Life Sentence

Trigger warning: This post contains an extensive discussion of anorexia and a moderate discussion of abuse.

Your eyes are drunk, self. Between the commands from your shrink-wrapped brain and your body’s response, there is a lag.

You were walking, self, and then you were falling. It felt like hours and dying. But you fear doctors, self, blood pressure cuffs and waiting rooms. You fear probing hands.

Besides, self, you say, you are not worth the money.

Your collarbones are signatures, your ribs reminders. At night you pillow pencil-sharpened knees. There is still too much of you. You have lost pounds, more pounds than you should say, but you have expanded.

Self, the worst days are not the days you cannot swallow. Those are like tumbling down stairs. The worst are when you eat the fridge; your mind gains weight.

Here is a secret, self, you cannot tell: when people ask what you have eaten, you want to say

the truth

like it’s not shameful.

Your body feels big, but you hate bigger. If your hands did this to someone else, your prison bars would be metal, not skin. Body cries for food, for water; how dare it? Doesn’t it know? You are jammed inside too tight a space, so claustrophobic you cannot think.

Only panic.

Who is lying, them or the mirror?

Here is a passage, marked in blue, from the book that taught you to read:



1. you

“You are not desirable,
And not worth fighting for,
And you do not deserve,
Or kindness.”

Here is a different lesson, from a better book (keep it open to this page):



1. what you are

“They will hold your hands, because you are not too much;
They will carry you, because you are not too heavy;
They will tend you, because you are not too needy—
And even if you were,
Love does not require
That you meet standards.”




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