I woke up early after a
great night with friends; it was my birthday yesterday and I was
treated to dinner and drinks. Feeling lifted due to the occasion, I
celebrated and let loose, finishing an entire meal and even -
get this - dessert! It was a lovely three tier cake that the
restaurant staff brought out on a platter, singing a cheesy
"happy birthday" jingle and dancing around our table. It was
lovely. I had just turned twenty-one; hence the drinks. I
couldn't have been happier.
"Ugh, you're finally up." She walked in the room, head high, looking graceful and intimidating as always. I rubbed my sleepy eyes and sat up in bed, getting a head rush from my hangover.
"Yeah, I'm up... what time is it?" All good things have consequences, and this awful headache and grumbling stomach was mine for such a banging night. I leaned back upon my pillow with the small of my back. She slapped open my curtains making sun burst through the windows, stinging my eyes.
"Hm, about time you got the Hell up! Over-sleeping does horrible things to your metabolism, doll." Those eyes she gave me... disappointment, disgust, doubt. I swung my feet out of bed and in to my slippers resting on the floor. She jumped up on to the window-sill ledge and crossed her thin, lovely legs ever so lady-like. She caught me watching.
"So," I heard it in her voice. She knew. "Where were you last night and why was I not invited?"
I scattered my brain for some sort of excuse or lie to cover my tracks. Nothing. I made my way to my closet, head low and facing away from her to avoid her question.
"We have known each other for years, but you still try to hide things from me? Don't lie. Where were you?"
She was so authoritary when she spoke. I pulled a nice summer dress out from my closet and held it up to my body, turning to her to change the subject.
"How is this?"
"Puh-lease! After that slice of three-layered chocolate cake last night?" She jumped down from the window, barely making a sound when her body touched the floor, and strutted over to the closet. I saw that look in her eyes again as she passed and reached inside; and I gulped audibly. I was caught, and she wasn't impressed in the slightest. "You might want to try something more like these. I doubt you'll fit in that today, beer gut."
"I... I'm sorry." I mumbled to her, dropping my favourite dress to the floor in shame. I grabbed the loose track pants that she had grabbed from the closet and unfolded them. "And it wasn't beer..."
"What's that? Oh - right! It was a couple of those girly drinks. That makes it better. Sugar, sugar, alcohol and calories." She gave a sarcastic chuckle under her breath, then turned away in frustration. I began undressing myself to change in to the track pants she had picked out, grabbing a plain tee shirt from the closet to match. I felt terrible. She was right - all that food, and then those drinks? What was I thinking? I should have stayed home and celebrated skinny rather than celebrating my birthday. What was to celebrate about copious amounts of fattening indulgences? And thinking I could lie about it? I must have been drunk before I went out, making all those kinds of decisions. As I was slipping the last of my clothing off, I heard her pushing my free-standing mirror over to me. The squeaking wheels sounded like knives to me. My heart sank.
"I don't need that today." I said, looking down at myself. I had realized just how bloated I was from last nights festivities. I didn't plan on leaving the house today and didn't care what I looked like. Okay - I cared; but I didn't care to see.
"You need it today more than any other day." She stopped the mirror in front of me then floated to my side, resting her gentle, fragile fingers on my shoulders to turn me towards it. "Look."
I shook my head frantically, tears building up in my eyes. I started to nervously pick at my fingernails. I argued back with her as long as I could, until she finally grabbed my chin and forced my head upright.
"Look, damn you!"
I choked on a gasp, my cheeks turning hot and my tears uncontrollably pouring out. I stared at the image reflecting back at me, completely repulsed. As if overnight, I had transformed in to someone else; someone larger than I had been last night.
"One night without me, and this is what you let yourself become? This. Is. Pathetic!" I fell to the ground, sobbing in my hands. She didn't let up. "Look at this revolting, loose-skinned, loser! You dare think you can go against me? When have I ever done you wrong? When have I ever failed you? Never. Yet, you try to hide from me and sneak out with your other friends. You try to do me wrong. And look - now you have not only failed me, but sweetie... you have failed yourself."
I felt her piercing gaze upon me as I shriveled up on the floor, sad and pathetic.
"Get up." She ordered, with a calm, harsh voice.
"I can't... I don't want to..." I moaned in response, crushed by my failure. She realized that I understood and her tone turned motherly and accepting. Kneeling beside me, she wrapped her tiny arms around my body as much she could.
"I forgive you. We can get through this, together. Stand up. There's no time for feeling sorry for yourself. Motivation is what your errors can become. Listen to me, doll. I have never done you wrong."
Glossy-eyed and damp-faced, I looked up in to her angelic visage, hopeful, apologetic and weakened.
