Friday, January 15, 2010

A Deal with the Devil - Part 1

When I was 12, I made a deal with the Devil.

Even back then, for as long as I could remember, I had a lot of anxiety about my body. I remember worrying about the leotards I wore to gymnastics class when I was only 3. I remember hating the way my thighs spread across my school room chair if I wore shorts in 3rd grade. I remember being put in the row of tall girls on picture day, and assuming that it was because I was fat. There were a lot of factors, but by the time I was 12, I felt like my life was completely out of my control, and I wasn’t happy.

That’s when I met Ana.

There she was. I will never forget that radiant vision of beauty: a delicate, willowy apparition of perfection. Totally beautiful. Totally perfect. Everything I longed for. I absolutely worshipped her. She told me that if I followed her, I would have everything I wanted – beauty, perfection, happiness, security and control.

It was around that time that the Devil himself appeared, reached over and offered me a single, perfect apple. “If you do as I say, and obey me, I’ll give you everything you want. You’ll be perfect. You’ll be like a goddess. Ignore everyone else. I’ll show you the way.”

I had to have that. I knew that I would never truly be happy until I had that life. That body. That control. While there were many aspects of my life that made me feel powerless and ugly, here was a goal that I could fully immerse myself in – and no one could stop me! I gave over my heart and mind. I was strong enough to put off the temporary rewards of today because I had a much higher goal. And that goal became my life.

* * *

Chasing Ana was like chasing a mirage in the dessert. I would chase her to the horizon, only to find that she was still 10 more miles away. I’d look in the mirror, and remind myself how dissatisfied I was. I’d catch her clearly in my sights again. I’d chase her again. Beyond the edge of the horizon – across the sea – over the mountains, down into the valley and back again.

Almost ten years went by.

One day in college, I looked in the mirror and realized that the 12 year old inside of me was thoroughly angry. After all of those years of loyal service to Ana, and following her every command, I only hated myself more. Instead of the radiant image I should have seen by then, my skin just looked gray. My eyes looked dull, and my once thick, shining curls were a dry, straw-like mess falling out by the gobs. Bouts of starvation ate away my muscle, making me feel flabby and weak. When I did become exhausted by the merry-go-round routine and try to eat normally, my body rebelled and my confused belly would swell up horribly. “Tisk tisk. Follow me,” said Ana. Always back to the drawing board – back to Ana. I never felt the satisfaction. I never experienced that confidence – but there was Ana again, promising it just beyond the next hill, the next pound, the next landmark.

Not just my skin, but LIFE was thoroughly gray. I needed to feel something, so I cut. I needed to want something, so I starved. I needed to love someone, but there was too much deep, deep sorrow that needed comfort. It was the deepest, darkest sadness: the one I call despair – which means to be without hope.

No one in the universe can understand despair unless they have experienced it. It is in fact, the very worst kind of sorrow. It’s like the never-ending wail of a person in deep, deep mourning, but carried secretly in your own soul day by day. The person who has no hope feels no reason to exist. No value in being. No motivation to carry on. No reason to wake up in the morning or do something as simple as walk up the stairs. It’s just. too. heavy.

* * *

You see, devils rarely keep their promises.

Where I had been promised success, I only experienced deeper feelings of failure. Where I had been promised glamorous beauty, I had received a broken body. Where I had been promised control, I became more powerless… Where I had been promised love and admiration, I received a string of broken relationships… and then the despair.

Oh no, no escape! No comfort! I wailed in deepest agony, driving my clunky old Honda down a bleak midwinter country road. The sky way gray. Tears, snot and drool all gushed down my gray skin. So much sorrow. Trapped. I could not live any longer with Ana – I wanted to die. But I also felt I could never live without her. How would I face life without her? Could I ever face life without her? I did not believe I could. I thought there was no possible way I could ever be happy by giving up her invisible promise. I was afraid I would become everything I hated. She was so tightly engrained in my being. I felt no escape. No hope. Utter despair.

As someone who has taken your path to the ends of the earth and beyond,

My dear, dear sisters –

Warning ahead!

It’s just a mirage.

