The unbearable weight of being recovered

It’s been six years since you were raped.

It’s been four and a half years since you received your official diagnoses: 307.1 (anorexia nervosa) and 309.81 (post traumatic stress disorder).

It’s been three and a half years since you earned your gold star of being ‘weight restored’ and were rewarded by only having to see your shrink twice a week in outpatient care. 

It’s been two years and ten months since you last saw the man who raped you. 

It’s been one year since you made yourself throw up. 

Congratulations, you’re better now. But you don’t feel it. Sure, you’re not slowly killing yourself from the inside out anymore, shrinking so small with every bite that you are too disciplined to eat. You’ve acquired a comfortable layer of fat around your stomach, your hips, your arms, that your doctors assure you is just fine—very normal!. Four years ago--maybe even one year ago--this would have been enough to send you over the edge, to get up the courage to stop it all. But today, you sit with it. 

It’s not that you don’t care, that you don’t feel each pound like newly poured cement dripping off of your fragile, hollow bones, it’s just that you’re tired. When your shrink asks you how you’re feeling about your body you tell him that you are “fat, but accept living life as a very, very fat person” without a twinge of irony in your voice. He rolls his eyes and says something about fat not being a feeling. He doesn’t have to convince you of this, you know it all too well: fat is not something you feel, fat is something you are. You are fat. You are average. But you are not dead! So, congratulations.

You think about how people don’t give you much credit anymore. After four and a half years, you are no longer a sob story. When you do tell your story, others take it like a badge of honor and applaud you for things like bravery and strength. But the longer you’ve been recovered, the less time people are willing to spend telling you that you’re a very brave girl because everyone has a story to tell and bad things also happened to XYZ and look what beauty they made of it—where is yours, where is your beauty?

You don’t have any beauty to show for what happened to you. You scroll through your social media for hours on end reading the next big story of the very sad girl or boy who overcame something so horrifying and went on to create art or start a nonprofit or change the world, because out of pain comes goodness! You sit for hours on end wondering where your goodness is, if it’s expired completely or maybe, you pray, the pain just hasn’t ended?

You hop from job to job working at restaurants or big name department stores or parenting other people’s children and the only common thread is that they aren’t ‘real’ jobs. People don’t take ‘I’m a nanny’ as a sign of success. They want to know what the plan is, what this job to pass the time will get you to one day. 

You’re too embarrassed to say that you don’t have a plan. Sometimes you have the energy to make something up: a perfect timeline of earning degrees and working meaningful jobs and finding your bliss or whatever. Sometimes you can even make yourself believe it. But the truth is, on a day to day basis, your only plan is trying to convince yourself to get out of bed. 

Being raped isn’t something that just happens, it is something that another person does to you. Another human, who you’re told has so much in common with you, who is maybe even good looking and talented and has his whole life ahead of him. Despite all of that, he still raped you. He dead bolted his door and covered your mouth and laughed when you screamed no and choked you until you couldn't breathe and forced himself inside of you. The bruises never healed and he never looked at you again.

It’s been six years and you haven’t made art or saved the world. The only evidence you have to show for your pain is a soft tummy and a heavy heart and the fact that today, you made it out of bed, so you find a way to live knowing that that is enough.

1 comment:

  1. I've felt so many similar feelings, and I don't have a way to quell the feelings of inadequacy that form because you're "not doing anything." But you've written this, and things like this, and I'm not sure you realize what a gift and what goodness THIS is. Putting all of this, all of these things we don't say out loud in a place that is unforgiving and unsafe is a beautiful, good thing. Keep writing, and try not to let yourself believe that you are not enough. You are enough.