When the desire to desire nothing consumes you.
I use to have a roommate that hid cake under her bed. At night I would lay in a drugged half-sleep as I listened to her desperately stuffing the sticky sweet hunks of yellow cake into her mouth. Sometimes I heard the crunch of her bones as she bit her own fingers as she binged.
The moon-light from our window illuminated her short yellow hair as she sat hunched over her plate—legs folded underneath her. The sounds of her cannibalistic feedings were followed by the telltale sounds of violent retching.
I felt powerless as she would kneel in corner at her shrine—not sure if I should stop her. Should I stop her? Hold her? Save her from herself? I didn’t know, and the truth was— I understood exactly what she was getting out, and why she was doing it that way. As I lay drifting in-and-out of consciousness on my cold white bedding I heard every inaudible word she purged: I-must-be-pure-from-all-desire.
Some nights her cake and food arsenal was raided by the staff. I understood her panic as she dejectedly watched as they confiscated plates of moldy cake, candy bars, fruit, and bread from under the frame of her bed.
“I’ll never know how anyone can make themselves puke! It’s disgusting!” they muttered to themselves.
After the cake raids we would laugh and make fun of the staff and their stupidity. Their disapproving looks and harsh words of disgust, they didn’t know the secret we shared. That we could achieve some real sense of relief from all of the sins committed against our bodies by purging our insides, we purged the truth —of what was done to us.
We weren’t like the manically depressed, the addicts, or the schizoids—we were free from human desire, our ultimate sacrifice was our own flesh. The other patients revered us, but mostly they were scared of our shrunken forms, dark circles, and morbid humor. At the time I thought it was all about the scale, or how much rib cage I could see, or the definition of my abdominal muscles, and it was to an extent—but really, I just wanted to be clean, above reproach, pure, and honestly, that is still what I think I want.
There were eleven of us women in the eating disorder ward at that time. And all of us had been sexual abused, raped, molested, or sexually tortured. Some of us by our brothers, fathers, friends, pastors, boss—everyone you expect to trust. We ranged in ages twelve to fifty-seven and we all spent time soothing and comforting the weight gain woes of one another.
“I can feel the fat forming in my blood after I eat, I can feel my arteries clogging with food—any food.”
“I use to weigh myself after any meal.”
“I want to starve to death, it’s not that I really want to die; I just need to not exist”
we all understood what this statement really meant, we all said it—thought it. We needed the pain to stop, just for a moment, a few minutes, anything—we just needed to catch our breath.
“You’re beautiful, you aren’t fat—look at me—I’m fat.” we’d admonish, and sooth.
Some of us weighed only sixty-eight pounds; I weighed 132 lbs. and felt like a failure. There was evil that lurked in me—vile grunge that gurgled up from the oily crags of my soul. I envied those sixty-eight pounds and craved the day I would be that thin. It was a vow I took. I needed all the evidence of sin to disappear. I needed to exist outside of my body, and somehow I thought wasting away was the only way to achieve that. Sometimes, I still wish for the willpower to stop eating. But I am just too hungry.
I wasn’t considered a “real” bulimic. I didn’t binge, I starved, and then vomited when my willpower dissipated and committed the cardinal sin; eating. I loved the feeling of restriction. My insides felt clean and empty. The emptiness felt like the only pure thing I could associate with my body.
Untouched, unfettered, clean, pure, perfect. I am still haunted by cravings of emptiness. The dull ache of hunger in the morning is still the only part of my day that I do not loathe my body and the way it feels.