When you have an eating disorder there is no easy way to deal or manage family dinners. It’s even worse when you have to drive nearly two hours to go to a dinner you don’t even want to go to.
As she drove the excruciating long two hours to her Grandmother’s house she wanted nothing more than to just turn around and head home. Her head filled of selfish, self hating, food thoughts and played over a hundred fictional situations in her head, “Let’s waste my own gas and drive two hours out of the way to go sit and eat in front of people. This is dumb, I don’t even want to go eat. I don’t want to sit down with my family and eat.” “I could be home, reading, at the gym, napping, hell, I could be out on the lake. ANYTHING.” They played over and over. The first thing to break her brutal cycle of thoughts, “Can I use your hairspray?”, came a peep from the backseat. In the rear view she sees her little sister, Liz, a spitting image of a younger her. “Huh? Oh sure babe, it should be in my gym bag.” She dug and found it, then continued to sip on her Starbucks cookie crumble frapp, her blue sparkling eyes looking back at her big sister. The cycle of thoughts continued, realizing how very content and satisfied she would have been to just have her coffee and not go to dinner at all.
After arriving to grandma’s she had found the rest of her family had beat her there. Her parents were inside, while her brother, Jon, did flips in the front yard. Talking and polite conversation continued for a few minutes, then it was off to eat. Jonathan, being a teenager, was a bottomless pit, with an appetite that was insatiable. He got to pick dinner, why? she would never know. Without even missing a beat he chose an Asian buffet.
“Why don’t I just jump off a bridge now.” She thought to herself.
When they got to dinner all she could look at were the hoards of people, all swarming the buffet, the tables that had stacks and stacks and plates. The never silent voice of the ED reminded her how all of them were staring at her, watching her. It pointed out that with each plate that the people were stacking up was inches on their waist, miles needing to be ran. The family was seated near the back, while Jonathan and dad went for food, grandma, mom and Liz sat there talking. When it was her turn Liz grabbed her and headed for the sushi. She too grabbed a plate full and some green beans, hoping that for once she would win against the voice that had haunted her for years. As she looked at the sushi, she began to feel physically nauseous, and handed half of them to her brother who was already making is way through his own mound. After picking at two pieces of sushi and the green beans she took a break to calm her anxious self down and make polite conversation.
Her mother and grandmother both looked at her plate of three pieces of sushi and the green beans, and looked at each other. They both knew about her struggle, but were both too busy to ever care to be bothered by it. Like everything else, it was ignored, swept under the rug, and never spoken of. Jonathan showed Grandma the picture we had taken together earlier, of a 14 year old boy with his 21 year old sister on his back, to which she responds with, “Well, yeah, since she barely weighs anything.” That was the start of it. Mom took another glance at her daughter’s plate and said, “I hope you are eating more than that.” All she wanted, was to be home, or at least back in the car drinking her now lukewarm cup of coffee.
On the next trip up to the buffet, hand in hand with her 9 year old sister who eats more than she does. She skimmed the endless rows of “fear foods” and surveyed the other people to see if anyone knew her. She sat back down at the table with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and curry chicken. Also feeding half of that to her brother, she picked at it, while Liz began to put mushrooms on her plate; the two of them loved mushrooms.
Dinner continued like that, a war zone in her own head with each bite she took, feeling nauseous, regret, and embarrassed, still believing she was being watched. Towards the end, the waiter came with a handful of fortune cookies. Jonathan took one, Liz took one, Grandma took one, and she hesitantly did the same . Cracking it open, Jonathan read his, “Your efforts have not gone unnoticed”, it said. She looked down at hers, did an ironic laugh under her breath and looked away, trying to not cry or throw up. She txted Jonathan across the table, it read, “My fortune is dumb as hell.” He read the message then looked across the table, asking aloud, “What was it?” She looked up, trying to choke back tears, and reluctantly answered, “It says I shouldn’t eat so much.” Another quick glance was exchanged between mom and grandma and they both replied with a “Nuh, Uh.”
“Moderate your appetite so that with a little you may be content.”
The ride home was nothing but her and ED, arguing the entire way home. The two hour ride made it even worse, and at one point, the tears streaming down her face matched the pace of the rain falling outside against the sunroof.
Man, yesterday sucked.