There was a new girl in program yesterday. She’s extremely nice, surprisingly open, somehow found a way to relate to just about all of us – and she’s also triggering as fuck.
It’s not her fault. I know that it’s my own head’s way of responding to her. But she’s just so damn skinny. She’s older than I am but several body sizes smaller than I am too. She’s got the fine features, the stick-thin legs with thighs that could never touch no matter how hard she tried to make them, the skinny arms, the flat chest with skin stretched paper-thin over it, the ability to fold herself up so that she can fit entirely within the bounds of a chair cushion. Yet despite her anorexic body, she is bright, she is functional, she’s cheerful and outgoing. She’s everything that my eating disorder says I should be. “See,” Ed says, “she’s done it. She’s gotten to that place of pretty perfection. She’s managed to get there. Why couldn’t you? Failure. You’re just a failure.”
Seeing her makes me wish that I hadn’t gotten better after middle school. That my mother had never noticed, and that I had just been left to myself to stunt my growth and keep myself tiny and small. Seeing the new girl makes me hate having a real body. “If only you had just kept up your behaviors ever since you were little,” my eating disorder spits at me, “you would be where she is right now. You would have the body you wanted. You would be one step closer to perfect.”
Never mind that the girl’s facing potential hospitalization. Never mind that she’s spent most of her life in treatment. Never mind that being her tiny size would mean that I’d probably never be able to work with wolves at the wildlife refuge I volunteer at, because having a stature that petite would make it damn hard to get the wolves to respect me. That’s what I keep trying to hold onto, that thought. The knowledge that having a “real body” makes it more likely that I would garner wolves’ respect and deference and would actually be able to work with them, as opposed to being the new girl’s size – I can imagine the head of the wolf team taking one look at me and saying “Sorry, sweetheart, but you just won’t have the strength or force of presence to handle these kind of animals.”
So frail cannot be perfect, then. I go around and around in my head battling that thought, sometimes believing my eating disorder more and sometimes rising above it and telling it no, being so small and frail would make me incompetent to do the things that I love. It’s a battle.
Well, new girl, welcome. Welcome to the battleground that is treatment. Welcome to the war waged on the inside of my own head. Welcome to the fight that you don’t even know you’re a part of that will happen second after second in my own mind. Welcome, new girl. Welcome.