Hi, everyone. It’s me, Emily.
I need a place to write and hopefully keep me from resorting back to bad habits. I had a major relapse yesterday with my eating disorder, which I’m trying to pinpoint where exactly did the triggering occur.
I suppose I should give my readers the major rundown of who I am, so if I ever “act crazy”, you’ll have an idea why.
I’ll be 29 this year, sitting on a senior status in college but no bachelor’s degree obtained. I ended a five year relationship with a narcissist about three months ago, my family dynamic is all fucked up and I clearly struggle with body image issues, addiction issues, social anxiety and depression. I’m…a trainwreck that walks around on two legs.
I didn’t grow up poor– my dad works in the oil industry and growing up in Houston, we weren’t concerned with money. However, my parents ceased to pay any attention to me and my siblings as they were out at cocktail parties or doing blow and getting wasted while our babysitter watched us. We would feast on microwaveable pizzas and all kinds of garbage for sustenance and sit in front of the television for hours either watching X-Men, Batman: The Animated Series or playing Nintendo.
I was always overweight as a child, even up to about 17 years old. It was almost as if my mother, a blonde, petite woman hailing originally from Sweden, wanted to keep me that way so she could have all the attention. I remember everyone always commenting on how gorgeous she was, while I just stood there with my disgusting, plump body feeling shame and lack of control.
My dad, hailing from Venezuela, was all about the “work hard play hard” scene. However, his playing hard started to get very violent at home. When I was four, I saw him drag my mother by her hair down the hallway. He cheated on her since before they were even married, and even on their wedding night from what my mother has told me. The shitty thing is, she never left him. She let him do this to her for 22 years, because financial security is more important than anything. This paved a really fucked up mindset for my future relationships.
If it hadn’t been for my brother who is two years older than me, I don’t know what I would have done. I think we both had a mutual understanding that we were going to have to get through this with each other. I never had homework help from my parents–I learned everything on my own. I was an honor student, a straight A student…I even won first place in a contest sponsored by Minute Maid for writing about the Carmen opera. SO. MUCH. JUICE.
It just seemed that it was never enough. I was really good at drawing from early on as well, but when I was in high school and told my parents I wanted to pursue that as my career, they snubbed me and told me it wasn’t a financially stable career. That’s around the time I stopped putting any effort into my work and tried to convince myself that I wanted to pursue psychology instead.
At this point, I was a fat geek with hardly any friends who enjoyed playing videogames, metal and punk rock music (thanks older bros), reading comics with my older half-brother and keeping to myself. I lived through every other media to make up for the life I didn’t think I would ever get; being popular and skinny with a boyfriend and lots of girl friends who were also the same.
After going to a very small middle school (maybe 300 people tops from 6-8th grade), I decided I wanted to go to the public school near my house. I wanted to be normal, and of course with my grade reputation, it wouldn’t be hard to excel academically. Well, I chose to give up the path of straight A’s and in return chose to get high all of the time among other things. I still managed to keep my grades up, but as I continued along this path, I started getting B’s during my junior year of high school. That was a big deal for me, but I was also so fucked up by then that I learned to let it go.
I was drinking, smoking like a chimney, smoking weed before and after school every day and eventually got hooked on ecstasy. At first, I told myself I’d only do it once a month; then it became once a weekend; then it became twice a weekend; then whenever I got it, I would just do it. I just wanted to feel happy, despite being uglier than everyone and unpopular and unwanted. I wanted to not feel alone while surrounded by everyone who had everything I wanted. I was the comic relief; the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. (DUFF)
I had my first kiss in this abandoned lot where we would all drink and smoke and get fucked up. It was with this guy I had learned how to skateboard with, who was nice to me and we liked the same music and junk. I had gotten my lip pierced a few months ago (I liked AFI in their punk rock heyday, ok?!). We were all slightly drunk and he sorta used the “I’ve never kissed anyone with a lip ring” line as an excuse to kiss me but I allowed it because I was ugly and I really wanted to know what it was like. It was pretty neat, because I wasn’t that drunk, so I got to remember it. Funny thing is, that guy became my boyfriend like three years later. ANYWAY
Ecstasy started to lose its effect, so I turned towards cocaine. I was so against it for the longest time after seeing my parents hooked on it, but I quickly got over that once I did a huge rail on my 15th birthday. Thus, began my downward spiral, and I was doing eight balls before school, selling everything I could, stealing and selling, etc. It took my brother to get me to snap out of it. Once sophomore year of school ended, I shut off my phone and stayed in the entire summer getting clean. Thank you, Ocarina of Time on N64. That’s all I played to keep my mind off of drugs and also, Zelda is fucking awesome.