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  1. I understood everything you said about how it's just a mirage and and in the end it's all still going to be the same, but why is there other girls who go through anorexia and turn out thin and beautiful? what is ever like that for you? it's the outcome of being ana right? Well was there ever a time when you felt like you could fly by the weight you lost? Were you ever happy with yourself just one time? I just don't enderstand why you say it will all be the same and stuff when there is tons of anas that turn out beautiful?

  2. It's like you know my whole story, and just writes it with better words than I would ever be able to do!

    It's hard to read, because I know it all too good.. Stay strong Kate, you don't know how much you're helping me! Thanks.

    xx Jen.

  3. Our stories sound so similar in the beginning, it's crazy. What in the world makes such a young child believe that she's fat?
    Also, to answer your question on my blog, i have not a clue. It just felt like the story i wanted to tell. Lol.

  4. I remember the same things from ballet and gymnastics....

    I remember one of the other little dancers telling me I'll never be able to jump as high as her because I have too much weighing me down... I quit a week later...

    it's scarry how young these things start isn't it?

  5. thank you for sharing.

  6. I never thought that I'd never be happy with myself. I look back and think I was almost there before everyone intervened. But then, would I have just set more goals? I didn't have a target weight or size, I just wanted to see myself naked without holding my stomach in and be content. It's so confusing, because I feel like I'm in a limbo between packing Ana in and actually getting better, or just carry on pretending so I can lose the weight again. =/

  7. Wow. Truely inspirational <3

  8. Thank you for your comment on my blog :) I'm way more concerned about the way I look and feel and what I can do with my body than how much I weigh. Saying that, I also have weight goals, but should I find myself happy at a higher weight than I planned then that's fine with me!
    I'm hoping to work in a hospital after my degree so it's really important for me to be the pinnacle of health. I also have extremely low blood pressure which makes it pretty much impossible for me to crash diet without literally crashing (though I am considering trying to master cleanse). I don't want to be emaciated, I don't want tubes in my stomach, I don't want blue nail beds, I don't want my blood pressure to drop further putting me at even greater risk of a stroke. I don't want 'Ana' but I do want control, I want fitness and health. I am much bigger than I'd like to be and terribly unfit, I want to love myself and my body and I know an eating disorder is no way to go about attaining love for yourself! I do have periods of binges, extreme guilt after eating badly or more than I really needed to and an obsession with calorie counting but I do not consider myself to have an eating disorder at all - just an obsession.
    Thanks again for the comment :)
    Kiki xx

    p.s, Wonderful post!

  9. I understand and believe every word you're saying.. But I think(as im sure you do too) until you experience the consequences for yourself, no amount of nagging and warnings from those around us will make much of a difference...
    Its great you've written this blog.. Your talking from real experiences and not acting as some hypocritical overcaring nobody telling us to 'Love our Bodies'

    Thanks for the comments btw, much appreciated ;) xo
    love your writing

  10. Amazing post...I totally connected, and I think I'm done with this. I'm seeing the doctor this week, then a nutritionist in a few weeks. I'm going to get out before I get in too deep.

  11. You are an AMAZING writer, by the way.
    Ever consider writing a book? I'd definitely read it!

  12. this almost made me cry because I know, no, I was that little girl in the leotard, that little girl anxious about her shorts on the chair, and now, though I haven't hit rock bottom yet, I have a feeling I'm on the way there.

    As I'm sure you know, when in this state we the health risks and the warnings rarely faze us. We are aware of the damage being done. Occasionally I have times where the truth about ana breaks through the cracks of my wall of denial, but I always seem to seal the leaks. I just wanted to say that your blog is smewhat like a bomb. It does damage to the wall. Though I fix the damage, there are still scars. I just wanted to tell you that in your blog, though it is a newborn blog it has raised many thoughts that in the end may lead to my recovery, I just dont think I'm there yet. But, thank you in advance. Honestly, imnot even sure if this comment makes sense, I just wanted to try to put what I'm thinking into a comment so there it is. Frazzled and confused.

  13. I think most people understand where you're coming from. And thanks for the comment...I told a friend of mine that I thought I was going to start blogging again and she said I should check out your page. I've read all your posts, and a lot of people are right, you do write beautifully and in a way that most everyone here can connect with.

