Eating disorders are never romantic.
Sometimes, I dream of food:
Burgers, cakes, fries set out in a pan of grease that's deep enough to swim in—
I get lost in it. I eat and eat and push my blue-tinted fingertips into layers of frosting and cream, letting chocolate bliss wash over me like a baptism.
Then I wake up.
Guilt rips into my bones, and I feel a sick sense of relief.
I clutch my aching stomach, run my palms against the protrusions of my hips.
I lick my lips and swear that I could taste honey and brown sugar, and for a moment I lay in bed watching dots in my vision swirl away into the unknown.
My feet are as cold as the rest of my body, and I think for a second how nice it would be to wake up warm.
How would it feel to turn over and see a lover sleeping next to me? I don't know. I've never known, but I like to imagine.
For breakfast, an egg (75) with plain toast (95) and tea (5).
Round up. Always round-up. I don't finish. I never finish. I'll repent if I do.
Waking up is cracking joints and a tight jaw. The only thing to comfort me is hot bitter water and hope in between numbers. Always numbers.
I catch my reflection in the door of my microwave. I turn away.
Sometimes, I dream of food.
On other days, I wish I couldn't dream at all.
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Sometimes I think that our bodies are like caves.
We're cold and rich with fungal mirth, swimming in the same mineral soup that stars were born of.
We spend our days working our marrow raw, breaking our joints to the beat of our daily commutes, and to what end?
For hope that the next ten-thousand generations will flourish, for the dream that they'll struggle less and have the chance to breathe—
We never did.
In all of our side-swept longings, we denied ourselves freedom of the ocean, the roads, the forest and nights spent in a lover's arms without setting our alarms.
Conformed to the grasp of routine we find small comforts in hot packed lunches and children's laughter heard from behind tinted windows as we drive past.
It hurts, and you don't know why, because they tell you that it shouldn't.
"You've got it all."
They say it with a smile that never meets the corners of their grey eyes.
"But it doesn't feel like it."
You want to scream back and let your lungs erupt into sun-gilt sky, your eyes scorched and searching for release.
You understand why Icarus licked his parched lips as he drowned into a welcoming sea:
You wonder how sweet it must have tasted.
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds
(C) Wilfred Owen
Have you ever met someone who won gold in The Suffering Olympics?
She's the woman at work who always has it worse than everyone else, and he's the uncle with a blasé attitude, a balding head and a belly full of baby pork...or maybe they're your friend, a parent, your loving wife or hardworking husband.
Don't you feel just as bad as they do?
Are you sick...enough?
Even pain is a contest that you can't win and you're sick of that, too.
It hurts, but not that much. It could always be worse.
But worse would be death and even then, they'd say they died twice that week.
The only thing you're winning is a silver medal in the race, and now you understand that one second is the difference between winning and losing.
Why are you happy? There will always be someone happier.
Stronger, prettier, wealthier.
How can you enjoy existence when comparisons are the only way to add contrast to your world, that make you feel like you're actually achieving something?
This isn't a sport.
You are not a number on a screen.
You are not an athlete with a bib tattooed on their chest.
There are no awards in this game, honey, there's only you.
And you're enough.
Skinny like a Starbucks drink with zero sugar, zero guilt and full of almond-milk joy.
Skinny like a microwaved meal, perfectly portioned and easy to count.
Skinny like two diet cokes and a cigarette for lunch.
Skinny like Adderall, a high dose for higher grades.
Skinny like late nights and random *** with strangers.
Skinny like virginity.
Skinny like binge-purge-repeat.
Skinny like perfection, like mints and sadness and tight little swimsuits.
Skinny like a disorder.
Skinny like control out of control.
Skinny like a diagnosis.
Skinny like suffering.
Skinny like her.
Age comes with a price.
At first there's student loans to pay, and medical bills soon come your way:
There's marriages and births...
Save some money for the worst of times, spend a nickel or throw a dime.
Insurance and loans to buy a home, between car payments and rental fees;
Donate to your church while praying on your knees.
Our wallets grow thinner with each passing day, working grim and *****, tryin' to find another way:
Just make it through and retire, watch the grand kids grow.
Maybe spend a couple of months down in Mexico.
Soon enough you'll have to leave your line, and realize that real wealth...comes in the form of time.