Skinny Love

As far back as I can remember I was the object of ridicule. My shame started with overt acts of aggression: getting shoved on the bus as I walked to my seat, being slammed into walls in the crowded hallways. I never understood why though. I thought maybe it was my fault, maybe I wasn’t good enough. I tried everything to meet the expectations my peers had of me, but still I fell short.

Nikki, I’m here to help you. Just do what I ask, and I’ll make all your dreams come true. Hunger is a feeling, Nikki, thin is a skill. The choice is yours.

Each day starts the same. Wake up and head for the mirror. The list of flaws seems to never end, I can almost hear Her voice in my head. 

In the past you have heard all of your teachers and parents talk about you. You are “so mature”, “intelligent”, “14 going on 45”, and you possess “so much potential”. Where has that gotten you, may I ask? Absolutely no where! You are not perfect, you do not try hard enough, further more you waste your time on thinking, and talking with friends, and drawing! Such acts of indulgence shall not be allowed in the future.

Your friends do not understand you. They are not truthful. In the past, when the insecurity has quietly gnawed away at your mind, and you asked them, “Do I look….fat?” and they answered “Oh no, of course not” you knew they were lying! Only I tell the truth. Your parents, let’s not even go there! You know that they love you, and care for you, but part of that is just that they are your parents and are obligated to do so. I shall tell you a secret now: deep down inside themselves, they are disappointed with you. Their daughter, the one with so much potential, has turned into a fat, lazy, and undeserving girl.

Her voice has become my own. I am no longer my own. My thoughts, emotions, actions, and reactions belong to Her now. After three years of living in my head, she decided to make it her home and what could I do to stop her anyway? I was the one who invited her in.

I was 14 when my disorder first started. I wasn’t ever too concerned with my appearance. I divided all my attention, focus, and dedication between two things: soccer and painting. I quit soccer in the eighth grade. My legs were too fat for spandex. I knew because earlier that day I had to weigh myself during my annual sports physical. I stared blankly in disbelief at the numbers, but they just stared back, never changing they stared past my eyes, and into the inner depths of my soul. I can’t even remember the last time I picked up a paint brush.

She doesn’t allow hobbies. Counting is my only habit. Numbers have consumed my life. I keep busy counting calories, and charting my weight. The numbers become both friend and enemy, and the frenzied thoughts pray for them to be lower than yesterday, last night, etc.

 I had to sacrifice my friends for Her because she made me choose. She told me she was the only one I could ever trust. Although I appeared to be isolated, I was never truly alone. She never left my side, just like she promised.

Progress is pain.                                                                                              

That fall, I started my freshman year at an all-girls Catholic high school, and kept chiseling away at myself, trying to purify my soul through the transformation of my body. By October, I was subsisting on almost nothing — about 250 calories a day. I was still very new to this lifestyle. I had spent the summer filling my journal with magazine clippings of models and bikinis I wanted to be able to wear.

            I was still an amateur. I had entered a world I never knew existed. Halfway through my freshman year I started doing research. I found websites for girls like me, girls who needed to lose weight. I made a lot of friends who helped me with my struggle.  There were rules that had to be followed – guidelines to help us reach our goal, perfection. Every website I visited had the same rules posted on the home page.

1) If you aren’t thin you aren’t attractive.
2) Being thin is more important than being healthy.
3) You must buy clothes, cut your hair, take laxatives, starve yourself, and do anything to make yourself look thin.                                                                                        
4) Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty.
5) Thou shall not eat fattening food without punishing oneself afterwards.
6) Thou shall count calories and restrict intake accordingly.
7) What the scale says is the most important thing.
8) Losing weight is good/gaining weight is bad.
9) You can never be too thin.
10) Being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success.

These were the rules I was to live by, and I did for three long years. I went from weighing 121 to a grand total of 87 pounds. I had been in and out of hospitals. Hiding the disease was no longer an option. It was obvious. 

            The doctors tried reasoning with me, “You’re beautiful, but you are wasting away with every second that passes.” They asked me questions, “Have you eaten anything today?”

There was no need to respond, no answer was required; the consultant already knew the answer. I hadn’t eaten that day. I hadn’t eaten that week. I hadn’t eaten much of anything for years. I was 17 years old, and I was dying.

