Julie Greene knows exactly what's wrong with the world: Dysmorphia…so she taught Jesus to knit: True Story from Inpatient Eating Disorders Treatment

They say God (whoever or whatever that is) fashioned us after whatever was in the bathroom mirror that day, that is, “God’s image,” right?  Let’s say for a minute that this is true.  Those of you who know, or assume that this is hogwash just hold on.

We aren’t all that happy with our bodies.   There is this idea of this “ideal body” and many people see that their body isn’t this ideal, so they strive for this ideal instead.

But in reality, when they got the surveys out, they found that many people who were, say, normal weight, felt that they were overweight.  These people didn’t necessarily have eating disorders.  They were just unsatisfied with their weight.

This is a form of body dysmorphia.  People with anorexia nervosa also have this body dysmorphia, and in this case, it tends to be more pronounced.

There is also a separate illness called body dysmorphia in which the person obsesses on a part or parts of the body and feels extreme dissatisfaction with these parts.  The person does not perceive his or her body correctly.  It is as if the mirror is lying.

Some are dissatisfied to the point of self-destructive acts such as starvation, or a more subtle form may be called “diet” or “meal plan.”  There are other behaviors as well.

Then, there is dissatisfaction with the mind.  Perhaps we have this idea of the “ideal mind.”  There are many people that are clearly great people in history that we might want to be like.  Problem is, we can’t measure these minds with a measuring tape.

So there are a bunch of industries set up that set out to help us figure out how to make our minds more like this ideal toward which we strive.  The first step is to convince us that something is wrong with our minds.  So the mental health industry made up these illnesses.  They made up a few biggies, and captured some people into their net.  When they saw that they hadn’t captured enough people, they made up more illnesses.  So now everyone gets an illness and everyone has something “wrong” with their mind that needs to be fixed.

And the self-help industry does the exact same thing.  Everything is wrong with us and everything, every defect, needs to be fixed.  We need to strive to the ideal.

Probably many people suffer from mind dysmorphia as a result of this craze.

I’m guessing that most people don’t perceive their own minds accurately, anyway.  How can they, with no measuring tape, and limited maturity?  It is easy to be swayed.

If we were made in God’s image, then of course God suffered from both body and mind dysmorphia, just like us.  And if this was the case, this metaphorical mirror may have in fact lied.

Yes, in God’s skewed image.


God should have gone to therapy, but I suppose with all the controversy over whether God even exists, how would God get insurance coverage?  Isn’t God a little too old for this?

I suppose someone should send the police and arrange for God to get put away for a good long time.  “Our Father, who art in locked up in Heaven…”

But I suppose if Heaven is anything like the locked eating disorders unit where I was at, there aren’t any mirrors there.  No negative self-talk allowed.  Let’s monitor God’s activity in the bathroom. Let’s check the toilet every time God uses it, before God flushes away our sins.  Hell on Earth Amen.

God would have come out of there pretty fucked up anyway.

I mean, no one even knows what God’s name is.  When I went to Hebrew school, we learned zillions of Hebrew words for God.  And then I found out that a bunch of other people used this name Jesus Christ for God.  I didn’t learn this one in Hebrew school and we weren’t allowed to say this name in my house growing up.

So what would God have written for a name when God signed in to the eating disorders unit?  If he is Jesus, well, then, he’s a guy, and there aren’t too many guys on the unit.  Jesus’ last name wasn’t even Christ, for Christ’s sake.  I wouldn’t have to worry about being the oldest one there.

When I was at Alcott in March 2010, they still allowed knitting there.  They don’t allow knitting on the unit anymore.  I think I’d like to teach Jesus to knit.  You figure, with all that running around preaching and healing, he probably never had the chance to learn.

Undoubtedly they’ve forced a feeding tube into him.  Back then, they had those things running during the daytime as well as at night, so we had to push those poles around with us.  His pole is attached to a wheelchair and the feeding tube pump is affixed to the pole.  The pump clicks at regular intervals.  We all know this click.  It is the sound of this place.  The feeding tube is a narrow filament of tube that comes out of one of his nostrils and bends upward, and is then taped to one cheek, is draped around his ear, and left to hang, where it is after a number of feet attached to the pump.  The tube goes up Jesus’ nostril, into his throat, past his larynx, down his esophagus, all of it, and into his stomach.  Above the pump is a sack.  The nurses control what goes into the sack.

