I went to Tedeschi’s again to buy a 2-liter bottle of diet cola–their brand–99 cents plus five cents MA deposit–total $1.04. I brought with me–that’s right–a dollar bill and four pennies. I didn’t intend to buy anything else.
This embarrasses me. I go in there frequently, too frequently, to buy a 2-liter bottle of diet cola and nothing else. Well, why the heck does this skinny girl buy diet cola and nothing else? Does she drink diet cola instead of eating? What’s the scoop here? And why doesn’t she buy root beer, something with calories in it, for godsakes?
Yeah, I’m embarrassed. I try to hide my body. I calculate: If x employee was working at 11am today, will he still be working at 7pm, and see me buying yet another 2-liter bottle? Or will the shift have changed? I calculate: what is the likelihood of my running into a former neighbor at this hour? Once, former neighbors caught me hurriedly stashing not one but two 2-liter bottles of diet cola into my knapsack. I ask myself what they thought of me. Probably, nothing, my logical mind responds. But my ED mind is all over the place.
Yeah, this heavily reminds me of something: Binge Eating Disorder. BED, the days past, when I went to stores and bought cakes–Entenmanns, frequently, cookies, M&M’s, candy bars, cheesecakes, pies, everything, came home, and devoured it all at once. Sometimes, I had no choice, being a desperate pedestrian, to go to the same store several days in a row, and yes, I suspect the employees did indeed wonder what I was doing. At the city drug stores, and places where I didn’t go frequently, or at supermarkets, where I could be anonymous, no, they didn’t know, though always I worried that everybody–customers, cashiers, baggers, passers-by, everyone–knew my vile habit. But at the tiny convenience stores–yes, in hindsight, they knew. They knew exactly who I was.
As I sit here today and look back on that hell I went through, I wonder how I survived it all. I wonder how I made it from day to day, trying nonstop to avoid the next binge, the next trip to the store to buy foods I gorged myself on, the next nightmare stuffing the food into my mouth until my stomach was full and my throat would accept no more. I remember the shock I felt afterward at what I had done, the sheer horror of it, the shame and guilt and knowledge that I was Evil and that I had done and felt and seen and known something Evil and had been to Hell and deserved to stay right where I was.
Compared to this, my guilt over buying a 2-liter bottle of diet cola, and having people witness me doing this, seems minuscule. Yet the obsession I have about my weight, and about food and calories, and my drive to starve myself–these are powerful indeed. Someday, I hope, I will look back on this and either laugh or cry. Or maybe I’ll be relieved. Relieved that I don’t have to cross Main Street to stop at Tedeschi’s anymore for anything–junk food or diet cola–nothing at all.
Sometime in 2008 I crossed over an ED Main Street, and haven’t returned. I suspect I won’t cross back, because crossing the ED street is too scary, but maybe there’s a bridge somewhere, and I can somehow find it, or someone will show me the way. Maybe the bridge is a gentler, softer walk, back to the other side, back home again, back to the way I was before, back to me.
Is there a bridge? Will you show me the way? Will you guide me, take my hand, lead me to the entrance, up the incline, and down the other side? Will you help me be strong and brave and steady as I walk across? Is there such a bridge? Maybe not. But maybe, just maybe, there is.