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When I Am Older I Will Not Diet, Ten Year Old Me I'm Sorry

31/03/2017 11:13
YinYang via Getty Images

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I am seven years old and I am asking for second helpings of dessert and I am asking for third helpings because numbers do not matter and I am hungry.

...

I am eight years old and I am having cold pizza for breakfast and then I am having tea because numbers do not matter to me and I am hungry.

...

I am nine years old and I am hungry and I am eating because food has no associations with things like numbers and clothing sizes and I am hungry.

...

I am ten years old and I am walking past the antique shop with the painting of a house on a hill besides the sea in the window and I have an ice cream cone in my hand with raspberry sauce because it tastes like summer.

...

I am fifteen years old and I have not eaten a proper meal in months and someone is crying again because I can't see that I'm slowly dying. I don't know what hunger is anymore. All I know is numbers, numbers and tape measures and sizes and measurements and scales and numbers and small smaller smallest.

...

I am fifteen and the doctor is sitting across from me and asking me questions that I am not ready to answer, telling me things I already know, asking me the same questions.

I lie.

I do not follow his instructions.

I do not listen to him.

I am consumed by numbers. I can tell you exactly what I have and haven't eaten but I cannot tell you why I am doing this to myself.

"You're supposed to be smart"

"Why are you doing this?"

...

I am ten years old and I am reading books about girls and boys who do not eat and I promise myself that when I am a teenager I will not be like them. I will not care about my weight.

...

I am fifteen and I am thinking I have let that girl down. I do not care. Why should I? I'm smaller than I have ever been, I'm happy right?

Wrong. So wrong. So so wrong.

People tell me I look good.

People do not know what happens behind closed doors. The lying and the deceit and the trickery. The crying over a slice of pizza, the refusing to sit next to someone for fear their weight will transfer onto mine, the crying and the screaming and the hours spent running up and down the stairs and the mornings and nights and days spent standing on a meaningless piece of plastic, hiding food, the binging, the going to the bathroom after eating, the lies and the crying and I am sixteen years old and I am not living.

I am ten years old and I am reading books about girls and boys who do not eat and I promise myself that when I am a teenager I will not be like them. I will not care about my weight.

...

I am sixteen years old and it's about so much more than weight. It is control. It is an addiction.

I am sixteen and I am dying.

I am sixteen years old and the painting is still there. So much has changed but the painting is still there. This time I do not have an ice cream cone. I do not eat raspberry sauce. Summer is over.

I am sixteen years old and I am sick.

...

I wish I could tell you about light bulb moment where it all changed. I wish I could tell you that because it'd make things seem so much more organised, so much tidier. But real life isn't tidy. It's messy and there are no light bulb moments. There are only bad days and lifting the spoon and sometimes good days and sometimes better days and sometimes there is being set free because you no longer let a number define yourself.

Losing weight does not improve negative body image.

I knew that. I knew it when I stopped eating and I knew it when I'd not so covertly sneak to the bathroom after every meal and I knew it when I became infatuated with seeing the number on a piece of plastic go down and I knew it when the questions piled onto me from concerned looking faces asking why why why?

Body image is something you hear about all the time. Never thought I'd say this, but it's all true. The only constant in your life is you. You're going to spend the rest of your life with yourself. Do you really want to spend it focusing on something that society has told you you need to be? Your body is fighting for you to survive. Even when you don't want it to. Even when you're criticising it for not being good enough.

You are enough.

You don't have to believe me.

Except, the thing is, a body is just that, carrying out its functions to the best of its abilities, the best way it knows how. It doesn't represent anything.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It also lies.

Skinny isn't synonymous with happy.

No one is going to break you free of your thoughts which is why you need to liberate yourself from the strangleholds of having to look a certain way.

I wish I could tell you it was easy.

I wish I could tell you that. But the reality is miles away from easy.

There were small flickers of light too. Barely noticeable but there nonetheless.

I am telling you that I was sixteen years old and I had lost so much.

I am telling you not to give up. Because it may take time, it may take all that you have within you but there will be moments of light.

Trust me. I've been there.

I am seventeen years old and the painting is gone. The owner has been dead for months and the new owners are repairing the building by tearing up the insides in order to make it habitable for the new residents.

Sometimes you have to do the same thing to your thoughts, your beliefs. Tear them up and replace them because they no longer serve a purpose. Changing the way you look at things.

We're all going to be like that man one day, it doesn't matter what we've done. Our bodies are going to get old and then they shall decay under the ground until they no longer remain.

It's what's inside that counts. I can barely remember what he looked like. All I remember is that he was kind and soft, always putting something into the back of his car and the way we'd play in his huge yard as children and he never once, not ever complained.

I think about that painting sometimes.

I think about how life goes on.

I think about how I am eating more than I ever have and I am happy.

I think about how I am seventeen years old and I am alive again.

Just scrap it. Stuff it. Stuff dieting and stuff society and stuff it all. Don't let human vanity be the death of you.

It's not worth it.

Image via Pexel
This article previously appeared in Invisible Illness
To contact the writer, click here

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