“Four children? I don’t believe it. You look 25 and look at that flat stomach, how could you possibly have carried four children? What’s your secret?”
It was meant as a compliment, but it eats into my heart like dreams of forbidden food.
In response I make the same weary joke I’ve made 5 times this week “Well the cancer helps… Best diet in the world, a lot of unfortunate side effects though…”
People react differently to that one, sometimes they apologise because they think I’m upset about having cancer, but the joke is merely a deflection.
When they say those things, death by cancer isn’t the problem anymore, healing and in turn gaining weight suddenly seems far more terrifying. I’m upset about still not being satisfied with my body, still absentmindedly counting my ribs and running my fingers along my collarbone when I should be focusing on things that really matter.
I really want to be able to tell people to stop complementing my increasingly visible bones because I have been in recovery from Anorexia for years and stuff like this just coddles the parts of myself I have been beating down for so long, the parts that are slowly but surely escaping their cages.
This isn’t good for me. This is dangerous and I don’t just mean physically. The thought of freeing the beasts inside terrifies me, I’m too weak to fight them for the front should they challenge me, what if they wake from this operation and I don’t? I hate that that is possible.
I’m so exhausted the marrow in my bones aches just from moving. But they’re used to being alone and hungry, pain is their food, they thrive on it, it makes them stronger, undefeatable.
I can’t tell well meaning people that my history of anorexia makes the excitement of my slowly diminishing physique impossible to reconcile.
I can’t tell people that when they tell me how thin I am getting any fear of death by cancer melts away as fast as the will to live in such a huge body.
To my Anorexia loneliness is an acceptable side effect of being empty, of being hollow. But I don’t want to lose the friends I have now. I don’t want to myself lost and trapped in a box of sadness and yearning for connection to the world I can see but no longer reach.
“We could walk away from this treatment right now… We’re still fat. But we don’t have to be…”
No. Shut up!!
“Run, go on! Just let it take us, let us die… perfect”
Voices whisper excitedly as though they’re planning a comeback of epic proportions; despite the cancer, despite the weight loss we are still a good 13kg heavier than our lowest ever adult weight.
I hate knowing that and I hate that history has a way of repeating itself because history doesn’t care about the consequences.
Strangely I can still mostly eat without guilt. It’s like I have a weird free pass on food, at least until they weigh me again. What if I’ve gained? It shouldn’t matter and yet I know it will.
I hate how much it matters.
The blind weigh in’s I was promised by my “team”are a thing of the past, even with “don’t tell her her weight” scrawled across my notes by one of the hospital dieticians, they seem to mention it almost constantly and now it’s become a threshold in my mind I daren’t creep above.
I’m scared of the “TPN” I’ll be on after surgery almost more than I’m scared of the pain I might be in. It’s essentially tube fed nutrients, vitamins and minerals essential for healing yet in my mind it’s pure oil and fats designed to make me obese.
Intellectually I know it’s stupid, I’ve been told multiple times that this surgery will cause more weight loss anyway. But still I worry more and more, quietly obsessing over whispers in the 2am darkness running my fingers over my collarbones once again, frustrated by how much I’m entertaining these thoughts and shamefully delighted by the feel of my protruding bones.