Lunch time. What was time to refresh for after classes for some, was my thirty minutes I had to get rid of whatever food I had packed for the day.
In the grips of my eating disorder, it seemed like the perfect arrangement. When asked if I had eaten, I could say yes and provide proof: crumbs from a lunch I never ate.
But, like most shortcuts, this proved too good to be true.
It was exhausting having to remember to throw away all that food, and this of course led to days where I would just forget.
When the Lies Catch Up With You
I distinctly remember one of these days. School was over, and my dad was coming to pick me up, but there was still a sandwich sitting in my bag. Time was running out, and in a frenzy to get rid of it, I ran to the bathroom.
As soon as I got there, I got the text from my father saying to come to the car. There I was in the stall, sandwich in hand, too flustered to move. So, I did as anyone would (ha): drop the entire sandwich in the toilet and run. I didn’t even bother to flush. Big mistake. As I exited the stall, I noticed the line…
I still hear the echoes of the following girl’s reaction. As I opened the door to leave, her cries of confusion filled the room. Too humiliated to face her, I ran to the car and pretended that nothing happened.
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To this day, I have questions. Did she wait for another stall? What really happened to that sandwich on that day years ago?
These are questions I’ll probably never find an answer to, but with college starting soon, I have the opportunity to answer a far more important one:
Who am I without my eating disorder?
It’s not the embarrassment from this interaction that stings, it’s all the sacrifices I made for such behavior. Now I don’t mean to talk numbers, but thirty minutes, five days per week. That’s 150 minutes I could have spent making connections and exploring interests. Simply put, those lunches weren’t the only thing I was throwing away.
I am not proud of the way I acted, but it’s been liberating to laugh now at how completely ridiculous my logic was.
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
In laughter I’ve found accountability and self-compassion. At that point in time, I genuinely thought that my actions were going to bring me the results I was looking for — happiness, acceptance, connection. I cannot rewrite the past, but I’ve learned that such decisions do not get me closer to what I want, so it’s the reminder I use to fight the disordered urges I still occasionally face.
I’m starting college this fall, and although I haven’t yet answered my question, I can go to school knowing that I won’t be wasting my free time in the bathroom.