They might have Jesus in a wheelchair because he is really, really old and can’t walk anymore.  On the other hand, his blood pressure might be wicked low and maybe they’re worried that if he tries to stand up, he’ll fall.  Or maybe they’re keeping him in the wheelchair to make sure he doesn’t cause trouble.

Jesus and I exchange a wink.  I am going to teach him knitting.  In exchange, he will teach me how to be a rebel.

It’s a little tough, cuz I found out a while back that Jesus doesn’t speak English.  Of course, the nurses haven’t bothered to respect his rights and even try to find a translator.  They don’t respect Jesus at all.  They don’t respect him cuz he’s old, and to them, old people don’t have real feelings, and don’t matter.  He’s poor, and they’ll probably have to make him a ward of the state.  There was some murmur of a church out there somewhere, but it sounded like the staff were clueless.  That plus being a guy on an eating disorders ward…it’s just plain sad cuz they ignore him and usually he’s been the only guy, no roommate or anything, just Jesus by himself.

I’ve wondered what he’s thinking, in the room all by himself.  I’ve walked by and peeked in.  Most of the time, he lies in bed with the pump clicking, and I guess he’s asleep but it’s a little hard to tell.  I don’t want to be nosy or anything.  The nurses never go in there and never talk to him.  He can’t watch TV cuz it’s all in English and the books are, too.  So my reasoning is that if Jesus could knit, he’d have something to do at least.

So I’ve got the needles.  I have some picked out especially for Jesus.  These are the best ones I could find, and real good yarn, too.  I cast on and knit a few rows myself to get him started, and passed him the needles.

He looks at me, and for the first time, I see his eyes.

They are a lot like my dad’s eyes.  My dad had twinkly eyes, but if you looked real close, there was this yellowness in them.  It wasn’t jaundice.  It was just there, like a reminder, but I don’t know what it was supposed to remind anyone of.  I am Ashkinazi Jew on both sides, from Eastern Europe.  The Jesus of Nazareth in the Bible isn’t Ashkinazi.  He’s Middle Eastern.

This Jesus at Alcott might not even be the same one, and it kind of doesn’t matter.  Eating disorders are cruel to everyone no matter what your race is or national origin.  Famous people get eating disorders.  We are hungry.  We are thirsty.  People view our bodies in wonderment.  Now you see us, now you don’t.

He nods at me.  He holds the needles, and with hesitation, puts the tip of one needle into the stitch on the other needle.  He looks back at me.  I nod.

With his free hand, he loops the hanging yarn around the needle he’s inserted.  And then he stops.

There is commotion in the room.  They are arguing over a TV program.  A girl grabs the remote and flips the station.  A young girl begins to cry and shake.  Another pops up, and then turns her face awkwardly to the side, reaches for the couch arm, and collapses to the floor.  The staff are there soon enough with a wheelchair.  They bring the crying girl out and soon, everyone is gone but Jesus and me and the TV.

I can see the TV, but it has been muted.  This is that bachelor show I saw once.  I never learned the name of the show, because I don’t own a TV.  The handsome young man is choosing his bride and she is crying.  The TV focuses on a gold ring.  I assume it’s gold cuz that’s the kind people use when they get married.  I can’t really tell, though.  The TV is at an angle to Jesus and me.  Mostly, we see light reflected off the TV screen surface.  We see no gold ring.

The radiator clicks.  Above the radiator is the window where the sun rises in the morning.  Across the room is the window where I can see the sun set.  We are on the fifth floor, but it’s hard to remember this sometimes.

Jesus holds the needle in the loop, with the yarn around the tip of the needle.  His lips are dry.  He swallows, looks down, then looks back at me.

I put my hands around his.  I hold them there for a minute.  Then, gently, I guide him.  I show his hands what to do with the needles and yarn.  I show him how to finish the stitch.

I’d like to think that he bent over and whispered to me, “That was pretty cool,” but he didn’t.  The vision ends there, with me and Jesus sitting there, my hands over his, the stitch completed.

Ah, defiance.

I’d like to think that Jesus pulled his feeding tube out, just like I did in the middle of the night in March 2010.  Whether or not it was a dumb idea to pull the tube out way back then really doesn’t matter now.  Jesus was old but you figure he could do whatever the hell he wanted.  And so can I.

I can do whatever the hell I want if I put my mind to it.  If I can make up a fantasy about Jesus in an eating disorder ward, then I must be really, really powerful.  I taught Jesus to knit and he taught me to be a rebel and here I am.

Feedback and comments welcome!