It is 2 AM. The apartment is still. Empty jars of peanut butter, quarts of ice cream, and entire boxes of granola bars. Gone. Hundreds to thousands of calories consumed in just minutes. A food spread of shame. Of procrastination. Of emptiness. Of I don’t know what. Fast forward to the next day. On the outside, you see a petite girl who’s joyous, who’s positive, who’s present. On the inside: severe stomach pains, body aches, chest discomfort. And those are just the physical effects. I am drained. I am disgusted. I am trapped. Cycles of isolation feeding isolation. Literally.
Who am I? I am an artist, a city girl, an almost college graduate. A forced optimist, constantly trying to challenge the natural pessimist. I don’t always think rationally, but I don’t consider myself impulsive. I don’t consider myself lonely, but I’m definitely not the social magnet. I can’t connect the dots. So I continue to ask myself, why?
I was always the kid who would scarf down ten cookies in a sitting, but remain a stick. But things changed in the summer after junior year of high school. I was at a physically rigorous theatre program, and the constant exercise gave me the permission to eat whatever, whenever. When my roommate would leave the room, I would dig into bags of bread and jars of nutella, of rice krispie treats and bags of cheetos.
I didn’t have any internal monitor, not even aware that I was quickly packing pounds onto my naturally small frame. By the end of the summer, I was fifteen pounds bigger and hearing the inevitable “Wow! You’ve put on weight” “You’re looking a little chubby!” I was never a body conscious person; I worried more about my unmanageable hair than fitting into a size zero jeans. But self-awareness had finally hit me.
Little did I know, I was about to spend the next five years of my life battling binging. I was fluctuating thirty five pounds with alternating regimens of clean eating, overeating and bizarre fish and string beans diets fueled by a separately bad stint of stomach issues. But sweets were always my downfall. And the practice of moderation seemed impossible.
For a while, things seemed a little better. I could stop at two cookies. I could remind myself this wasn’t the last time I’d eat a piece of cheesecake. But that ran its course. Come junior year of college, I’m back at square one. Life sent my binging out of control. The depression would spur binges, the anxiety would spur binges, the happiness would spur binges, the relief would spur binges, regardless of the emotion–I’d binge.
Year six. My life is much more balanced. I’m practicing more equilibrium. I’ve abandoned all forms of clean eating, paleo prescriptions and desserts for dinner. I am feeling freer, bolder and more loving and grateful than ever. My wheels still spin out of control at times, but the difference is my ability to stay present, but also find a way to move forward, to move past the shame, the guilt, the obsessing. To not let my slip ups define me. I consider it to be my beginning to the cliched saying “new year, new me.”