Come back for junior year, clean from hard drugs and because I had turned 16, I got my first job and started mindfully eating now that I could buy my own groceries. I shed some of that unwanted weight and started getting more attention for my newfound confidence. I started talking to this guy, let’s call him, Joseph. Joseph was this little metalhead skateboarder who also played videogames and was super cute and asked me out and of course I flocked towards him immediately because again, I thought this was my only shot.
What I didn’t realize was wow, guys are shitheads. I dated this guy for a year but it was the worst year of my life. He was a compulsive liar–cheated on me countless times, got me to skip school for HALF a semester (I was the one with the car and the money). He wouldn’t let me hang out with my friends. He raped me. (Rape, by the way, is nonconsensual sex. I did not give him consent to have sex with me all of the time, and would say no) He hit me a lot, even in front of his dad. But I saw the way my dad treated my mom, and no guy this cute was ever going to love me so I should put up with it. I even drove this guy to a girl’s house where he proceeded to cheat on me (he said they were just friends and I stupidly trusted him).
It wasn’t until first kiss guy, which we will call Adam, started chatting with me online. He mentioned remembering that we kissed, and it made me remember how nice he was. I eventually broke up with Joey, and Adam had been duped by his crazy ex-girlfriend, so we started getting together. I think we hung out for like a month before even kissing. I liked that.
Stupid me, though, thought I could be friends with Joey, because that’s what he said he wanted. I ended up falling asleep watching a baseball game at his place and he had taken my phone and went through it. First of all, there weren’t any explicit texts; not even from Adam. He was just mad seeing another guy’s name in my phone. He kicked me awake, told me to get the fuck out, so I tried to. Then he blocked the door and wouldn’t let me leave. He pushed me onto his bed, started hitting me. His meth head mom comes in and just watched the whole thing happen. I was screaming at her to get help but I think she was so fucked up that she didn’t want to draw attention if she had to call the cops. I ended up kicking him off of me, running to my car with him tailing me. I almost made it in but he leaped on top of me in the car and tried to choke me. I had a really sharp utensil on my keychain and used it to puncture him in the stomach and he got off of me. I slammed my door shut and locked it. Right before I could turn on the car and speed away, he took out a knife, cut his hand open and let it bleed on my window. I was mortified. That was the last time I had seen him.
Things with Adam were way different. He never abused me. He was gentle, and funny and smart and didn’t control me in the slightest. He was sad to see so many bruises on me and would frown because I flinched when people touched me, including him. The flinching subsided after a few months with him. I thought I had the greatest guy in the world, and my way of reciprocating that was by giving everything to him–food, rides, clothes, novelty items, my time and my body. I thought this is what you were supposed to do. Things seemed to be going great but then after a year, he dumped me. I was “smothering him”. I felt stupid and angry and I loved him so much that I forced myself to be friends with him, which meant sleeping with him whenever he wanted and me never moving on.
At the time, my dad had just bailed on me and my family after lying about paying the mortgage on time for the past TWO YEARS. He was on a business trip conveniently when we got the large pink piece of mail about foreclosure. I dropped out of my first semester of college and worked two full time jobs to help my mom save our house. I eventually helped pay for her divorce as well. This all escalated me to move to Sweden and stay with my aunt for a few months, just to see what was out there, but I was running away from my problems and ended up returning to the U.S. I was 19 at the time; I didn’t know what to do.
Got back, landed a full time job which I thought would promote me from within but it never did. It was mundane but stable. I never saved so much money in my life. I had quit drinking completely and just became a pothead who never went out. I dropped to about 91 lbs in two months because I thought I was being “ultra” healthy. I was eating throughout the day, but maybe no more than 500 calories a day. I was convinced that it was me cutting out alcohol, and because I was still eating, I wasn’t anorexic. I was very wrong.
This lifestyle didn’t last for more than a year. My body ultimately started telling me it was hungry. I can pinpoint the exact moment; I was at a baby shower and there was a bunch of snacks there. This was probably my first outing in my “healthy year” and I saw a lot of lady friends and got to catch up and I was excited/anxious. I ate a ton of food, or at least enough that my body could not handle after being deprived for so long. I felt so sick on my drive home that as soon as I arrived to my house, I made myself throw up and I felt a lot better. Unfortunately, I took this as, oh, now I can eat and still stay skinny.