  14. I agree with you, it's just a mirage.
    But we are all too thirsty to recognize that the river doesn't exist. So although we know that the water isn't there, we run as fast as we can to try to catch it.
    But we never do.

  15. ahh, ballet when i was little was the worst
    then jazz ballet, then gymnastics where the skinny little girls pinched my stomach and said I was too fat
    i know thats horrible...

  16. thank you for the comment on my blog. it's nice to hear from someone else like me that they don't think i'm a fat lard.

    and your story.. wow. that's was very moving. i know exactly what you mean about looking at yourself in a leotard and hating what you see. i go through that every day i have dance practice. it's horrible. i wish you well.


  17. You're right about despair. Completely.

    You just stopped me beating myself a little further into the ground. Thank you.


  18. That was just so lyrical. :)
    It may be true, but somehow we just never see it until we are all already chest-deep in this crap.

  19. Thanks for commenting back! Well yes, I see what you mean.. I definitely agree with you.

  20. I don't agree that it's a mirage. Many anorexics like me have a goal weight, and i'm sure you do too. I starved and stopped when i reached 88lbs. I'm happy where I am and have maintained at 88lbs. I feel thin and beautiful and very in control. Maybe it differs from person to person.

    - Chloe

  21. hello kate. i hope your lil sister is well, maybe you can tell us, what really happend - tell us what you know. i hope kat is coming along with your new situation. maybe she is angry, because you once again took ana for your own. she was doing her personal ed thing here, and with all the respect, i can imagin that she is not taking this so easy. i mean once you was the anagirl, and now she invented this on her own. i hope you help her like you want to, and not make it much worst than it was...

    best. lila

  22. You should write a book, you are so brilliant <3<3

  23. That was beautifully written. I can't say I understood everything you said because I've never had Ana to 'lie' to me, but I did understand what you were saying about despair.

    Your blog, even when it was run by 'Kat', has always been a great inspiration, as you both write very well.

    I hope you two patch things up... I gather from your infor bit on the side bar that things are a little rough between you at the moment. It happens between sisters. I know, me and two of my sisters had a war against each other...except it was self harm and suicide attempts not ana.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading more, because you really do write amazingly.
    Keep it up.


  24. You write so eloquently...nd yes the mirage is probably true but i think we often hav to discover tht for ourselves unfortunately, there is something horribly romantic in self-destruction, something so sad. Keep writing, take care x

  25. oh my gosh, i can totally relate to you. i have always felt fat. i'm in high school and i never remember a time in my life where i have felt skinny. somedays i feel too ugly to be loved, and it is hard for me to be myself because i am so insecure. i love to dance, but everyday i look at myself in the mirror comparing my body with the other girls.

    btw you are an amazing writer, this really touched me and i think most everyone who has read this. thank you for writing this

  26. I can relate to the despair, sometimes life is a ride and all I want to do is jump off

  27. Gonna update any time soon?!

  28. Yes - sorry about that! I'll have another post today or tomorrow. :)

  29. Yay, another post coming soon :)
    I've been checking like three times a day just to see.

  30. It is at times, hard to read this blog. I identify with your story so strongly and in so many ways that it brings out emotions I'm not sure I'm ready to feel. I've never been comfortable with my emotions, but I think these are feelings I need to have. You are inspirational.

  31. I miss Kat. I could not be happier that she's finally getting the care she needs and to be honest she was really starting to worry me there toward the end. She shouldn't be on websites like this right now, obviously, but I do wonder about how she's doing. It's really great that you are doing this for her Kate. You're turning something full of pain into something full of hope.

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  33. what a beautifully eloquent post. I rarely comment on the walls of others, but felt this particular story warranted a quick jot :) Is this your own writing or is it a quote-if so by whom and from what publication? I don't mean to be nosy, but it really is a wonderful post.

  34. Wow. Thankyou. I had to go to recovery, and gained 25lbs in a week. There are days I can't live with myself. I'm being monitored, and every time I purge I get punished for it because I am found out. I can't handle the rebound, and didnt feel like anyone understood the dispare feeling. Thankyou for sharing