Anyone who has had an eating disorder could probably relate to a lot of what she said and/or was going through - the thoughts, the behaviors, the absolute feelings of despair, desperation, worthlessness and inadequacy. It's been a while since I have been at the low she described, but just listening to her, I was instantly in touch with those memories. She said:
"I am worthless, useless, ugly, fat, failure, unfriendly, unbubbly, stupid. I hate, hate, hate my fat f*ing self with such a huge hatred I can't explain it. How do I get away from me? How do I feel good? How do I stop this madness? There is such an anger boiling inside me I want to explode. F*ck you fatass. I am so fat and so ugly."And she mentioned another thing we had in common:
"I know for certain I was always an anxious child... I had such early memories of just being so aware of myself. And I had never been content with just being Amy."I was like that too - from such a young age. So self aware. So self conscious. So sensitive. I'm still like that.
Another point she made that stopped me dead in my tracks was this one:
"I was jealous of everyone. I compared myself to every single girl that walked by me... I turned my focus on trying to look good. If I wasn't popular, cool, funny, smart or vivacious like other girls my age I yearned desperately to be pretty. As if it would make up for everything else."Oh dear god! I really couldn't have summed it up better myself! That has been my MO for as far back as I can remember - and I'm talking childhood, 3 years old, jealous of every other girl, comparing myself to every other girl/woman around me. Always doing anything I could to look and feel beautiful but never feeling good enough or pretty enough. And surprise: That is STILL ME! Desperately insecure. Wishing I looked different than I do. Examining every detail picking apart every tiny thing I find wrong. And I still compare myself to every single woman I see. In life, in print, on TV. I am still jealous of everyone.(And if you're wondering, Yes, this has been a huge issue and caused some ugly and memorable arguments in every relationship I've ever had.)
"I was eating my emotions. I was eating my sadness. Just drowning myself in food."Me too, Amy. Me too.
I think I watched the episode three times in a row. I couldn't believe how much I related to her and wondered why we had such a strong connection on the back end but I went the route of compulsive over-eater and she went the route of bulimic. Why were we so similar in our thought patterns but different in how it affected our food/body abuse? I'm not sure.
I was talking to a friend today and told him that I remember points in my life which, as I've mentioned here before, I seriously considered suicide. Obviously I was depressed but one of the biggest contributors of my depression and reasons I wanted to die was because of my weight, and more specifically, my legs. I hated my legs so much and worse than that - felt I could never do anything about them. I would never be able to make them look the way I wanted (so why bother trying to change them at all, right?)
I remember being self conscious of the size of my thighs as far back as nine years old. NINE. That's fourth grade. I remember three very specific things from that school year:
1) I remember changing into an outfit for a play or something and I wouldn't come out of the room where I changed because I was so embarrassed about how my legs looked in the outfit.
2) I remember during the daily Pledge of Allegiance, when we stood at our desks, looking at the size of the thighs of the girls in the row in front of me and comparing mine to theirs. I remember wishing desperately that mine were the size of theirs.
3) I remember a girl named Jessica Palumbo who owned these satiny/shiny pants she would occasionally wear to school. To me, they were "Sandy" pants (Olivia Newton John's character in Grease. I saw that movie in the theater when I was seven and I wanted to be her more than I can tell you). I was so insanely jealous of Jessica in those pants. I hated when she wore them. It ruined my whole day. I couldn't get anything done on the days she wore them because I was so consumed with jealousy.
And it only occurred to me just now, after reading that back to myself, what strange thinking/behavior that is for a nine year old, but it's how I felt and thought. If I hadn't lived it myself, I wouldn't believe that nine year olds thought that way. But I did.
And in 30 years, not much has changed. I still look at women's legs all the time - every day, every woman - constantly comparing myself to them, often wishing mine looked more like theirs - their length, their shape, their size, their skin. So I really have been comparing myself to other girls and women and drowning myself in self-loathing for not being good enough from an unbelievably young age. I realize how pointless and harmful this is to myself, but I don't know how to not do it.
And I think that explains why I gave up on myself so many times and actually considered suicide - I thought there was no hope for me (especially my legs) and that I was 'beyond repair'. So may times I gave up my attempts at weight loss because I thought "I'll never look the way I want to, so why bother?" And I contemplated suicide because I knew it would be easier to kill myself than to accept or change my legs.
This may sound pretty extreme if you've never hated yourself or your body with that kind of intensity, but I am guessing I am not alone in those thoughts. Of course I am glad I didn't kill myself and I'm here and I somehow managed to change my life - and my legs. But as far as I have come, I know I will never have the legs I want.
I guess I have to just work towards acceptance. I am more aware of it now and should probably make peace with myself. Because I no longer want to kill myself. But I do still wish I had someone else's legs.