"Make it go away." I pleaded. She helped me up from the floor and held me tightly for a moment. Then, she left the room. I dressed myself and turned once more to the mirror. I pinched at my thighs and hips, where there definitely was loose skin. She was entirely correct. I lifted my shirt and pinched the rolls and muffin top around my waist and stomach area. Beer-gut, check. Sticking my arms out to the side, I wiggled the low-hanging flab of skin that dangled. I pinched and I pulled and I just hoped that I could tear the fat right off of myself; but there it stayed.
I decided it was best to
take a noon-time jog around the block. I grabbed my ankle weights,
strapped them on, and dropped my feet in to a pair of running
shoes. I opened my front door, briefly stopping myself and
thinking. There would be so many people out in my neighbourhood, as
it was Sunday, and they would all see me. I took a step
back, anxiously. My neighbours had all seen me jogging before in
the past. After last night, they would all notice my gain. They
would all have a thought cross their mind about my failure. They
would know. My heart began to race and I felt nauseated.
"Get out there." She said, walking up behind me with a water bottle in hand. "Here. It's got some vitamins and supplements mixed in; some of that weight loss powder we picked up Friday. Lucky timing, huh?"
I shook my head and accepted the water. Her presence gave me the drive I needed to overcome my anxiety and start my run. More than I feared my neighbours judgement, I feared being fatter than I was. Sure, they would notice my gain, but at least they would know I was doing something about it. My run was amazing and fulfilling. I felt freer with each and every stride. My calves and thighs burned satisfyingly and I sweat off at least a hundred cal. Coming back around my block, I felt accomplished. It was a forty minute jog, which burned about three-hundred and twenty calories with the effort I put in. I couldn't wait to tell her.
Reaching my house, I chugged back the remaining contents of my water bottle and stretched my limbs. Alongside my hangover, cramping was the last thing I wanted. I headed inside. There she was, sitting on the foyer bench with a beautiful smile on her face. I sat myself down beside her.
"Feel better?" She asked me. I hadn't yet caught my breath and simply nodded, grinning. "Great. Ugh. You missed a LOT! We can work on that later. At least we made some progress on the thunder thighs. It will have to do."
"I thought I did really well..." I managed to get out.
"Yeah, you did alright. But darling, look at you. It's going to take much more than a forty minute jog to fix the junk in your trunk."
I felt squished, like an ant trailing across a picnic blanket. I just wanted her to be happy with me; I just wanted to be happy with myself.
"You know what we need? A few days away from food."
"Will that really help?" I skeptically asked her.
"Of course. Look at me!" She stood from the bench and turned 360 degrees. I marveled at her beauty. Her bones protruded elegantly, and she almost floated on the air when she spun. I envied all that she was - and all that she wasn't.
"Okay. I'll try!"
"No. You will succeed." She sat again. "Because I will be right here to help you."
For the next three days, she did exactly that. She was harsh on me when I needed it, and I forgave her for every cruel word she spoke. We exercised day in and day out together. She was accepting of me always, even when I asked her if I could sneak a bite of something against her advice. Every time the nagging pings of hunger rumbled in my stomach, she was right there to distract me in thought and conversation. We researched different ways to fight them back over the internet, which really was effective for a while. But eventually, we became weak. She stopped coming around so often. And after five days, I woke up alone.
"Ana?" I called out. She didn't respond. I sat up quickly in bed and scanned the room around me, hoping she would turn up. I jumped out of bed and made my way over to my mirror. I was surprised at what I saw.
"Wow..." I exclaimed at my thinning body and diminishing curves. I had worked off the extra pounds I gained on my birthday. I felt happy again. Looking down at my flat, almost con-caving stomach, I heard a rumble. "Oh God..."
The pain was intense and I felt light-headed. I almost fainted, but caught myself on my closet door and steadied my balance. I stumbled to my bed and sat down, gripping my abdomen tightly. The cramping ceased after a moment. Then he walked in.
"Eat." He said, and nothing more. "Eat."
I shook my head violently in protest. His voice raised.
"Eat." He exclaimed. I closed my eyes and balled myself up. Where was Ana? Why wouldn't she help me?
"Go away!" I mustered the courage to say. He towered over me when he spoke again.
"Eat!" He boomed with an unwavering voice. He grabbed me by the shoulders and looked straight in to my eyes. Then, calmly again, he spoke to me. This time, he pleaded. "Eat... please..." After this, he left. I looked around the room, expecting her to show. Maybe she was just late. Nothing. So, reluctantly, I made my way downstairs. With every step closer to the kitchen, my heart pounded harder against my chest. I began fantasizing about the delicious tastes of fruit, vegetables, bacon, cereal, pasta, ramen noodles, potato chips... Oh my God...