The weight crept back on, so I just kept throwing up and working out obsessively. I shot back up to maybe 115-120 lbs and I hated myself. It became this vicious cycle and I eventually told my parents. They put me in therapy, but the therapist just threw me some anti-depressants and called it a day. I tried to explain to my parents that I would just gorge and throw up food, and to be considerate of what food would be in the house. It’s so hard to explain how an eating disorder works to those who have never had one or dealt with a victim before.
They never changed anything and I eventually decided to move to Austin to go back to school and see if a change in scenery would help. I only knew a couple of people when I moved there, and I had my own place. The solo living only heightened my disorder and I remember just staying in for days, ordering whatever food I could and throwing it all up. I would go on week long benders, but then tell myself I can’t do this and get back on track, but then fucking it up again.
I met some of my best friends in Austin at ACC. I panicked to find a major that I would enjoy so I chose videogame design, which was a degree program offered there. My first class, which was an intro class, was the first time I felt sort of at home. I was surrounded by a bunch of fellow nerds, and it was flattering to get the attention I used to never get for most of my life. I was hot, into geeky things and I was no longer afraid to start conversations. I remember ice breaking it with everyone by bringing these awesome game related candies to give to everyone. I arranged a study group, although only a fourth of the class ever attended. Most of the group became my tribe. Study group sessions were a thing I could look forward to. I had finally found real friends, and those nights saved me from staying holed up with my head in the toilet.
There was a period of time during my semester that I went on a bender. My teacher noticed– I was quiet, unresponsive and emotionless. I am a very expressive person, so it’s really easy to tell when something is bothering me or I am hurting. This is a gift and a curse, I suppose. I pretty much don’t bother with lying because I can’t even look the part. Anyway, my teacher, who I pretty much consider my father at this point, reached out to me and I felt comfortable telling him about my disorder. He was the first one to give me sound advice, to check up on me and encouraged me when I wanted to check myself in to a treatment center in Austin.
My parents went with me, still in disbelief this had been continuing. I remember getting there and feeling at ease with the staff. I felt good about it, and I was excited to end a dark chapter of my life and get on the road to recovery. Without considering how unhealthy of a relationship with food and diet my parents were, we followed up the treatment center visit with lunch. My mom chose to eat like, half of a salad because, and this is straight from her mouth, she “didn’t want to get fat”. My dad gorged and smacked his mouth with like the greasiest, cheesiest burger. I just couldn’t handle it. Like…DO YOU GUYS KNOW WHY I AM STRUGGLING WITH FOOD? FUCKING CHRIST.
Forward to treatment; I started with being there for 12 hours every day. All my meals were pretty much eaten there, I wasn’t allowed to exercise, I would get bloodwork done, and I would have extensive meetings with a nutritionist, psychologist, psychiatrist and would also be in group with the other patients. It was a lifechanging experience, and I grew a lot from it because I wanted to recover. I had no problem downing a protein shake to get me the nutrients I needed. I didn’t have a problem being open and honest, because secrecy is a large part of what keeps a disorder alive. I eventually got down to going in part time and successfully eating at home on my own, then eventually curtsied out towards the end of the summer in time to start school again in the fall.
I was at my highest weight in a while, but I was happy. I think I was around the 130s, which was probably a bit overweight for my height but I was HEALTHY. I was confident, I went out with my friends and I did my best to voice if I was ever uncomfortable in any situation. I was visiting Houston and my brothers and friends at my local hang out bar when I noticed this guy (let’s call him Gregory) who was super cute and by himself and me being filled with liquid courage, I went up to him and flirted with him. He was kind and cordial but my brother quickly pulled me away because he knew that guy and thought he had a girlfriend at the time. I saw this guy again a weekend or two later when I had drove to my hometown, and we hit it off pretty immediately. He was single, he liked comics and metal, and we madeout like crazy. He was my first one night stand; I honestly didn’t think I was going to see him again because he said he was moving to New York for a promotion in like two weeks, so we kept it casual. Except then we started hanging out every day until he left, and I developed strong feelings when I told myself I wasn’t going to.
