Bulimia is my Life; My Life is My Lie.
My life is an utter lie. A complete act. I do not remember the last time I went an entire day without lying. And, I cannot tell if my bulimia is the cause, result, or merely a side effect of my Lies. I am 28 years old, and have been bulimic now for 16 years. 16 years! I did not realize how long it’s been untill I just did the math. This story is long. It is probably boring. I do not expect anyone to read it through. But, it is bursting out of me like a 16 year binge waiting to purge from my polluted and overstuffed mind.
My bulimia started like many people’s does: Slightly heavier than my peers as a kid; highly competitive athlete, driven by perfection and terrified of failure. The first time I threw up it was in my stepmom’s trashcan. I ate heaps of chocolate ice cream with peanut butter mixed in. I don’t know what made me do it. I did not even have to use my fingers to gag myself--strong stomach muscles, I suppose--made the ice cream come up without much strain. And I just let it all out in the trash can! I don’t think I even emptied it out...thinking back I am shocked by my gaul.
Bulimia is a quick rolling stone and very hard to stop once it is in motion. I was so good at hiding it! I even got publicly mad at one of my friend, who at our eighth grade commencement ceremony bragged about making herself throw up sometimes. I think I was envious of her willingness to share; angry that she had taken “my” thing and made it her own, Around that time I started harming myself in other ways as well. The first time I cut (about age 13), I honestly thought I was the first person to ever do this---the shame of failing a spelling test was so overpowering that I scratched my arm in the same place until blood dripped down my wrist.
Fast forward 16 years, to me now---after, I will share more of those shameful 16 years. I am a professional therapist, working on my Ph.D in Clinical Counseling. I am married to a man I loathe, but pretend to love because I am so afraid of his anger and retaliation if I try to leave him. Oh, and btw, I am most definitely not straight. I am in love with a woman and we have been together for almost a year now. My husband does not know I am gay; my girlfriend does not know I still share a bed with my husband. I still self-harm--even though I am a therapist who works with adolescents with self-mutilation and ED tendencies! After cutting so much that, over a ten year period, I have had over 300 sutures, I turned to other forms of self harm. The funny thing is, I have been comically clumsy my whole life, so no one ever really suspects anything (expect one time when my husband found me in the bathroom with a steak knife and cuts so deep in my thighs that I passed out from loss of blood and ended up doing a mortifying 72 hour stay at the looney bin).
Now, I do not cut. Not very often anyway. I burn, punch, hit, puncture...anything. I have broken many bones, and nearly went into septic shock from an infected 1st degree burn on my leg. I harm myself in ways that are less noticeable to outsiders, but still bring me that adrenaline, satisfaction, and relief of self-harm. (I run miles with a dislocated hip, herniated disk, shin splints and tow dangerously messed up ACLs. I take diet pills that make my heart beat so fast that I often cannot talk from the pain; I take enough aspirin to trigger my ulcers, but not to be fatal; I allow my husband to have sex with me even though it is excruciating; I punch myself until I am black and blue and then blame my chaotic life for the bruises; I drink very hot hot sauce to cause pain, etc.)
Anyway, the bulimia. I want to share the worst of my worst, so that the experiences are out and no longer can contaminate my eternal existence. My bulimic shame: I remember getting milkshakes in 7th grade with a friend. I chugged the whole thing and then, while sitting next to my friend in the back of dad’s car, vomited into the shake’s cup until it was nearly overflowing. I left in the back seat and ran into the basketball game we were going to. when I came out, my dad said “ I got thirsty while you were in there so I tried some of your shake..it was all warm and tasted rancid...” I was so mortified and ashamed...I mumbled “ ya I think the milk was sour or something because it tasted really weird.” I wanted to die!
My poor dogs get blamed for everything. I blame them for my binges. I blame them for all the missing food. And one of my most shameful disgusting Bulimia Secrets? They clean up after me. They eat my purges. I purge onto the dog room floor, or into their bowls, or even into my own dishes and then I put it on the floor and they eat it. It is so bad that they know when I am about to purge. They do not beg when I am eating. They do not whine while I am seated at a table. But, the second I stand up after a meal, they get all excited and wag their tails and start whining. If I bend over at the waist, even to tie my shoe, they think I am about to purge and get all excited and expectant and wait for their treat. I hate myself for this.
I have thrown up in cups, bottles, tupperware, trash cans, trash bags, dish disposals, bushes, backyards, front yards, dog bowls and chip bags. I have to make excuses for where all of my money goes. I waste money on diet pills that may or may not work, but the thought of not taking them terrifies me. I get furious when my mom asks me if I am throwing up. One time, after she and I gorged on an indian buffet and I w purged afterward then made some excuse about the toilet at the restaurant not flushing properly. my mom said “Sometimes I wish I could make myself barf.” It broke my heart and made me hate myself more that I can say. I was furious--with myself---but took it out on her. I said, “mom, that is so stupid! No, you don’t wish that. It is so dangerous. bulimia is so dangerous...” and then I started spinning off scary facts about bulimia. I told that every time you throw up, you put pressure on your heart that constantly exposes you to the risk of heart attack. I told her it messes with your electrolytes, and your thyroid, and everything else I force myself to ignore. And then, I puked more when we got home. Just to get it all out.
I am amazing at excuses and throwing people off. I bring tampons to the bathroom so people think I'M’, on my period. I have gotten the seat of my pants wet so I can say I was in the bathroom scrubbing leaked period blood from my pants. I’ve carried on conversations with my mom or sister while sitting on the toilet and puking between my legs to throw them off. WHen my mom or friends follow me into the bathroom, I pretend to pee first and then rush out of my stall to puke into the trash can while the other person is stilling peeing. When I was caught puking, I called in sick to to work so that my excuses of “food poisoning” seemed more valid. I could have lost my job.
I want a normal relationship with food. I want to be able to enjoy food. I want to be able to eat when I am hungry, stop when I am full, and quit fixating on eating every single second of my day.
Once, when I was so depressed and full of self-hatred that I ate three boxes of mac and cheese and drank a full bottle of Cake flavored vodka, I looked down at the fat on my thighs and took a turkey carver to them. I litteralY attemted to carve the fat off my thighs. I of course, there really was not much fat there, and the pain hit me all of a sudden. I told my husband and girlfriend, that I “crotched” myself while doing cartwheels on a wooden fence...no one even questioned it.
I need help. I know that. I don't know where to turn, because I feel like I’ve spent over half my life trying to convince people that I am ok, that I am fine and healthy and normal....I feel like I cannot ask anyone for help. I have almost gone to support groups. Sometimes, I kind of wish something would happen so that I am forced to get help. I also feel like people won’t really believe that I am as messed up as I am. I am not rail thin. I do not look like the stereotypical image of an “eating disorder.” I am average. I am embarrassed to ask for help or go to support groups, because I feel like everyone else will judge me, think I am too fat to be sick, too fat to having an eating disorder. I hate myself for this. I know I am killing myself. But I look so damn normal---no one would believe me. I think, more than anything, I just want to be---to truly be and feel---as normal as I seem to be. I want to be the girl that everyone thinks that I am.