FAITHLESS : 2003 : STEPHANIE.ZIOBRO
I probably stopped eating about a year ago. And itís not because I thought I was fat or felt any competition from other females regarding who can eat the least.
I just stopped.
And it began logically enough. After I was kicked out of my apartment and moved in with Jim, I had no idea how long I was going to be there. All of my stuff took up every square inch of his spare room, which he normally used for studying and art projects. So there was that. On top of everything, my cordless phone was in one of the 47 boxes Iíd piled up, and because I had basically just thrown everything into boxes, I didnít think to remove the battery from the phone, so for the first week I was there, an incessant and highly irritating beep emitted from somewhere in the room. Constantly. Not even closing the door could make it go away. So these three situations Ė the unknown time span, the amount of space I took up, and the subtle form of noise torture Ė made me very self-conscious about being there. So I figured the least I could do was not eat his food.
So I didnít.
And after about a month of this, not eating became a habit.
And it wasnít until I realized that the only way I could get my clothes to stay on was with the use of safety pins, that I visually saw how much weight I had lost. People had been commenting, but I brushed it off. Then I saw a picture someone had taken of me, and I was in awe at how huge my head looked against my shrunken frame. I didnít think about the fact that I had lost fifteen pounds in a month, and whether or not that was unhealthy. Physically, I felt okay, and what was more twisted, was that I was happy I was losing weight. For women, being able to fit into a smaller size was like climbing Mount Everest. Yet there was something taboo about talking about it. You just didnít tell another girl that a size 7 was too big for you, even if she was a size 5. Speaking of losing weight was just a silent victory, and no matter how you went about doing it, you were winning. You just couldnít tell anyone.
I figured that my weight loss was merely temporary, that as soon as I got my own place, Iíd start being able to eat again, and everything would be fine. So the first thing I did after I moved into my new apartment, was go to Stop and Shop and buy over $200 worth of groceries. But unbeknownst to me, my "habit" had grown into a warped lifestyle, and the fruit got mushy, the bread got green, and the cold cuts made their appearance known via a rancid odor that made me hold my breath every time I opened the refrigerator door.
Ten months and negative forty pounds later, my refrigerator is a home for two bottles of home-brewed beer given to me by a friend with a page of directions on how to drink them, and the fear of drinking them incorrectly results in them still sitting there, 3 tubs of butter Ė because my mother had bought them for me in bulk and I never used it because any bread or bagels I bought just sat there to take up space, and a gallon of milk for coffee.
I rely on coffee.
And I rely on it far too much. My hands are shaking from over-caffienation right now and its not even 10am yet. So between not eating and speeding up my metabolism with massive amounts of caffeine, so help me God if I can walk through a metal-detector at the airport without safety pins stopping my progressÖ
For years I wore a size 10. A few months ago, I went clothes shopping for new pants, and just for laughs, I tried on a size 5. Normally, I wouldnít have bothered, but they were on sale cheap, so I figured why the hell not.
They fit perfectly.
I hadnít been a size 5 since sixth or seventh grade, and in sixth and seventh grade, a size 5 is equivalent to a size 10 mid-adulthood.
This intrigued me, and I became obsessed.
I went to four different stores and tried on various size 5 items.
They all fit.
And when I walked out of the mall that day, I found myself thinking that Iíd come back in a month and see if I could fit into a size 3Ö
Illogical Brain: Iím thin! I can be a model now!
Logical Brain: Howíd you get so fucked up?
Iíve done research to see if I have an eating disorder.
Iíve gone to the doctor to see if I have a thyroid condition.
I wake up at 8am and drink a pot of coffee before 10. If I have to go to work, I drink coffee when I get there. I come home from work at 2am, and I have a cup of coffee. Youíd think all that caffeine would have me bouncing off the walls to the point of restraint, but it doesnít.
All the time.
But when I lay down to go to bed, I canít sleep.
I get phone calls from my mother:
"Have you lost more weight?"
"I donít know." I donít have a scale.
"How are you feeling?"
"Iím tired." Iím fucked.