It’s dark now. The sun set hours ago. I must have passed out again because I am still in the woods behind my house. I go here often to escape reality for a little while. It’s so peaceful and serene. I love the quiet. There’s no questions, no accusations, no ridicule.

    Don’t kid yourself Nikki. You have become your own worst enemy.

            Then comes Her. She breaks through my thoughts before I can over-think anything. There are no secrets. She knows it all. After all, she is me. I have grown tired of her voice. Her intruding nature drains my energy. She feeds on my fear: fear of losing her, of being alone.

It’s been weeks since the last time I had anything to eat.

 I tried to ignore the agony of the hunger pains. I’m trying all the tricks: coffee, gum, I even went for a run; nothing satisfied the burning desire within my aching body.

Ignoring her I opened the fridge door, and I caved. I ate, and ate, and ate. With every bite I took she grew angrier.

            You are throwing all your hard work away, and for what? If you eat, it’s all over. There’s no going back. Take a look at your stomach. Do you really want it to get worse?

She tried reasoning with me, playing back my insecurities like a broken record, but nothing phased me.

            My love, you are stronger than this. It’s not too late to turn back. This isn’t what you want. Trust me.

I couldn’t stop. I ate everything in sight: potato salad, brownies, an apple, leftover macaroni from last night’s dinner, chicken nuggets from I don’t know when, fries, yogurt, pop tarts… the list never ends.

            Nikki Elizabeth look at yourself! For Christ’s sake you have lost control.

I’m scared now. Her words cut through my trance. My actions are catching up with me; reality is setting in.

            Are you done?

I sit in silence waiting for her to lecture me, but this time she doesn’t  She doesn’t say anything at all. This terrifies me. Has she left me? I stare at the tub of potato salad which had tumbled off the counter and exploded on the tiled floor – what have I done?! I stand to run to the bathroom, but collapse. I ate too much. I crawl across the kitchen floor, and drag myself to the bathroom. 

Minutes pass before I scrape up the courage to life my head enough to see my reflection. I stare in the mirror. My reflection stares back, almost as if it were mocking me.

Do you see what you did? I never left you. I kept my promise, but you just had to have it your way. Are you happy now? Is this what you wanted? Who will you turn to now? You have no one. Hear that… silence…

My head fell in shame.

Coward! That’s what you are. You are the only one to blame for this, and you can’t even look at the results of your actions. Look in the mirror. Do it. Do you honestly think you can live with yourself after this?

Tears are streaming down my face. For the first time in years I looked in the mirror without her saying a word. I don’t even recognize the face staring back at me. Her complexion is ghostly pale; her lips have lost their color, but are slightly blue. Her cheekbones poke through her freckled skin. Her hair has faded and is ratty; some chunks have even fallen out. She couldn’t bring herself to smile. She looked like an angel who had just stepped off the battlefield. Broken but beautiful.

She is you. You made her like this. No one will ever love you. I was the only one who ever did, but you couldn’t even hang out to that love, could you? You let it slip through those stick fingers of yours. You are worthless. I asked one simple thing of you, and you failed.

She is growing stronger in my pain. Her words are gnawing at my soul like hungry wolves. I lean over the toilet as I have done a million other times. It’s still silent. I feel weightless. I open my eyes, feeling satisfied with myself. She will proud of me.

Still nothing… I glance down at the ground below me, and find myself looking down on my shattered, broken bones. 

 

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By totalrampaige Posted in Stories

Flightless Bird

H is for the hell I’m living in. E is for the envy slowly taking over. L is for the love I lost. P is for the broken pieces.

In spite of the government’s strict regulations against any form of worship or practice of religion, Mommy and Daddy had always prayed to a higher power, a God if you will. I was too little to remember the words, in all honesty, I’ve done my best to forget them. My memory only forgets things I have heard, anything I have seen or read is in my head forever. I’ve been on my own now for so long. I’m so tired of hiding. I  just wanna break out of this shell that has thrust itself upon me. I have nothing left to lose, no one even knows who I am. Still, I’m up against the world. There will be no compromise, no way out, it’s either them or me. There is no in between. I’m fighting a world that is completely oblivious of my existence. It’s a losing battle really, I just wish I didn’t have to go down alone. Maybe if it wasn’t just me, maybe then the odds would be different.  I do want to believe that there is a God of some sort, but how can I commit myself to somebody I don’t know, whom I have never quite understood before? Besides, I am not even for sure this God really exists. Hmf. . . Guess we would get along pretty well though, considering the state I’m in.