The day that he left, I started looking at flights. I had been to New York plenty as a child (my parents would take me at least once a year if not twice for the holidays). I had done the touristy garbage. I wanted to go as an adult and see Gregory there. During his time in New York and my time in Texas, we talked on the phone every day. This was no longer a casual thing. I was still able to do my own thing, but have this great connection with someone, and I was finally mentally and physically healthier and convinced I could do it all.
I decided to move to New York in June of 2012, making up excuses that it was to get out of Texas and go to a good school for, oh, what did I decide on now, Marketing? Blegh. No, it was pretty much to be with this guy and at the time I didn’t realize that I was relying on this move and him to change my life. I’m not saying being in New York didn’t change me; it has, very much so, but I didn’t move here for myself.
The honeymoon phase lasted for a few years, but not without heavy bumps in the road. I was homesick; I didn’t know anyone except for him, and everything is so fast paced and I had to go back to waiting tables here and people are mean and blah blah blah. I am, or was, a sensitive person at the time upon arrival, but this city hardened me up real quick. I had some great times going to fantastic shows because Gregory is in the concert/event industry, which I eventually got into because of him. I have been handling artist hospitality for about 4 years now, with some merchandise experience on the side.
ANYWAY– Gregory was great, or so I thought. He drank daily, something I naturally wanted to keep up with, but I clearly couldn’t handle it as I aged and wanted to grow and better myself. I started getting uncomfortable with my body. I didn’t realize how little Gregory revealed to me on a personal level. I clearly have a lot of fucked up things that attribute to my actions, reactions, behaviors,etc, and if I’m going to be serious with this guy, he should know those things. I felt I could trust him completely. At first, he seemed okay and understanding. But then when things started to become a more present issue and I wanted to talk about it, he became absent. It was always “But I’m about to go to work” or “I’m at work and busy” or “I just got out of work” or “It’s my day off, are you seriously gonna do this now?” so I just ended up giving up on communicating. He was never vocal about his feelings, and even told me he just doesn’t talk about things like that. I suppose that would explain the drinking, to mask whatever he felt. Once communication was a dud, the eating disorder began again, as I had nobody or anything else to cope with.
I started school at Brooklyn College for film production in 2014. I liked it, but started realizing they weren’t going to offer the courses I wanted to take. It helped me realize how much I actually wanted to get into music supervision, which I didn’t even realize was a thing! Even as a kid, I always wanted to pick the songs for soundtracks and my constant scouring for music and tying it with my emotions made me feel like that would be a job I could possibly thrive in and that I would want to thrive in. I didn’t think it was a real thing until recent, which is why I’m trying to figure out now how to network and finally learn about it.
ANYWAY. School gives me anxiety. A lot of it. Especially trying to go back in your mid twenties, surrounded by judgemental eleventeen year olds who think “black and white movies are boring” or make fun of me for how I looked…it was like being in high school all over again and I hated it. My test anxiety is the worst– it’s easy to say grades do not define your worth, but if I got anything under a B, I would go apeshit and end up binging and purging. It was easy to do living with my partner because he was never there, and he never noticed my puffy face, my scratched voice, the bags that used to contain food buried in the bottom of the trash. It was easy to keep my secret and struggle through school, just for the sake of not bothering him.
We planned a trip to Europe, where my mom had returned to about two years ago. He had never been overseas and I wanted to see my family in Sweden (and also make a stop to Amsterdam for my birthday before heading back home). My mom on the phone sounded like she was doing better– I had such disdain for her when I moved to New York, because she blamed me for leaving her and was drinking/self medicating herself to practically death. I thought her moving back and being close to her family would help her. So, we make it to Sweden, and my jaw just drops. She’s tinier than ever, shaking, can barely walk, smoking a cigarette every five to ten minutes. Something in my brain just fucking snapped, and I didn’t know it at the time, but when I returned from my trip, I was so completely immersed in my disorder.
I tried to enjoy the trip as best as I could with my lover, but seeing my mom like that really ripped me in half. I couldn’t help but talk down to her because it was like talking to a fucking wall. She was so fucked up if she would ask me something and if I answered, she’d ask again, as if she wasn’t listening at all when I said it the first time. It is frustrating, especially to see that she hadn’t changed at all and in fact got even worse. It became a contest with her; any time I tried to open up about what was going on with me, she had to one up me. On my last day there, which was my birthday, I gave her an ultimatum– either she could live her life this way without me in it, because I can’t bear to watch her do this to herself any longer, or she gets help and I will support her any way I can. She didn’t choose the latter.
