Bathroom Break

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I think I’ve always had a problem loving myself. I know the world doesn’t need one more girl with low self-esteem. As large a population as we are, it is just the most god-awful loneliest feeling. I am an African American female, and every single day that I wake up, I feel ugly. I guess from an unbiased standpoint, I really don’t look that bad, and these emotional histrionics are entirely uncalled for. At least that’s what your: therapist, mother, husband, partner, friends, and your own good common sense tell you.

You know better don’t you? When you look in the mirror, you always see the little bit here and there that’s keeping you from complete perfection. For me, it’s existing in a world of beautiful, confident, silken haired, slender, blue-eyed, white women. I know this seems absurd, but I’ve always existed in a social circle where almost all of my friends are white, and I can therefore see with my own dark, sad eyes, and all the ways that they are beautiful and I am not.

Luckily for me, growing up, I didn’t have any major weight concerns, I wasn’t rail thin, but I had what I’d like to think was a nice body. I ate what I wanted, and never really paid that much attention to calorie counts and blah, blah, diet, blah. However, as is often the case, I was a fat girl waiting to happen. After my freshman year of college, I literally ballooned. At 5′2″ I probably went from a curvy 125 pounds, to a plain old round 153 pounds. It was immediately commented on by all who knew me when I returned home, and thus began my obsession with weight.

I eloped when I was nineteen to a great guy, and moved to Maine, away from my family, and away from the people who knew how I used to look. In Maine I would start over. I wouldn’t be the fat girl who was once thin—a study of weakness and indulgence. I would instead be the fat girl, who overcame and revealed herself to be a knock-out. What actually happened was, by the time we moved from Maine, eight months later, I was ten pounds heavier and miserable. At this time, I discovered salvation. I discovered laxatives.

I’ve never been able to say the word “bulimic,” it seems so glamorous a title that I don’t feel I’m worthy of the sympathy it engenders. Nevertheless, laxatives became, and I’m sorry to say still are my cure all pill. Though I wasn’t getting any skinnier, I could purge myself of all the mistakes, food related and otherwise that I had made that day. I quickly became addicted, and though I’m able to stop for short periods of time, the urge is never far away.

It’s been four years, and I sometimes have to take over 200 a week for the desired effect. I’ll spend hours in my bathroom curled in the fetal position as cramps shoot through my stomach—my punishment for having been so weak as to eat in the first place. My husband finds my stashes and throws them away in a rage, not understanding that I plan my days around my bathroom breaks. I know when I wake up if I’m going to use, and then the whole purpose of my day revolves around eating as much as I can, and then the ceremony of getting it out. It is the most humiliating thing I have ever put myself through, but I can’t stop. Even when I’m sore and bleeding from the rough tissue paper I’m planning when I can do it again. My biggest fear is that one day I’ll go too far, and really hurt myself, but even that doesn’t stop me. I don’t know what this sick obsession is doing to my insides, all I know is that it has all but ruined my spirit and the way I see myself.


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