Chinese Food

TRIGGER WARNING | This post includes triggering content and sensitive detail for those who may or may not suffer from disordered eating or cope with mental health disorders.

We cope with stress differently. The body kicks into fight-or-flight mode, and sometimes we let it decide our plan before our mind has any time to catch up.
Like the impulse
Impulsivity nails me to a wall and mocks me for being so naïve to her repeated ways. She shows up in Martha and intrudes on each of my relationships.

It was 11 AM and I skipped classes to be with Martha. It became a thing that year to skip class or events to be with her because she understood it far better than anyone else did.
I realize while reading this, it makes you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable too. And, it made the people in my life uncomfortable for years.
Think hard about it, how do you casually approach a friend, a daughter, a mother, whomever about their purging? How do you not offend them without setting off the demon that lives within him or her at that time?
You cannot.
The feeling of discomfort disrupts the impulse to stop the bad thing from happening.
And, eventually, maybe walls break down and we can talk about the thing, the issue, the wall that your demons set up months, or years, or whatever it is prior. But, until then things have to be uncomfortable before they get comfy.
So, let me make you uncomfortable.
It is my senior year at Belmont and I skipped class to spend time with Martha. You know the feeling you get when you neglect a friend intentionally, then all of a sudden a rush of guilt overwhelms you, causing every muscle in your body to react and reach out?
Well, there you have it.
The nagging got to be too much and recovery was making more progress in my life than Martha and I cared to admit. We got overwhelmed. We got confused.
My roommate had left at 7 AM for clinical and would not be home until 7 PM. Martha and I could hide here while no one was around.
So, we hid.
And, ate.
Then, we drank.
Martha and I ordered Chinese food at 11 AM on a Friday. Crab rangoon, vegetable lo mein, pork fried rice, chicken fingers, and spare pork ribs – guarantee the delivery man expected the sight of four college girls cramming for a college exam, not one malnourished skeleton pacing in her lifeless apartment.
Martha thanked the man for delivering my food, but internally I screamed for help. I watched as she set the table in front of the couch for one, then poured herself a glass of wine so she could sit back and cheer. I watched as she unwrapped the grease-stained Chinese food boxes from the paper bag, oohing and aahing at the food. I watched her load my plate with a serving size for two.
Then I watched her do it again 20 minutes later.
And, again 40 minutes later.
2 hours later it was all gone.
And by gone, I mean no longer in the grease-stained boxes or my stomach.
Eradicated.
Poof.
Martha had a method to her madness. Her cheers shouted persuasive notes of encouragement, slowly adopting elements of fear, as if to say, if you do not do this, you lose me.
“You got this, Meg!”
“Meg, we are going to win this!”
“Meg, think about the results!”
“No guilt, Meg, just you and me!”
“Meg now is the time, do not miss your shot. Do not miss it.”
Getting up from the couch, lights in the apartment drawn to a low and episodes of Gilmore Girls playing in the background, Martha ran her fingers through the muscles on my shoulders. She had this thing about shoulders. It got her going, it put her in the mood to pull the trigger and stick her fingers down my throat.
That day, she was in the mood to do it in the dark. Maybe it was the ounce of shame she felt when she realized she was doing this to me at 11 AM on a Friday, or perhaps the realization that moments like this were coming fewer and farther in-between.
The realization that she was now a relapse, a hook-up, an in-between.
I have a feeling that is what drove her to push me so hard that day. Once we were in the bathroom her cheers took a sharp turn toward demands, screaming at me every chance she could, trying to pull me permanently back into her world.
I screamed into the toilet, angry with her, and angry with myself.
Anger, a beautiful, wonderful, and frightening thing.
Something I had not allowed myself the capacity to feel for ages.
I screamed and she pushed. The argument played out like a script, that being, her queue to speak was when she stuck her fingers down my throat, and my queue was to bite back and scream no.
I screamed no because I wanted more. I screamed no because everything Martha had me doing felt so good. It felt good enough to dump the thousands of dollars my parents were pouring into my recovery down the toilet along with some pork fried rice and lo mein noodles.
We went on for hours until the Chinese food was gone.
I did not win that day, but I did not lose. Setbacks put us on the right track, they make us whole in a way that is both new to the mind, body, and soul. We gain perspective and we lose a sense of narrow-minded perception we once had before.
With Martha, I am to understand one thing, be nothing but a size two.
With Meg, I am to understand beauty is transformative. It is the way you carry yourself walking down the street and the behavior to which you speak to others. Beauty is the hug you give your best friend after coming out of a spell you have been under for years, only to find their love has been there, waiting for you all along.
Beauty is the ability to say no to your demons and yes to your true self.

What She Does Not See

She has this way about her. They gravitate toward her. Maybe it is intentional on her end, maybe she is blind to it. 

Looking at her now, I think she is blind in it. She is so lost within herself, I don’t think she notices the outside world’s reaction to her living presence anymore. 

I see her talking to this shadow lurking behind her. 

