Monday, November 16, 2009

Meat, Flesh, Bag of Bones

Excerpt from my book up ahead. It's in a very different writing style, but since it sounds all "present tense" and I'm not presently starving myself, I thought I'd get that clearly stated from the outset.

Warning: This post contains glamorizations of eating disorders (which will be destroyed later in the book). If you believe reading this may trigger unhealthy thoughts or actions in your life, please refrain from reading and enjoy a post from the archives to the right instead. Have a safe and healthy day.

I'm feeling hungry now, but it's a detached thing - far away. I can sit back and clinically observe how the acid makes a pinched feeling here, or how it bubbles there. It doesn't seem natural to me that I should eat something at this point - I can make the bubbles go away without resorting to that. A tums, a teaspoon of toothpaste, or baking soda from the box in the fridge - any one of those will make the bubbles go away if I want them to, but I don't really want them to. On some level, some part of me realizes that I am killing myself. I am eating away at my own flesh, like some kind of masturbatory cannibalism. On another level, I am disassociated from my flesh, my meat, my bag of bones, and the detached, out-of-body, accutely analytical thinking in my head isn't touched by the pain in my belly. The pain is merely a reminder, "Most people eat" not an injunction that I should eat myself (or rather I, myself, should eat. I'm eating myself right now.)

The spiritual and religious go on fasts to feel closer to god, and there are known nuerological reactions to food depirvation. I suppose for me, it's more about what I don't feel than what I do. Numb is a kind of solace after pain. There is a certain muzzy clarity that seems to come after long enough without food. Lines are sharper, lights are brighter, cold is so much colder. Yet all that is part of the meat, the flesh, the bag of bones I carry around with me. None of it touches me, the ephimeral bodiless entity of the brain. I feel as if one strong gust of wind could pick me up and take me far, far, far away from here and all my troubles. If I am weightless, maybe I'll be free.

The granwing sensation in my belly, of acid teeth on weak flesh, ebbs and flows in nearly rhythmic contractions of the stomach lining. I feel it, but it doesn't feel like pain, only like some sharper kind of pleasure. An acid belch rises in my chest, and my heart burns with bile. Maybe I had too many energy drinks today. I'll have to find some toothpaste or a tums, quickly. I scour through my purse, empty soda straw wrappers and a crushed pack of cigarettes, a tin of mints and a water bottle, a diary full of someone else's words. Pieces of gum coming out of their paper robes, sullied by loose tobacco in the lining of my purse. Damn. No tums or toothpaste.

I stand up - I have my body back now, and the meat, the flesh, the bag of bones wants my attention. My cocyx is sore from sitting on the stone bench outside one of my university classes for too long, smoking too many menthol cigarettes and pretending I'm not human. I pull the layers of sweaters I'm wearing closer to my skin, my flesh, my bag of bones. There's a pinprick of pain stabbing right behind my eyes, and for a moment everything swims in my vision, while I wait for my flesh to adjust to the shock of standing up again. I put out my cigarette, pick up the cold metal can of an energy drink, in my cold bony hands, and walk towards my next class. On the way, I stop at a vending machine and buy a Milky Way. I hadn't meant to do that - It just happened. I was only planning to buy some peanuts or crackers or something somewhat healthy, but as if on autopilot, my fingers fumbled the coins into the slot and pushed the code for a rush of sugar. The sloshing acid in my chest is still burning, and I'm shivering against a cold no one else seems to feel.

I'm so unbeleivably tired and yet uncomfortably energetic. No rest for the wicked. There's too much to do, and it's never really safe to sleep. As I approach the social science building, I am winded. I put my hand to my chest and feel the drumbeat pulse of my overworked heart. The tempo is far too fast, but this is not unusual. There are always problems with the meat. The flesh is weak and the bag on these bones is still too large. I have another twenty minutes before class starts. I duck into a computer lab, and log onto my Livejournal. There I enter the safe and welcoming world of my proanorexic sisters and brothers. They're cold, too. Their hearts are burning and beating too fast, just like mine. And they know the rush and high and thrill starvation can bring. Most of them have fasted for longer than I have; some have never fasted at all. Whether they've used diet pills, energy drinks, laxatives, purgatives, exercise, thinspiration or reverse thinspiration, they understand my quest for something pure. A body unmarred by curve or dimple; a plate, white and clean, untouched by something so lowly and mortal as food. They understand why I despise this meat, this flesh, this pathetic bag of bones. They know just what it feels like to have a voice in the back of their head telling them it will never,ever, ever be good enough. They know the release that comes from believing that voice, the letting-go feeling when you stop trying to fight your insecurities and simply embrace them. They feel my pain. Before I met them, I didn't even know how to confess I felt any.

My grandmother taught that there were worlds or realms - the spirit realm and the flesh realm. Flesh was always bad. I can't help feeling like that has to mean something in the origin of my eating disorder. Starving was a way of making myself less about my body - that evil, human, sinful natured, Adam and Eve descended, recently molested and victimized body - and more about my thoughts, and the voices in my head. After all, that's what I was taught to do.

Fortune cookie I just opened from last night's Chinese take-out:

"You constantly struggle for self-improvement." Heh, coincidence and one-size-fits-all platitudes. In the old days, I would have thought God was communicating with me through deserts.