Iím tired of a lot of things. Iím tired of going to work and having to listen to gossip I donít care about. Iím tired of sticking my hands in the maraschino cherries to make shirly temples and Iím tired of having to heat up Hot Bacon Mustard Dressing which smells like feet. Iím tired of making sure I have the appropriate "flair" and that my tattoos arenít showing. Iím tired of everything thatís on TV and of every video that I own. Iím tired of my arms and shoulders breaking out because I donít drink enough water. Iím tired of making just enough money to pay my bills. Iím tired of hating my job. Iím tired of being motivated to change jobs and then changing my mind about that. Iím tired of wishing I could do whatever I want and not being able to. Iím tired of not feeling like doing what I thought I wanted to do when I have the opportunity to do it. Iím tired of the phlegmmy cough I have from smoking too many cigarettes. Iím tired of shaving my legs and blow-drying my hair. Iím tired of the mind-games played when you start dating someone. Iím tired of the 2am phone calls from Johnny Mack saying "come over and watch kung-fu" when I know he just wants to get laid, and Iím tired of considering going over because I just want to feel close to someone. Iím tired of the stories my mind tells me when someone says theyíll call and then they donít. Iím tired of the stories my mind tells me when someone says theyíll call and then they do. Iím tired of doubting peopleís intentions. Iím tired of second-guessing my own. Iím tired of any song by Destinyís Child. Iím tired of waking up everyday wanting to kill myself. Iím tired of finding reasons not to. Iím tired of praying to God and begging to be Normal. Iím tired of having to pretend everything is okay when itís not. Iím tired of fearing Iíll make an ass out of myself in front of people I donít know. Iím tired of worrying about what people think of me anyway. Iím tired of daydreaming. Iím tired of real life. Iím tired of writing this story because halfway through every chapter I think, "Whatís the point of this anyway?" Iím tired of not wanting to write this story. Iím tired of wishing I was different and Iím tired of worrying about the fact that I wish I was different. Iím tired of thinking that when I walk into a room and someone is sitting on a couch, that the reason their hand is under a pillow or a sweatshirt is because they donít want me to see that theyíre actually giving me the finger. Iím tired of how often my phone rings, and Iím tired of it not ringing. Iím tired of waiting for something good to happen, and Iím tired of finding everything wrong with any good thing that does. And Iím tired of knowing that only I can make good things happen, and that I am in charge of my own life and where I want to be. Iím tired of wishing I had someone that I could totally and completely rely on, and Iím tired of knowing that I can truly only rely on myself. And Iím tired of questioning how much longer I can rely on myself when ultimately I wish I wasnít here at all? Iím tired of being faced with the realization that Iím 27 years old and every day I cry because Iím not dead.
Iím so fucking tired.
And I have a canister full of sedatives right in front of me. And I think about swallowing each and every one of them, and how nice it would be to finally be able to close my eyes and fall asleep and not be tired anymore.
Taking the easy way out seems like something Iím entitled to. For once, I feel completely and utterly selfish. I donít care who I hurt. I need to put myself first for a change. What good is everyone else being happy if Iím in indescribable pain? Its as if I cut off my arm with a butcher knife for a friend who needed a replacement. Yeah, theyíre thrilled and grateful that I sacrificed for them, yet have no idea how much I hurt as I smile and bleed all over the floor.
Think of me first.
Is that wrong?
Because it would make me so so happyÖ
Why does my happiness have to mean that everyone else suffers?
Canít we all be happy that my mind is finally at peace? That Iím finally content? Doing what makes me feel good?
So many people have told me that I deserve to be happy.
I deserve it.
"Thatís all we want for you."
Well, why is there a "rule," then?
Itís as if I walked into a grocery store and all these bells and whistles go off and people start throwing balloons and confetti at me because Iím the one-millionth customer, and my prize is an all-expense paid shopping spree Ė I can get whatever I want, and any amount that I want, and shop for however long it takes me. But just as Iím about to head over to the freezer section, someone yells out, "Wait! The only rule is that under no circumstances can you purchase ANY Ben and Jerryís Phish Food Ice Cream!"
Whatís the whole fucking point then?
Why go shopping?
I donít eat anyway, so why is this such a big deal?
But what if I swallow them, and then I change my mind? What if I suddenly think of one thing I have to look forward to that I donít want to miss out on Ė like hearing that the Fatboy Slim video for "Weapon of Choice" with Christopher Walken is going to be on in an hour and it will be my only chance to see it? Or Johnny Rivera from Ochoaís Salon picked my name out of 100 for a free haircut and color and the appointment is tomorrow at noon? Or Graham Chex, my absolute favorite cereal, is back on the market and the shipment will be at Stop and Shop at 8 oíclock that night?
I have a complete inability to make myself puke.
And the thought of having my stomach pumped again scares the crap out of me Ė plus, what if I need someone to drive me to the ER and no one is around to do it?
So I donít take the pills. I donít slit my wrists. I donít hang myself. Instead, I pray to God every day to take me. Because I know if I do it myself, Iíll go to Hell. But I think, maybe if I pester Him enough, Heíll get sick of me begging and say "Oh alright already!" and send a huge dump truck down Route One the wrong way to careen right into me. Iíd even make a deal with Him. Iíd tell Him that Iíd come back to Earth and live for others Ė absorb everyoneís pain, but I just need to know that I donít HAVE to be here, that I can go back up when I need a break and watch Heaven Cable Access and make donations to various PBS charitiesÖ
I just want to know I have a choice.
Because maybe, being given a choice, being here wouldnít be so bad.