I am laying in a dark room, eyes closed tightly, jaw clenched. My entire body is shaking – full of anxiety, anger, fear, and loathing that I am completely at a loss for how to cope with. I pray; beg for sleep, for rest, for a quiet mind so I can get up and go to work tomorrow and pretend like everything is okay when clearly it is not. Pretend like I am happy and satisfied and not wishing for a knife and the slow release of blood. It’s not an option, Jessica, I keep telling myself. Not an option.
Beside me, a familiar bed companion. Ed slips into the bed, runs his cold fingers over my body’s contours. The slight pauses here and there let me know he is not pleased with my recent time attempting recovery. With the weight that I’ve put on. With the sudden reappearance of hips and breasts. No words are exchanged in this. None are necessary, our minds still so intimately connected.
My feet keep tapping out their anxious rhythm. My mind keeps racing.
You know, says Ed, If you can’t sleep, you may as well go to the gym. It’s open 24 hours.
No. I put my foot down. I am working hard for recovery. Trips to the gym at 11 pm are not in line with that.
Yeah, you’re right, he says. You’ve really gotten too fat to go to the gym. You need to lose at least 10 pounds before you show your face there again. Why not go upstairs to the exercise bike?
No, Ed. His words are cruel, but the way his hands trail along my body is seductive. That vicious mind meld, promises without words, and I know without his saying what he’s offering: the skin and bones once more, the control, the tiny body and ability to stop feeling all of these things. It is tempting. So very tempting. But part of me wonders if by going upstairs I’m not making a pact with the devil himself. I stay in bed.
Fine, says Ed. My feet are still tapping their anxious beat, the entire bed shaking, my hands pulling at hair in an attempt to quiet the dizziness and screaming in my head. But let’s make sure we do better tomorrow, okay? Just go downstairs and throw away all the unsafe foods, throw away your meds. It’s okay, it’s okay. You’re just trying to be healthy. Get rid of all that unnatural stuff. You’re not exercising so it’s okay.
I consider this. I imagine going through the refrigerator and pantry downstairs and throwing away all the food. Imagine spending the rest of my time house sitting with nothing in the refrigerator but celery and cauliflower. It is a comforting thought. It is a disordered thought and I know it. It is the kind of thought that feels like I am staring the snake in the garden face to face and considering his offer of an apple.
In the end, we compromise. I go downstairs to get my computer, desperate to write and process and feel some connection to someone or something. But first, I toss a prescription bottle in the trash can and wonder how long it is before these meds are out of my system and the obsessive-compulsive tendencies return and allow me to throw myself headlong into weight loss once more.