Ghosts of my past haunt me while I sleep, in never ending nightmares. I should be used to this by now, I have been seeing  the same scene of Hell for years. Only it’s not the same, every night behind closed eyelids I see the same imagery, but I know the meaning is much different. There seems to be more demons twisting with the plan of events. Demons who are determined to bring about my family’s downfall. Every nightmare has a common factor, no matter how hard I try I always fall short of saving my family and am forced to watch them crumble. Every nightmare portraying the very same message; I have failed my mother and father and because of my weakness they have died.

 

Mommy and Daddy are downstairs yelling, but I hear other voices as well. Neighbors? No. The stone cold voices I had heard were those of malicious guards. Guards who, by the President’s order, are here to kill my family. I pull the covers over my head, hoping this gesture will somehow carry my parents and I to safety. No such luck. Mommy is sobbing, I really despise people who make her cry. She is my source of strength, and she tries her absolute best not to let weakness show. She’s gotten pretty talented at building up walls around her heart. Whatever the guards are doing to her, to daddy, must be horrific.

The guards silence both mom and dad with a crack of their whips, and then the smell of gasoline fills the air. All my life Mommy has told me this could happen, and when she was preparing me for this, she said to use the escape ladder to climb out my east  window. The icy bars of the ladder send a numbing shock through my entire body. Trying my absolute best not to make any ruckus, I slowly make my way down from one bar to another. When my freezing feet finally reach the snow covered ground below, I make my way for the hidden cellar door. Mommy always said that she would be down there with Daddy waiting for me. Once I reached the bottom of the cellar I was frightened by the fact that neither mama nor papa were there. In my little eight year old heart, the world had stopped turning that very moment. I don’t even hesitate to jump right up and start up the stairs,  I have to find Mommy and Daddy!

It takes a lot of effort to lift the cellar door all by myself, but after much struggle I lifted it up just enough to crawl out. I am again taken off guard when I stand and head for the house. The white snow is glowing from the reflection of the wild orange and red flames that now ignite our house. It’s actually a pretty sight, shockingly beautiful. I am struck with awe as I watch the raging flames dance in the night, lighting up the sky.

As time ticks on, the angry fire only continue to consume the house. Feeding on the remains of my home, the detonating flames begin taking over, I throw buckets of water, as an attempt to calm the beast, but the fire is unchanging. In fact, the water only seems to be infuriating the monster. I throw the bucket aside and decide my next mission would be to save Mommy and Daddy.

The doors and windows are locked, and the escape ladder wouldn’t be safe now that the roof is caving in. I throw a rock through the window and use my body to break through the remaining glass. I could hear them screaming, but they were nowhere in sight. “Millicent run, get out of here while you can,” I heard Mommy’s voice but it startled me, it wasn’t the same sweet, innocent voice I would normally hear coming from her. Instead her voice was raw and course from the thick smoke that has been asphyxiating her now for a moment too long. “Millicent Jane you go, I want you to get as far away from this place as you can you hear me. . .” Her voice cut out and the realization of her death hit me like a steel bullet. “Milly, do as your mother said, leave. Go far away, and promise me you will never turn back.” My father’s voice was hoarse as per usual. My instinct was to run through flames and wrap my skimpy arms around him. However, my legs would not move. “I promise papa,” I am not sure if I meant those words or if I only said them knowing he would be going soon. “Milly, I love you.” All fell silent after that, except for the crackling fire and the sounds of the house collapsing.

I do not know where I am going, my eyes are closed and I am walking by memory. I decide to run in the kitchen so I can grab the doll that Mommy and Daddy gave me for my fourth birthday. I am in no hurry to get out, I’m not even sure I would care if I collapsed right along with the house. I promised. I run outside and hide in the cellar for the night. Before opening the cellar door, I turn to face the house. “I love you too Daddy,” and even though she never got the chance to say it I tell Mommy I love her too, because I know what her last words would have been.

