Now that I want to live, I ended up scheduling a routing mammogram for December 6th. I called and scheduled it just yesterday. I told my therapist that I had done this. We ended up getting into a discussion about mammograms. I think she “got it,” though. The mammogram was very overdue. I hadn’t bothered to go in because I figured I would die of anorexia well before I would die of breast cancer, anyway, so it would be senseless to get tested for it.
Now that I want to live, I have stocked up my freezer with meals for the month of November, National Novel Writing Month, when I won’t have much time to cook. I have written my outline the novel I am going to write. I can hardly wait for November to begin.
Now that I want to live, I am able to look back and remember that not long ago, I believed I would die before the year was up. I believed that I would either starve myself to death or die of some faster method of suicide. I realized that I would not be able to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I knew I was not getting enough nutrition to be able to concentrate well enough to write an entire book in a month.
For over a year, I constantly fought to avoid hospitalization. I’ll never forget the sinking feeling I had the first day I came onto the “unit,” seeing that it looked just like the psych units I’d been on. After that, I fought even harder against force-feeding. I lied and cheated to stay away from the hospital. And for that reason, I kept my appointments. I missed appointment meant a “pink paper” to the hospital.
Once, I asked my T what my prognosis was. She said, “Without treatment, you will die.” By the time August hit, I knew that no “treatment” would help me. And I was right.
Now that I want to live, I do certain things to make sure I stay living. The main difference is that I am no longer starving myself. This radical shift has not yet sunken in. I am so accustomed to planning out how I am going to starve myself, counting calories (very few of them), struggling to get up the energy to hide the fact that I am starving myself, and trying to keep from passing out. This took up an unbelievable amount of energy and time.
I guess I feel freed up now. Freed from deprivation. You know, the very first time I became anorexic in 1980, I lived in a tiny, cold apartment. I mean, really, really tiny and really, really cold. The landlord told me to tell him if it got too cold, and he would turn up the heat. I didn’t say a word. It got down to 50 degrees in there. I am not exaggerating. It’s damn cold in Vermont and that winter it was something like 20 below at night, maybe lower. All I had to do was to open the electric oven, and turn it on. It would have warmed up that tiny apartment in five minutes. I never did that. Nor did I say anything to the landlord until I saw the 50-degree mark. Then, I told him, meekly, “Could you turn up the heat a bit?” He had no clue.
Now that I want to live, I am freeing myself from deprivation. I am freeing myself from the requirement to be perfect. I am gaining weight. Not a lot, but a little bit at a time. I am freeing myself from the drive to be thinner and thinner, allowing myself to be visible once again.
I am not saying that I totally like this. I do not like gaining weight. I panic thinking about it. I panic thinking about coming up from under water and rising up above the surface…becoming visible. Who wouldn’t? You can actually breathe above water. Real air. You don’t have to hold your breath anymore. Imagine that.
You know, when they make Diet Coke, they force the bubbles into the water. They actually embed the bubbles into it so that the Diet Coke will be fizzy. The bubbles aren’t there naturally and they don’t want to be there. It takes great effort to get them there and keep them there. That’s why there’s a cap to the bottle and that’s why it has to be screwed on tightly.
Did you know that Diet Coke has a shelf life? Even without opening it, Diet Coke doesn’t actually last that long. Maybe six months before it–yeah, dies. Have you ever tasted Diet Coke after it went bad? You don’t want to. I mean, don’t. It’s nasty.
There’s only so long you can keep those bubbles in there. It takes an incredible amount of effort to keep them contained. If you stop the deprivation and open the bottle, the Diet Coke will soon enough lose its fizz. If you don’t open the bottle and just wait, the Diet Coke will eventually die.
To open the bottle, or not….You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this….
DRINK THE DAMN DIET COKE! IT’S DIET, AFTER ALL!
Because sitting here and contemplating a bottle of Diet Coke, and watching the fizz, or non-fizz, as the case may be, and not drinking it, is what I am talking about. Deprivation. How many times in the past six months did I cook huge meals, only to freeze the entire thing and not take a bite? Sometimes, I would cook several dishes in one night, and freeze them all. My freezer got very, very full.
And now, my freezer is very, very full, but for a different reason: preparation for the future. Not dying. Living. I plan to be alive and writing in November. I plan to be very, very busy. And I’ll have lots of food to keep me alive. It’s all in the freezer. Really.