It is exactly what addiction is. Doing the unthinkable simply to quell the beast within. It’s a horrible, wretched bitch of a beast that I struggle with just about everyday, and even more so in the week before my period, when not even my daughter’s food is safe.
I remember it as if it happened yesterday. I woke up before everyone in my house, and the sun was shining like a beacon on my face. I quietly got out of bed, went to my dresser, and grabbed the only picture I had of my father and me.
He was not a major part of my life. We had a pseudo-relationship, and between memories I had and things I’d been told, I hated him. I looked at the picture, grabbed my first-grade safety scissors, and cut myself out of it. Then I took a red pen and put an X over his face, and wrote “I hate you” all around the white photo border. I set it down on my bed and stared at it.
And thus, my eating disorder was born.
I walked out of my room, down the hall, and straight to the refrigerator. I took out everything. E-VER-Y-THING. The Entenmann’s cherry pie. The cheese danish. The bread. The peanut butter. The jelly. The turkey, cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, hot dogs, ketchup, relish, sauerkraut. The milk and the juice and the cereal and the Kool-Aid. All of it.
And then there was the butter. I stared at it and it stared at me, daring me to add it to my pile of all things delicious. I eyed that butter down, and then I did the unthinkable.
I bit into it.
Yes. I bit into a stick of butter. However, for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to eat the whole thing, so I left it there. My gap-toothed badge of courage left squarely in the top of it. I stared blankly at that stick of butter.
Standing in front of the fridge, feeling the cold air tickling my toes, I briefly contemplated hiding the butter in the back of the fridge, but like a bear gearing up for winter, I’d eaten everything in sight and there was nowhere to hide it. So there it stood. In my nursery rhyme, the cheese didn’t stand alone, the butter did. I closed the door, watching the dying of the light within, not unlike my own light, and wondered if my light would go out (much like the refrigerator light had gone out) when my mum came downstairs and realised I’d eaten all of her groceries.
Unable to care — or even feel —at that moment, I walked back to my room, put all the empty pie tins, bread bags, and plates under my blankets, and waited — for what felt like an eternity. I heard my mother’s footsteps coming down the stairs. I held my breath as I heard the refrigerator door open. I dared not blink when I heard her close the door and make her way down the hall to my bedroom. I only stared when she asked me where all the food was, and if I had eaten it. And I think I cried a tear or two when she pulled back the sheets, found the wreckage and the picture I’d massacred. I didn’t get in trouble. And I didn’t get counselling. We just got more groceries.