I swung open the fridge, pausing for a moment. Then, regret struck me.
"No... I won't let you down..." I shut the fridge again. Then, I heard footsteps in my hallway. I thought it was her, but I was greeted by a new, unfamiliar face.
"Go ahead." She said, with warm eyes. "Eat!"
She was friendly and inviting, not at all intimidating like Ana. I felt comfortable with her in the room. Opening the fridge, I grabbed an apple, two baby carrots and some dip.
"Oh, maybe not that, though." She advised, grabbing the vegetables from my hands and placing them back in the fridge. I stared at her, puzzled and confused. "Try something like.... this!" She grabbed me some blueberry Yoghurt, Jell-O and juice. None of which were very healthy.
"I don't think I can."
"Of course you can, friend! Listen, I can help you out." I sat down with my food, glaring at it hungrily but not yet indulging. I needed to hear what she had to say. "You can eat whatever you want when I'm around; there's a very simple solution to it all."
"What is it?" Intrigue struck me.
"Well, you simply bring it all back up!"
"You mean... I vomit?"
She giggled and started digging through the freezer. She grabbed a tub of vanilla ice cream and placed it on the counter in front of me before turning to grab a spoon from the counter drawer beside the fridge. "What else, silly? I mean... you could take the other route, but this is much better. And much more effective. Promise!"
I hesitantly opened my Jell-O.
"Eat what you want, and never have to get a visit from him again. Just regurgitate! It's all too simple." She began rummaging through the cupboards, throwing up boxes of soft-baked cookies and cans of soup. The second that I took my first bite of Jell-O, I couldn't stop. Within minutes, all the non-prep food she had put before me was down.
"Great!" She said, turning the stove on to cook the cans of soup.
"I feel like I shouldn't be eating all of this..."
"Why?" She barked. "Because Ana will be mad? Hah! You need her like I need a flu shot."
"I always get my flu shots..."
"The point is - you don't need her! Sure, you can get the painful, awful needle and possibly not get the flu. Or, you could spare yourself the trouble. If you get the flu, you just take some medication and it's over in a few days. Chances are, you won't though. The results are the same nine times out of ten." She finished heating the soup and poured me a bowl of it. I scarfed it down instantly, despite it's burning in my throat and chest.
When I finished my binge, she looked at me with eager eyes. I knew it was time. Following her to the bathroom, I prepared myself for the task at hand. It wasn't difficult, as I already felt stuffed and sickly from eating so much. My biggest concern was thinking about if Ana knew what I had just done. However, I trusted Mia completely. I leaned over the toilet, standing, and began to force a gag. At first, nothing came up. She stood by my side, guiding me. Finally, I threw up. It was horrifying and disgusting, but ever so satisfactory. Food came out of my nose, my mouth and splatter all about the toilet. Once I had a flow going, I squatted to be closer to the toilet bowl and avoid created such a large mess.
After I had expelled all that I could, and stomach acid began to come up, I sat down on the bathroom floor and sighed. She sat beside me, patting my back.
"You've done well. But there's plenty more in there that could come out."
"I thought I did pretty well..." I exclaimed, feeling exhausted and worn. She giggled and stood up, towering over me.
"Well? After all I gave you, you expect well to be good enough? How about amazing. Get up, let's go again." I stared at her in disbelief. I thought this would be easy.
"You're no different than her! It's never good enough!" I burst out, finally cracking at the seams. I began to cry uncontrollably again. That's when Ana walked in.
"Oh, great. What the Hell have you done?" She said to Mia, shoving her aside. "That is not how we do things here."
"Please, she enjoyed every minute of it!"
The two began to argue.
"As if, look at her! Why do you think I don't let her indulge? This is exactly what happens. Not to mention, a third of those nutrients have already been absorbed by her body."
"Oh, so driving her mad with hunger is so much better? Jesus. No wonder she is so weak."
"Did you see the way she shoved her face? It was absolutely sickening! What a lack of control."
Suddenly, their conversation turned. I looked up at the two of them, who were both giving me a harsh, unaccepting look. They had turned on me; banded together to form one intimidating superpower. I felt small and helpless.
"God, what a mess you are."
"Let's get out of here, let her think about her actions for a while."
"You got it."
And with that, Ana and Mia retreated from the bathroom. I knew it wasn't the last I would see of them. I hadn't escaped, they had just left me to deal with my mental torment alone. Always there to push me, never there to hold me up. I sat for hours on the bathroom floor, feeling alone. Where would I turn? Who could I tell? Would anybody understand? I didn't know...