Zero

Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic depictions of one person’s battle against an eating disorder. This story may contain triggers for anyone currently struggling with an eating disorder. However, there is light and hope and victory at the end of the story - this story is raw and heavy at times but also very redemptive. So join us in reading this and celebrating over comers, if it is what is healthy for you. If not, that is ok too. Keep fighting your battle + we love you.

I wanted to be nothing. Zero. Weightless. I wanted to be invisible. I was free falling through empty space. I counted grapes. I ate less than 800 calories a day and burned more than that on treadmills at the gym. Warp speed. People wished they had my discipline. But I didn’t. I never asked for these thoughts to hover above me hot and heavy.  

I circled around my college campus lightheaded and dazed. Spiraling. I got self-serve frozen yogurt and flushed it right after. I never stuck my finger down my throat, this always surprises people. It was the most natural thing in the world for me to lean over the toilet bowl and let it go. And even easier for me to convince myself I had food poisoning. Again and again. After Thanksgiving dinner I excused myself to the restroom. After two servings of Wheat Thins instead of one. And then just because. No one was stopping me. I was light years away. Out of reach.  

I felt myself expanding but I collapsed in my dad’s arms. I was disappearing. I was numb and cold and lying. I wasn’t fine at all. I wanted my world to blur. I wanted to see my bones. I was vacant. I was always leaving, fading fast. Lifting off toward sweeping darkness. I wanted to look in the mirror and see gaps and indentations. Smooth, flat surfaces. Sharp edges. I wanted to see the missing pieces. I wanted everything to be measured and exact.

I thought I needed to be perfect to be loved. I didn’t deserve to be loved. I didn’t deserve to want anything. I didn’t deserve to be full. Then there was blood and I finally had to admit something was very wrong. Before my mid-semester final, I called my mom and told her I was sick on purpose. During the test I was shaking in my chair, trying to steady my hand. I forgot what I had memorized.

A foreign object had found its way into our orbit. The truth. We weren’t alone anymore. And this terrified me. I didn’t want to lose my eating disorder; I wanted everything to stay small.

A letter was written to the school explaining my condition. I broke the lease of my apartment early and returned home. That was six years ago.

I stopped vomiting immediately. I’ve always had exceptional will power. But I still feel my size two jeans fitting tighter after eating something good. I still think I have to cancel certain foods out with exercise. That I have to earn a slice of birthday cake. I’m still that hateful ghost of a girl sometimes. The one that tells me I should take up less room.

But I can fight against her.  I can tell her she’s wrong. And I can love her too.

Now, my health is safe with my family and the man I want to spend my life with. Even flawed and broken, they still want me. Their support and reassurance reminds me I’m strong enough to keep choosing happiness over neglect. They are my gravity. They center me. I tell myself the body is so much more than an indicator of beauty. It holds me together. It’s the only thing giving me a tangible presence here, the vessel that means I exist. And I want to exist. I want to be here and hug people close and climb mountains and breathe and feel. I want to feel. I guess that’s the difference—now, I don’t mind the weight of my heart and everything it beats for.

My love is bigger than my fear.

And there are other things I want to be besides skinny. I want to be an author. A wife. The kind of person that makes an impact. The kind that’s vast. Now, I want to stretch wider. I admire things that take up space. The night sky. The ocean. A voice.

Megan Magers is a creative writer and book reviewer living in the Los Angeles area with her boyfriend and bulldog puppy, River. She has a hungry heart, an appreciation for the little things and is working on her debut novel. Email 251loveletters@gmail.com and she’ll send you one.