Learning to Accept the Loss

            The following is an excerpt from a private journal of mine.  I wrote this passage around late 2008.  I have never shared it with anyone, of course, for obvious reasons.  But I will share it with you. 
        The things I share on this blog are secret things, which is why I started this blog in this first place.  People in my life who might recognize me in one entry would never (I confidently presume) associate me with another.  I do this to myself. I would like to be more…transparent, however.  Actually, what I “would like” is irrelevant–the fact of the matter is that I need to get used to other people knowing who I am and how I live my life (fyi: I think the psychologists call this “intimacy.”  I am being sarcastic.  Mostly).  
          When I read this passage now, I am struck by the relentlessness of my will.  And I wonder: where did I learn such pitilessness towards myself, and such poorly-applied discipline…? 
            This has been edited only to protect my anonymity.  
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Learning how to lose weight, and how to maintain my weight at its current unnaturally low point, was very difficult.  It took a lot of practice, a lot of trial and error.  Oh, last fall and winter, when I weighed around 140 lbs and I decided I wanted to lose it, I remember how I struggled.  How difficult it was to get down to 135 lbs, and then 127 lbs, and then 125 lbs.  It was so slow at first, and the minute I let my guard down, I would gain again.  I was frustrated at the time; perplexed.  Now I realize it was because I was trying to have my cake and eat it too, pardon the blackly ironic metaphor (metaphorical cake is the only cake allowed around here these days).  I was trying to get thin while still eating like a normal person (a healthy normal person, that is). 
It took me a long time to figure out what I needed to do.  Cutting back on one thing…and then another…and then another.  Eliminating whole groups of food, like pastry.  Making up rules and sticking to them, such as no food after 6 PM.  It was so difficult to do at first.  So painfulSo hard to learn.  It felt so unnatural to give up food and regular eating habits.  I would feel frustrated and cheated.  I was rebellious against myself; I would feel angry at not being able to eat a slice of pizza.  Everyone else was enjoying it, why couldn’t I?  That is how I felt. 
But little by little, I mastered the art of deprivation.  My concentration can be relentless (I guess you could call it a gift if it wasn’t likely to kill me one of these days).  Who in hell devotes themselves to depriving themselves of basic human needs?  Monks?  Hermits? Crackpot terrorists, political revolutionaries, ill-adjusted creative types, professional athletes? 

In any case, I gradually got the hang of it.  I got the knack.  I gave up almost all of the foods I used to eat, and then I learned to accept the loss. This is the crucial part, you see, this is where the proverbial rubber hits the road—the acceptance.   I learned to accept the discomfort of hunger.  I learned how to measure and weigh the portions, how to skip meals when necessary.   I learned how to not eat, and I don’t mind telling you that it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. 

I had to reject social convention, almost everything I used to think about eating, and a lifetime of habit. To accept: I do not eat breakfast; there is no such thing as breakfast for me.   I had to reject corporal instinct; to accept: I am hungry, but my hunger is irrelevant and shall not intrude upon the other matters at hand.  I had to reject the perfidious parts of my brain.  I had to reject my heart, to accept: it hurts to not eat with the others…but what you want you must choose, and what you choose, you must give priority.  

(What you want you must choose, and what you choose, you must give priority.   This is one of my most deeply held beliefs.  Right up there with Everybody has to take a beating sometime, (and I am not talking about the nice beatings). And Everyone pays, even for the things they didn’t do.)  

 Little by little, I mastered my appetite, and then finally I mastered my body.  By the time I got down to 125 lbs, and could maintain it, I had it figured out!  And then I knew what to do, as Sylvia Plath might say.  I made a model of you...  The next 5 lbs was easy.  Size 6, size 4, size 2.  And then finally, I had my old body back.  From the neck down, I looked almost like a teenager again.  When I got down to 115 lbs—which I had not weighed since I was around 20—I stood nude in front of the mirror and assessed myself lovingly, with pride and approval.  The way my hipbones stuck out a little, the cage of my ribs, the flatness of my belly.  My underwear and pantyhose did not indent my flesh.  I felt like I had restored myself to the way that I looked before I met my last great love, Scott, who hit me in a bad way and whom I had to get a restraining order from.
I had re-achieved my beauty (as I saw it, at least).  My autonomy.  And for the first time in years, there was nothing to cause me shame.  A tangible achievement.  I had done something well.  I had, in fact, done something extraordinary. 
But at what cost?  What cost?
That question has no relevancy to me.  

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2 thoughts on “Learning to Accept the Loss”

  1. Fellow Followers,

    First, i have permission to comment from the fabulous Miss Margo herself. But still, what to comment on this extraordinary piece of writing. Layers upon Layers. First we have the bald power of control and autonomy. Then we have nothing about reasons. It is just something that must be done. And then the throwaway about another douche bag male named Scott? Then the threat to take the post down, which would then mean no one would see the threat so the threat must be there to make us pay attention, so she must have thought the piece was important. But why?

    We have seen the scale two years later showing 111 pounds, and at that point she claimed to be sub clinical. So at 115 she must have been in robust vibrant health with rosy nipples and cockily cocked hips. Plus this piece is, to my knowledge, the oldest first person account from the fabulous Miss Margo.

    So what do i feel about the piece. I feel it is the best piece of writing explaining the thrills and chills of anorexia i have ever seen. I am in awe of Miss Margo. What intellect, what courage, what personal power she has! unbelievable. I pity Scott and fear her mother …. and you should too.

  2. It’s kind of odd how dieting and eating disorders work, the way that it starts with you in so much control, and eventually it takes on a life of its own and it’s more like the mindset is in control of you. Compulsion. I think that eating disorders are or become a form of OCD. Maybe it’ll be in the DSM someday, I’m also convinced that seasonal bipolar is a thing, not just winter depression.

    5 lbs loses a clothing size for you? Amazing! Takes ten for me until I get to a certain point. But I’m loads shorter. Small framed, too. So little me wasn’t bony. Maybe my collar bone, and my arms looked small since they’re longer than they should be. Flat stomach yes, jutting hip bones, no. Outline of rib cage yeah and the slight start of a middle line in some lighting, some lighting maybe a couple indents of lower ribs. That’s it. It took getting under 100 for my thighs not to touch anymore, too.
    It’s kinda funny though, the way these weights are normal/thin on you. Starting at the bottom of your weight for height chart. But these weights are also very “normal” (yet considered near or overweight by chart) for women lots shorter than you.
    Thanks for sharing. I know that’s all very personal.

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