Friday, October 16, 2015
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
It’s my sister’s 30th birthday tomorrow and I’m flying up to New York to celebrate with her. This is my first time leaving the confines of Boca Raton, Florida since I began recovery, and it’s safe to say I am terrified.
In my last session with my therapist we discussed my impending trip and, together, tried to prepare accordingly.
“I want you to write down the things you think might trigger you when you are away, so that we can come up with a line of defense in advance.”
I’m worried how it might affect me when my friends comment on my size, good or bad.
“Send them a message beforehand, individually or as a group, asking them not to make any comments on your physical appearance. Let them know you are in a very fragile place right now, and even if the comments are positive, you might interpret them negatively.”
I’m worried I will feel grossly huge and unattractive when I’m out with my friends. New York is a city of beautiful people.
“Definitely try to go out–be social and have fun. You may find it is good for you. But, never be ashamed to call it an early night and go home. As a matter of fact, give yourself time each day you are there to be alone, to recuperate. This is a lot to take in, and you will be exhausted.”
I’m worried about how my clothes will fit me; I’m scared to see myself in new mirrors. I’m worried of my new body making me uncomfortable.
“Don’t try on any of your old clothes. Pack a bag of things to wear while you are there, and avoid mirrors if you can–except for maybe a bathroom one to apply your makeup with.”
I’m worried I’ll feel overwhelmed when I’m food shopping. I don’t exactly know how to shop for food, really. And right now, I’m still eating in patterns.
“It’s okay to stick with your safe foods while you are away–as long as you’re still eating substantial amounts. Don’t worry about experimenting or eating socially. It’s a big enough step that you are going to be on your own. The patterns–they’re still to be expected at this stage. It’s going to take a long time for you to listen to your body and not your rules. And if you really are having a hard time, you can always call me.”
But none of this really eased my anxiety. Up until this point I’ve been able to accept the changes on my body because I’ve been in a safe place– at home, mostly rocking big t-shirts and far away from the public eye. New York will change all that. And to top if off, I have no coats that will fit me, and all I have for pants are some mom jeans from two decades ago that my mother so generously let me steal from her closet.
I’m going to look like a fat lesbian from the 90s with really bad split ends.
I am also in desperate need of a hair cut.
The fasten seatbelt sign lights up, and per the pilot’s request, I grab my phone from my backpack and turn it on airplane mode.
Cabin and crew, prepare for takeoff.
“This is my first time going to New York. Have you been there before?”
The middle age man sitting next to me tries to make conversation.
I roll my eyes, look him dead in the eye and reply, “Sorry, I’m not the kind of person who enjoys talking to other people.” I put in my headphones, turn up the volume and look out the window as we approach the runway.
There’s no turning back now.
February 4, 2015
With my fingers trembling, I pick up my phone and dial the numbers.
“Hello?” I hear concern in my mom’s voice on the other line.
I can’t bring myself to speak.
“Hello? Talia? Are you okay?”
“Talia what’s wrong, where are you?”
I suddenly can’t remember why I called my mother. Or rather, what I thought I would tell her once I did– I just didn’t know who else to call.
“I’m at the gym.”
“Is everything alright?”
“So why are you calling me?”
My mother knows about my obsessive workouts; she knows about my fear of drinking water; she knows about the numbers game I play with the scale– but she doesn’t know about the laxatives, and I’m not sure how to tell her.
“I passed out mom…I can’t get up.”
“Why did you pass out, Talia? What happened?”
I close my eyes, I take a deep breath and I begin to speak out loud in honesty about what I’ve been doing to myself the past few years.
If you tell her now, you will no longer be able to deny it.
I tell her how in 2013 in order to keep off weight, I started taking laxatives twice a week, four at a time. I tell her how by 2014 my body became resistant, so I upped my intake. I tell her how in August I had a strange reaction to them, and was throwing up all night; how that scared me, but not enough to stop me from taking them. And then I tell her how since I lost my job in January I’ve been taking them three or four times a week, 8 pills at a time. I tell her about the nights spent in agonizing pain from the pills, and the days spent in embarrassment, making excuses for my trips to the restroom. I tell her how merely holding the pills in my hand activates a gag reflex, but none of this ever stops me from taking them.
Because I am weak.
I tell her how I took 8 this morning and came to the gym a few hours after hoping to rush the process. I tell her how after the pills did their work, I still had two hours of a workout to complete, but I was dehydrated. I tell her how I ignored my body’s cry for water, and continued my routine wearing my leather bomber jacket. I tell her how I fainted on the elliptical and still refused to drink water. I tell her how I’ve been laying on the mat for the past two hours, unable to move. I tell her how I didn’t know what else to do, so I called her.
My mother had no idea it was this bad.
“Talia, please come home. You need to come home.”