself, “Why would she eat that when she clearly sees how fat she it?”
Although the eating issues over all have gotten better with age, I have never been able to shake the feeling of being judge when I eat. I have to be extremely comfortable with someone to eat in front of them. I avoid eating in front of co works at work and I make up an excuse any time friends invite me out to eat. I no longer judge others, I have no place to judge anyone on anything. I truly believe that everyone has their own issues that they deal with in their own ways. I still judge myself though, every time I eat anything I feel guilty. I go through long periods of not eating ant then closet binge. I feel like people who know me must be so confused because they never see me eat and yet I’m not skinny.
Most people have a sense that I am a little off when it comes to certain things, but I don’t think people realize to what extent these issues affect my life. It would be nice to be able to meet a guy out for dinner and not have to research the menu first to see what I could eat without feeling like everyone will think I’m a fat cow. Or feel like I could finish the my whole meal and not be silently judge. I’m not sure it will ever happen and instead I will eat alone in the copy room at work, or in my apartment by myself where only I can judge myself.
What if I’m not destined for anything? What if this is really just it. There are millions of people in this world and how many of them will ever be known to more than just their families. I’m beginning to think that I am one of those people. I wish I could believe that as long as I’m a good person and care about the people in my life that my life will have mattered. I don’t feel that way. I’m starting to feel like I will never really do anything in my life that will make any type of influence, not even in my immediate life.
When I was young I would spend hours in the back yard pretending that I was on a never ending sitcom. I would spout off these monologues until my throat was sore. I thought that I was so interesting and so intriguing that anyone who could have been watching me would have. I was convinced that my life was made to be broadcast, to be shared, to help teach people and help them grow. Even at the age of ten I thought that I was so hard-done-by everyone would want to hear my tale.
My life, thus far, has not been anything worthy of even a low budget independent film that is only aired on PBS after midnight. I grew up in Northern Vermont with a nice family. I wasn’t abused, my Dad worked away a lot but I knew he loved me. I went through a brief six year stint of anorexia, nothing that abnormal for my age group at the time. I saw some pretty fucked up shit at the first college I went to and I completely messed up my first real relationship. I suffered from severe depression and needed medication for a while and than I got better.
Now I look at my life and I worry that I’m never going to really do anything with it. I go to work, and it’s a good job but it’s not some high profile job where I am making a name for myself, nor is it some small meaningful job working at a grassroots foundations. If living my life didn’t make any marks on this world than shouldn’t I be trying to do something in my professional life? Am I just going to be fine with getting by? I had so many dreams and delusions when I was a child. I just gave up on all of them. I don’t even know what I want to be when I grow up anymore. For so long I think that I just wanted to be content, not wake up every morning wanting to kill myself. Now that I have accomplished that I have stopped. I’ve stopped wanting.
I have become like so many others, I just live my life from day to day. I get caught up in different men that may come my way but for the most part I just do what I have to and then do it again the next day. I can see this being the rest of my life. Now I just have to decide if this is all I want. Am I okay just having my life play out and know that after I die I will have made no impression on history. Do I even have the ability to do anything substantial with my existence? Have I grown so lazy in my constant state of comfort that I wouldn’t even want to work at anything any more? I don’t know what will be worse if I just keep on keeping on, or if I actually try to make something of myself.
I have been on birth control since I was twenty and yet still breath a sigh of relief when I get my period. This last time though was different. I have been convincing myself that I have never wanted children, that it is just not in the cards for me. I have no natural maternal instincts and I can’t ever envision myself pumping out a child nor raising one. There was a brief amount of time that I entertained the idea when I was with my first serious boyfriend. I don’t think I ever really took the time to think about what it meant to have children, At the time I just accepted it as the natural order of things, but I never really thought about in a real sense.
I don’t make a habit of having sex without using a condom, but that’s not to say that is doesn’t happen once in a while. This last time though, it all felt different. I have convinced myself for the past four years that I have been in love with the same man. There are a thousand reasons why I should not be in love with this man, but that is a story for a different time. We have had sex a handful of time in the past five years. In all those times we have always used a condom. But a few weeks ago something shifted. We had not slept together in over a year and then I ended up at his house and then in his bed. I have always loved having sex with this man. He has these muscle in these amazing places and he has the ability to make me cum even when I’m not on top, a feat never accomplished by any other man. I think half of my confusion about being in love with him stamens from how good he is in bed. When we begin he grabs a condom, but for some reason asks if I’m on birth control. Yes we have slept together for that long and he never thought to ask, but this time he decided to forgo the condom, with my permission of course. There was no way I as going to deny the man whom I think I’m in love with. To be completely honest, I wanted nothing more than to have him inside me without anything separating us. I wanted to feel what it would be like if we where actually together in a normal relationship that progressed to the condomless stage. So when he told me he was cuming and tried to pull out I resisted, I too was reaching climax and could not bare the thought of him not being inside me as I lost control on top of him. I feel asleep that night knowing full well that his sperm was inside of me and I didn’t even try to remedy that, instead I rolled over, curled up and fell asleep to the sound of him playing guitar.
The next day on my way to work I had a moment of panic when I thought about the night before. I am not in a relationship with this man and he has no obligation to be. Never before had a non-boyfriend cum inside of me. In the back of my mind I could just see getting pregnant because it would be the worst possible thing that could happen. In the following few weeks I kept having these vision of this baby and I knew that if I was knocked up I would have to tell him. There are some guys that I would not feel the need to tell, but he is different, he is pushing 40 and I don’t even know if he wants kids. His lifestyle is surly not leading him in the direction of children but it would be unfair of me to take something away from him that he wanted. Than I began to spiral, thinking about if he wanted the kid, but I don’t and than I would resent him as I grew large, gave birth, than had another human to take care of. I started to get angry at the idea that I would even have to talk to him. I knew there would never be any chance of anything happening between us if I had to abort his baby, or even worse raise it. The euphoria I had felt that night had fallen away and I was only left with doubt.
When I finally did get my period (thank you years of being on the pill) I was relieved, beyond relieved, in my mind I have created this problem so large that I couldn’t believe it was not going to happen. But after the relief pasted sadness came crashing down on me, I really don’t want children. If I don’t even want to procreate with someone I claim to be in love with, than it’s true that I really don’t want to have kids. I’m almost thirty and this is the reality of my life. I will never pick out children’s names, I will never take ridiculous baby photos, I will never have to go to a parent teacher conference. My life will only consist of me and my decisions, I will never know what it is like to feel responsible for another life. I know for certain that I don’t have a want for children, but the not wanting is a pretty depressing realization.