My name is Railenthe.
I have an eating disorder.
I am not my eating disorder.
But you could’ve fooled me.
It probably hit earlier than I’m giving it—when my grandmother started calling me fat and curtailing my intake so much that it took my part-time job at a Hardee’s burger joint and the rest of the family sneaking me food. When I was a kid it was impossible to get me to eat. I was afraid I’d get fat.
Also for the most part I didn’t like food.
(…I should wait for the echoes of that big “WHAT?!” to fade, shouldn’t I?)
I’d take forever to chew one mouthful of food so I wouldn’t have to eat more. Mom’s wicked orange roughy and spinach with vinegar (OMG YUM) changed that, but I still didn’t have much in the way of stomach capacity. They started fixing me smaller plates.
School didn’t help either. School lunches were AWFUL! With the exception of their pepperoni pizza (an oddly sauceless thing that had garlic crumbles and a decent cheese) and their mozzarella sticks (really mozzarella grilled cheese) it was all terrible.
Then third grade hit and I went from like four feet nothing to my full height. If it wasn’t nailed down I ate it. Two of it if I could.
Fast forward to high school when I was finally MOSTLY happy with my body (there were still a few things missing that I wanted) and suddenly there’s all this “FAT” talk. I ignored it—I was a size four and, well, not really PROUD of it because I didn’t have any hips yet but at least I wasn’t a PLUS SIZE. *dramatic gasp* I had a job, I had decent grades (in everything but algebra). I mean sure, I was being bullied to hell and back, failing algebra, being beaten every time I turned around for stating what I thought, falling straight out of love with the church, and trying to figure out why it was I was noticing all these cute girls without noticing any guys (English class helped fix that! Hi, Evi!) and my dad was dating a woman who every time she turned around was being mistaken for ME, but life wasn’t so bad! I mean, there was that one aborted suicide attempt, sure…but things weren’t SO bad, right? Everyone gets forgotten on campus a few times and stuck until dusk when someone remembers to pick them up and then thrown around the house for a couple hours afterwards because it’s totally their fault, right?
This is why the guidance counselor fasttracked me into therapy during school hours, got the therapist to prescribe me Zoloft, little knowing that as soon as it was discovered my father’d flush it and kick my ass for daring to seek help.
Basically, even if the start of this problem was far earlier than I give it credit for, it wasn’t a PROBLEM until that year. And it became a problem. There was no purging or anything like that—well except the exercise. “I’ve eaten chips. I need to ride one lap around the projects now.” “That yogurt was delicious. I need to climb some stairs now to earn it.” I noticed that on days we could eat something besides hot dogs and stringbeans, my portions were noticeably smaller than everyone else’s. You’d get your head bitten off if you refilled your plate—by ‘you’ and ‘your’ I mean ‘I’—and it just kept feeding that. After this had been going on for a while parts of the family became saner, helped me eat past the restrictions put on me. But the problem had started. I borderlined between anorexia and orthorexia.
Orthorexia is a fairly new entry to the eating disorder pantheon, an obsession with ‘right eating.’ I went natural-organic-low-fat-natural-flavoring-no-artifical-anything-low-cal-low-carb-low-cholesterol-heart-healthy. If it didn’t meet ALL OF THOSE? I didn’t eat. Except in school. High school’s food was MUCH BETTER, and I was more likely to get enough to eat there before I went home. So I did. I just did an extra workout video to compensate.
By the time I got out of that house, my dad and his now-wife were trying to fatten me up. (Her cooking ain’t half bad, but OH MY GODS IT WILL DERAIL YOUR WEEK. She makes a deep dish pizza that’s about seven layers thick. Finish that first piece and ask for a second, I DARE ya.) She saw that HIS overzealous bulk-cooking was making me sick, but there was no talking to him. Eventually I started looking forward to the pediatric gainer shakes he made me drink at each meal because I couldn’t keep his cooking down. (Keep in mind I was nineteen.) He confiscated my tea and vitamins, saying I was an addict. (Mama started sneaking me a little raspberry ceylon with a little bitty bottle of Irish crème for late-night sneaking after that bull started. I’d wait for the alcohol to evaporate off before I drank it. Helped keep my head on.)
But then it got worse—food kept getting stolen—like my Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches (the one diet food they let me have, because full-fat ice cream made my stomach turn into a small internal hell) and the chocolate and the lunchmeat.
I was prime suspect.
At the time I was also 90 pounds.
The other kids—one specifically—were developing tubbiness and a bit of problem digestion due to being allergic to chocolate.
This is where I pause for the “WAT.” isn’t it? It is? OK. Here we go.
I got tired of being blamed and beaten for this and had to bail. But by this point the damage was done. Dad’s trying to fatten me up, the opposite is happening, and the whole “I haven’t done enough today to earn this” has already internalized.
If it wasn’t for my best friend and the one-ride Metro ticket that literally fell out of the sky at my feet one day, I might not have escaped.
Fast forward to now. I’ve spent most of the time awake this morning feeling lethargic and just plain not good—looking at my diet app and being proud of how well I stuck to my diet yesterday, but knowing I needed to eat more if I’m really so sick and tired. My phone has gone off with the “Oh, crap!” ring that Tatl makes on Majora’s Mask, alerting me that it’s time to do the onceover for my apartment. But all I can think about is: “Huh. Check it out. I have a little bit less belly than I did last week!”
The sad news is this is an improvement.
The last time I cleaned house I ‘accidentally lost track of’ my scale, so I can’t obsessively weigh myself at the hours of seven, one, six, and eleven every day—
…like I said. This is an improvement.
The messed up thing is, as much as I’d like to focus on my writing and scripting and the like, like getting the Qu’s Kitchen some more love, this damnable eating disorder has taken over my life again.
I finally went to my therapist with my concerns and we’re going to address this problem. So if there’s a lot of rambling and ranting that involves ranting about damn food and stuff, just remember that Rai ain’t well, a’ight? But I appreciate any support that can be had.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been typing and feelsing for two hours and I need to get to cleaning this damned apartment.