10. Skinny image:
In every perfect image there is a darker side. Take fairy tales as example, they portray a perfect image light years removed from the truth. They hold what we imagine or wish to be true only to find that darkness lurks in the very thing we hoped to achieve. A toddler is awestruck by the mystical unfolding of the tale, while adults know the truth of a hard lived reality in which things are not necessarily as they seem to be, not fairy tale-like at all. When I look in the mirror I always ask my Cinderella question: ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’ The sarcastic answer: ‘Not you by far for you have gained two ounces, miss Fatty’, puts me in touch with the dark side of myself, the darker hidden reality.
I suffer from BDM, the psychological abbreviation for Body Dismorphic Disorder. When I look in the mirror I never see myself as I really am, instead a bloated, fat person stares back with a gleeful grin and I know I have failed in losing the desired weight. You see me as the skeletal remains of a human being, somewhat like a Jewish prisoner in the Nazi camps. Which of our observations is the true one? I would disagree strongly with your version of who the real me is, as you would with mine, but then again I am sick, aren’t I?
I am in therapy, have been for nearly eight years and still there is no improvement. We talk, my clinical psychologist and I about the past, the present and the future and I say what she would like to hear. One learns this early on; it is better than having to struggle against the flow. This everybody sees as getting better, as showing improvement. I still hide the real me safely in a corner of my mind. At times she peeps out only to scurry back, like a frightened mouse being chased by a zealous cat, into the warm hole I have dug for her. She will never escape the bonds I carefully construct afresh each day. Nobody will ever know her by her real name.
As a fat toddler and teenager, I broke my mother’s heart as diet after diet failed to banish the extra pounds. I quickly learned to connect the dots between self-worth and weight. As one went up, the other came down and vice versa; see-sawing between love and hate. Now, I need to be thin, herein lies my self- worth. If I am thin and angular like the latest models in the fashion magazines, I am worthy of affection, love and admiration. I never attain my goal, there always seems to be a little roll of willful flesh that disregards my attempts at dieting it off. I keep a watchful eye on intake and elimination and keep a book balancing both sides out to perfect equality. I hide my ‘Book of Secrets’ in a plastic watertight container in the tank of the toilet in my bathroom. Seems appropriate enough, don’t you think?
I found the method on the internet, an oracle on all things related to the wonderful world of Anorexia and Bulimia. They are my closest friends to this day. I followed the prescribed actions deliberately and was a skinny shadow of myself within a year. At first everyone seemed pleased, now they wanted to heal the illness they started without accepting the blame. Funny how that was always the case, nobody was ever to blame except me. I did it for you, after all. Maybe I would have been happier as an overweight adult? Now I will never know, as this is my life.
I stand naked in front of the reflective silvery surface every morning. I use a small hand mirror to portray the surfaces I cannot see. Every day I am devastated by this non- fairy tale image and work harder at purging the last bit of fat from my system. I am the antithesis of Cinderella and always return to the ashes of despair.
I know that soon my non- fairy tale will end in a skinny little image of me lying on my bed, barely a handful of bones, a smidgen of dust, yet beautiful, accepted and loved at last…in death.
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