She looks better now. 

Not the same as before and not where she should be. But, better. 

Whether she notices it or not, we notice her. 

We see her smile from ear to ear when Drew runs over and scoops her up, Alex and Cam following suit. 

The girls and I hang back, smile, and run over to her after the boys find it in them to let go of her.

Each one of them.

She’s always been a boy’s girl. I used to think she wanted the attention.

I still do.

But still, I run over and hug her. I celebrate her being here. 

Here in the apartment, yes, but really, I celebrated her being here, on Earth.

She is small. But, she is here. 

Her voice booms the way it used to. The last time I saw her, her voice shook. 

4 months ago.

The last time I saw her was four months ago and I hadn’t seen her since. She disappeared.

Some say rehab, others say drugs. Looking at her in the entryway of Andrew’s apartment I think if I asked her where she has been the past four months she would say “I don’t know.”

“Finding myself,” maybe. 

Now she is here, though. 

Different.

And, still the center of attention.

Let Her Speak

The featured photo on this post is a photo of Martha and I – a photo of her and I together, inseparable.

Common decency? Not a thing in Martha’s book. Never has been, never will be. 

“Hey Meg, schedule a panic attack, binge and purge session, and three days of restriction to follow for next week. You fell behind last week with three cheat meals and two missed workouts. Okay?” Martha asked. 

Bitch wouldn’t even wait three seconds for me to answer. 

“You are killing it, Meg,” she followed up. 

And by it, she means me. 

I was killing me. 

What do you think about when you want to kill your worst enemy? 

Do you think about walking into their house and shooting them point-blank? Do you think about following their car down a dirt road and ramming into them harder than the head-on collision in the poorly recreated Footloose movie? Or, maybe you’ve got that creative mind that takes it back to the 1700s and you watch them drown, from afar tied to a wooden post in the middle of a lake. 

Which is it? 

How would you kill?

Martha chooses to drown her worst enemy. 

I’ll let her explain.

*

I wait for her eyes to seek me out, make me feel wanted. We lie looking at each other, my eyes analyzing her body, her eyes gazing up and down mine. I reach for her waist and let my hands fall to Meg’s hip bones. Traveling side to side, I let my hands glide up her waistline into the curvature of her collarbone. Meg arches her back inhaling and eventually sinking into the bed. Her exhale is slow, and breaths delayed. She looks at me, waiting for my hand to cross her body into a threshold of acceptance. 

I pause. 

I pull back. 

“Please,” she begs.

I retrace my steps, starting with her hip bone, following her waistline, and onto her collarbone. 

“No,” I whisper. 

“Please,” she is desperate. “Go slower this time.”

“Slower,” I whisper. “Okay.”

Once more, she turns me on while I pray to her needs.

“Okay.” I sing into her ear. 

The crease in her brow eases and her body releases tension better than any orgasm I have seen her experience in months. “Okay,” Meg repeats back to me. 

*

“Get dressed, Meg,” I tell her. 

She jumps out of bed, jubilant and jolly. Springing to the shower and leaping toward the walk-in closet. She bounces in front of me to Niall Horan’s Slow Hands, retracing the lines I drew on her minutes before.

“You love it when I trace you like that, don’t you?” I ask.

She doesn’t answer. 

Meg learned early on, no reply is the best reply. 

“Meg. Please, go get dressed,” I whisper. 

A song and a half later, she opens her closet door and steps out in an over-sized blue crewneck sweater and leggings. 

“No,” I whisper in her ear. “Do better.”

Two minutes later, I watched my girl walk out in the Lululemon leggings that hold her ass just right and compress those boobs her mom passed onto her just enough. 

She searches for the same acceptance she sought earlier in the morning, looking for some sort of approval I was supposed to give. 

“Meg, why are you looking at me?” I asked. “I am a direct representation of you.”

Meg shook her head, apologizing profusely.

“I didn’t mean it that way,” she cried. “I’m sorry.”

Damnit, Meg. She pulls this shit, plays the victim, and looks at me with tears in her eyes. I know she talks about me with others. I see her carry that damn red journal around with the tack Jane Austen quote on its cover. Lately, she confides more in the journal and less in me. Bullshit. 

She looked up one more time, searching for forgiveness.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured. 

I won. 

You see, when Meg woke up earlier that morning, there was a moment where my hands paused somewhere below her bellybutton and between her hipbones. I felt the inconsistency. 

We both did. 

Typically, Meg lets her hands sit atop of mine on those early morning rendezvous, but that morning, she shied away. She faked it. It’s that therapy thing she is doing. She is letting them fill her head with lies. 

She was ashamed this morning.

She failed me.  We both knew it. 

She knew the punishment. 

When she went into the closet earlier that morning and threw on the oversized sweatshirt and leggings, it was not an act of defying her size, or that bullshit body acceptance her friends tried to preach to her. 

It was shame for gaining. 

It was shame for growing. 

Meg was failing me.