I am awakened by what I think is hail hitting the cellar door. It’s been three days of constant storms. Sooner or later I am going to have to get out of this cellar. I made a promise to my Daddy. Other than this doll, that promise is the only thing I have left of him. I am determined to keep it. “I’m going to come through, Daddy I promise. Somehow I will find a way to pull through. I just wish I knew how.” Just then the storm calmed, there was no sound of rain or hail.  All of a sudden all the broken pieces fell together. If Daddy were here, he would have told me that I do not need to know how. I only need to know where I am going, and God will light the way. All I have to do is trust. I have known Him along. He is the reason I made it to the cellar. I grab my doll and lift the cellar door, within minutes the sun is shining and a beautiful rainbow illuminates the sky. In that very instant, I heard the voice of God speak. It was no boom of thunder, nothing obvious, just simple and genuine. It was then that I knew I was never alone, it was never me against the world. All it took was a rainbow among the cloudy sky, and I was reminded of the promise that my own Father had made to me many years ago.

Punching Bag

My heart is pounding hard and fast behind my chest. I’m short of breath, but cannot stop. Breathe Kesean. But I can’t slow down. 1-2 1-2 1-2-3. 1-3-2  3-1-2-3-3. I keep hitting the bag as if it will take all my problems away. I could never be so lucky.

 

Hours pass and I am still hitting my heart out in this gym. It’s getting harder and harder to even lift my arms high enough to swing. I shouldn’t be overworking my body this much, but I just can’t make myself stop.

Well, I don’t have to make myself stop because not even thirty seconds after I throw the last punch my legs give out on me. My body hits the cold gym floor. It doesn’t hurt, I’m used to collapsing on this floor. This was a normal day for me.

I spend nearly everyday of the summer in this gym. Pounding for hours at a time, letting out the anger, the hurt, the hate. Taking it all out on this eighty pound punching bag, one fist at a time.

I refuse to turn out like my father. I will not let myself lose so much self control. I can’t. It is not an option for me. Nor is it an option for my older brother Ky. Neither of us will throw away our families for a bottle of alcohol.

I was only four years old when it all started. He would come home from what he said was “work” and all hell would break loose. He was always drunk when he came home, and when he got here he would only continue to drink more. He would yell and I could hear things crashing against the walls or just straight to the floor. Eventually mom just stopped buying nice things because she knew he would just break them anyway.

Some nights were actually really good, not often, but sometimes. There were nights where he would come home early, even before mom was out of work. He would cook up a big dinner and surprise mom with flowers when she got home. If it was a really good day he would tuck us in to bed, maybe even read us a story before leaning in for a kiss on the cheek. Then he would get up and walk out the door, but before closing the bedroom door behind him he would whisper, “I love you” and then disappear into the darkness.

Like I said, those days were rare. Most of the time he would wake up the whole house, if not the whole block, when he came stumbling through the door in the middle of the night.

He never hit me or Ky though, just mom. But it never bothered him that his sons were watching, observing, and he never figured out the hatred he was stirring up in our young hearts. It’s been six years now since he was sent away. Six years that Ky and I have been on our own trying to take care of mom. Trying to keep her alive.

The last time he was with us he nearly killed her. He beat her until she just fell over. Kind of the way I beat the bag until I fall over. Only, mom was actually getting hit, not doing the hitting. He crashed a vase on her head and Ky ran outside, he told me to stay in the closet. When he came back there were three men with him. Policemen.

Dad went to prison, there’s no chance he will be out before he dies. Mom went to the hospital where she was in the Intensive Care Unit for over six months. When she was finally released, she went through group counseling, but that didn’t last too long before she gave up on that. She got into drugs, not just pot, like hard core drugs. I don’t know how she got her hands on the stuff but she’s not only addicted to cocaine and oxycontin but now she has this love for Ketamine.

So Ky has been raising me since the day that our father was arrested. And now him and I are working together to get mom healthy. It is a lot of stress and we miss out on a lot.

That is why I come here, to this gym. It has become my safe haven. My escape from the outside world. In here, no one judges, no hates, and no one asks questions. In here, it’s just me and this eighty pound punching bag.