I left, frustrated, my partner being frustrated with me. He wasn’t very supportive during the trip. At one point, he said “look, I’m gonna go do what I want because I’ve never been here; you can stay and be upset, blah blah blah”. It just…he doesn’t get it. He thinks “Just get over it” is the cure to all problems. This is how he treated my disorder.
When we got back to the states, I decided to do at least 100 days of sobriety, because I knew with everything swirling in my head, drinking wasn’t going to help. He said he was going to detox as well, but he lasted two days before starting the party again. I was very serious about not drinking or going out, and he didn’t care for it much. He didn’t seem proud or supportive. Sometimes, he would try to get me to drink, because I “was more fun” when I drank. Ouch. I stayed inside, kept to myself, went through the motions again with my ED. I tried to communicate about it more, and about how severe it was. He just got more annoyed with it, and found a way out of talking about it, or telling me it was causing him to be self-destructive. This emotional absence of his started effecting our physical relationship, which to him I think WAS the relationship. I remember crying and telling him I didn’t know what was wrong but that I was sorry for not being able to reciprocate physical affection.
I reached a point where I wanted to try therapy again with a professional who has dealt with eating disorder patients. I asked Gregory if he would go with me, because he wasn’t able to understand how I was feeling or what my mind was going through any time I would try and explain it to him. He flat out told me he wouldn’t go with me, and I think that’s when I knew this relationship was no longer going in the same direction.
The fights increased, his annoyance with me increased. The night that it became apparent there was no saving grace, I was having a full on panic attack after working at a shitty job I had recently started (which I now quit for the sake of my mental health). I came home, yelling, crying, freaking out. He threw up his hands and said he was in a good mood and I was ruining it. We were supposed to go to a show together, but he went on his own. Before leaving, he came in the bedroom to ask if I was going to be okay. I wasn’t going to lie, and I told him I was not okay. He left, never called me once the entire evening, and came home at like 4 in the morning.
It’s crazy to think that I came up here for someone who ultimately never really cared about me. I helped him through his rough patch, and even threw his name in the hat that landed him a new job at a venue I work at. Needless to say, it is awkward as shit and as much as I enjoy working there, I’m not sure if I can last much longer.
Anyway, yeah. We awkwardly shared an apartment for about two months until I found a tiny room in a great neighborhood at a stupid cheap price. I took it immediately. My cat, Kilgrave, who I love more than any being in the entire world, could not come with me as my roommates are allergic. I will get him back when I make another move where he won’t kill anyone with his fur, but it kills me knowing I can’t see him as I was the one to get up to feed him, stay home and spend time with him, clean his litter box……he was the only one at the time to sense when something was wrong with me and would curl up on me and lick me. He is my best friend.
I will say that my breakup allowed me to see that I do have friends here. People I considered acquaintances or just friends in the lighter term were extremely supportive and I was able to open up to them and get my emotional needs serviced the way I never could with Gregory. I was given sound advice, I wasn’t scolded for making mistakes and was pointed in directions to learn from them, and so forth. I have never felt so supported even though I’m single for the first time in forever. I also have never felt so self empowered before. I am in one of the most magnificent cities and I am able to explore when I want, with who I want, or by myself and on my own fucking time.
The problem is, living in a tiny space with a bunch of other people has led to me going out and drinking much more than I am used to. The depressant portion of alcohol has recently taken over me and lingers the next day after a night out. I have found myself in disarray, coming home to me being clumsy and drunkenly tripping over my mirror leaning against the wall and cutting up my hands trying to clean it. Passing out in bars, losing basic motor skills and falling…I’m not 21, what the fuck am I doing? Not even that but my attitude changes and I start thinking about how I’ll probably never find anyone, and I’m not doing anything important with my life. I can’t figure out how to challenge myself productively.
My relapse yesterday was me being unhappy with my going out so much. I didn’t feel productive.
I’m going to try to change that, starting now. I realize everything I’ve written is really disorganized, but my brain is the equivalent. I think I just needed to get out there that, I’m fucked up, and I’m coming from a fucked up place, but I’m trying to be better, but please understand why I’m so anxious and ambivalent. I run real hot or real cold. I am an all or nothing person, but I want to find balance. I feel like every time I begin to, I fuck it up and end up back at square one.
I suppose that if I document more of my progress daily, it will help. So yeah. Here’s to doing that…and figuring out myself.