If and Only If: A Journal of Body Image and Eating Disorders Winter 2015 - Page 77

Alaina Symanovich

Because You Said You Loathe Yourself

This girl shakes her head, her eyes Bambi-wide and empty. Self-loathing—your term, not hers. She shuns such words from her lexicon. Hides from them like a child cowering under the covers during a thunderstorm, lips squeezed tight and white against the noise. She can’t fathom self-loathing.

She drives home alone, lightheaded and trembling from hunger. Hypoglycemia: the term for blood that slowly and silently starves for glucose. A long word for a simple need; she only needs to open her mouth, to eat.

She thinks she exists, this diffident girl. As her printer churns out typewritten stories, in those kisses of ink to paper, she feels powerful. She believes her voice vibrates in her characters’ throats, as if she can experience life by tapping on a keyboard.

She thinks she exists as her body degenerates, muscles straining and bones stress-fracturing from hours of exercise. She hears her worth in the pounding of her Asics on the treadmill, fancies herself valuable because the mile marker ticks higher. She talks to herself on the treadmill, sometimes shouts, sometimes cries. She can cry without breaking pace. She runs until the words she longs to say feel as flat and formless as the soles of her shoes. She runs until the engorged blisters between her toes drain clear, soaking her feet to the arch and ruining pair after pair of socks.

She thought she existed when she huddled in the doctor’s office, shivering because even late June felt like winter on her papery skin. She thought she existed when the hepatologist frowned and gestured at her body, felt complimented when he said, this—this is too thin, felt validated when he said your body is attacking your liver. It could be a number of things, but it’s most likely the anorex—but she shuns that word from her lexicon, too.

She can’t fathom self-loathing.