I hate treadmills. They have always smacked of “disordered” to me. Even when I was training for half-marathons and getting in long runs on days when it rained, it was disordered. I wasn’t training. I was killing myself. My training schedule could have survived a one day delay. But my quest for total self-annihilation? That had to be done now.
My family has had a treadmill since I was in middle school or high school, a relic of my mother’s desire to lose weight herself. For the record, I don’t think the woman has ever gotten on the treadmill and my father only gets on it occasionally to see if still works or if we can throw the damned thing out. This treadmill in particular is the treadmill of my disorder.
This was the treadmill I used to wake up at 4 am in high school to run on, the treadmill I later deemed too noisy as I chose to pace frantically back and forth across our bonus room. This was the treadmill that I got on every night when I was first relapsing (long before I knew I was relapsing), determined to push out two miles one way or another. This was the treadmill that I would sneak on to, wondering if my parents knew I had already been to the gym, the treadmill I would run on just to keep warm in those cold, dark days when I was getting sicker and sicker.
This is the treadmill I have been fantasizing about for days. The treadmill I want to get on and walk until I collapse, the treadmill I want to squeeze a few more miles in on after days where I have already met or exceeded my allowed exercise. This is the treadmill I was on at 12:30 this morning, unable to sleep, waiting for pills to kick in, waiting for sleep to take me, if only for a few hours.
Nothing good can come of this treadmill. My wise mind wonders if I shouldn’t just tell my parents to throw it out or sell it or something, but then my eating disordered mind goes absolutely apoplectic. Do you really want to go back to the days of pacing the floor? she asks. It is so much easier to read Unbearable Lightness or Wasted when you can rest it on the display.
Of course, reading these books to spur my exercise compulsion is completely unnecessary. I know these books cover to cover, have read them so many times that they cease to have any emotional impact on me. The serve only to remind me that I was never really that sick and never will be. Because in my eating disorder, as in everything else, I’m never good enough.
It always amazes me how quickly my eating disorder can take over these entries. I mean, the reality is that I am sick (I guess). The fact that I couldn’t deal with salad and a muffin for dinner one night this week and etched the word “fat” into my skin proves that. The fact that I cried hysterically over two slices of pizza this week proves that. The fact that my therapist is terrified to let me take a family vacation because she fears that three days without treatment might send me over the edge proves that. The fact that I was on a treadmill at 12:30 am instead of sleeping proves that.
Tomorrow (er, today), I’ll go back to program and discuss how my holiday went. My holiday that involved lots of walking, some shopping for art supplies, a few pills (of the going-against-my-behaviour-contract variety), a beer (also not allowed on my behaviour contract), and meals that were basically the exact same thing. Salad. Fish. Apples. And a small serving of Cracker Barrel’s macaroni and cheese as I repeated to myself, It’s just one meal. It’s just one meal. It’s just one meal.
I think the holidays are difficult for anyone with an eating disorder and in some ways they provide a benchmark. A friend and I were talking about this, the feeling that you are in competition with yourself and your own eating disorder at times. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the worst for me. I can tell you specifically where I was and what I ate the last two years for Thanksgiving, right down to the quantities. I can tell you how much and when I exercised and how much I weighed.
I can also tell you that in this competition, this year is winning.
Now, if only that were a good thing.