When it comes to matters of size, I’ve decided that size matters. Size actually matters way too much to me, in all likelihood. Always has. Thinking it always will, barring major miracles that totally change who I am. When I was a kid, I was bigger than most other children. I grew fast, so by 5th grade, I towered over all of my peers. I was at least twice as tall as almost everyone else, even though I was only 5′ 5″. I was wearing a 36b bra by 6th grade. I’m shorter and considerably less well endowed today. For a kid, I was a monster. But it wasn’t just my height. I was bigger all over. I was pudgy, if not quite fat. My hands and feet were even bigger. And I desperately wanted to be a short, slight, waif of a girl even way back then. I wanted to blend in. I certainly didn’t want to stand out like a giant among the Lilliputians. But that’s what I was. And I hated it.
I can remember when I was a sophomore in high school and the band was getting new uniforms. No more ill-fitting hand-me-downs (seriously, I wore the same band uniform my AUNT wore when she went to the high school). But my excitement turned to horror and shame when I went in for a fitting and found the largest size of pants available was a junior 16…which BARELY fit me. BARELY buttoned. They ran small. I usually wore an 11-12 to 13-14. But still. I was mortified. I was flooded with embarrassment. I had to cram myself into the pants and work like crazy to get them zipped and buttoned. I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. I felt hideous. Size matters.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I weighed 173 lbs. I was no longer pudgy; I was fat. I wore a size 16 misses. People made fun of me and rejected me because of my weight. I was an outcast. I tried to pretend like I didn’t care, but inside, I cringed. I tried to hide. I wanted to die. I looked at the cute little girls in my class…the ones the boys followed around like puppy dogs…and longed to be them. Longed to be tiny. Cute. Swoon-worthy. Size matters.
When I was in my late 20’s, I went through a bout of anorexia. I got down to 84 lbs., but I was young and still strong, so I didn’t suffer many of the ill health effects others have experiencedh. Oh, I stopped having a period. I restricted what I ate, keeping my intake at 1000 to 1200 calories, which isn’t too bad. But I ran 13 miles EVERY SINGLE MORNING, rain, shine, snow, wind, lightening, freezing weather, heat, sleet, whatever. I ran. And in the evenings, after work, I walked for an hour and did another hour of floor exercises. Every. Single. Day. I was really thin, but I was in such awesome shape, no one said “eating disorder.” Of course, ED’s weren’t the media darling they are today. Not much coverage; no one talked back then. There were a couple of TV movies made about anorexia. Every now and then, you would see some new article. But barely a whisper. I didn’t think I had one. Even though I fanatically restricted, religiously measured my cereal in the morning, counted the croutons I put on my meager salad at lunch and only allowed myself to eat if I ate within a 30 minute window of “the right time” for each meal. I was rigid, bound, but I felt SO FREE!!!! I was skinny! I could run for miles and miles and miles! Size matters…and I was finally close to the right size!!
That ended when I broke my hip. In two places. From running. My pelvic structure tilted when it broke, cutting off nerves and causing damage. I could no longer run. Or walk. I limped. Even sitting was painful and difficult. It took a long time to heal. To compensate for the lack of exercise, I cut back to 500 calories ever other day, but I still gained weight. I finally hit a plateau at around 125 lbs. Size 7. Not great, but not horrible. I wasn’t happy, but at least I wasn’t disgustingly overweight. People didn’t look at me and want to puke. It took time, but I came to terms with it; made an uneasy peace.
Which lasted until I started gaining again as I got older. Sadly, NOTHING made a difference. None of my efforts kept the weight off worked and suddenly I was a size 12. Then a 14. Then a 16. Then an 18. I despised myself. I hated my body. I loathed what I had become. But I couldn’t exercise because of the previous running injury and no amount of calorie cutting did the trick. Every day was a battle with food. Hating it. Hating me. Hating my size. People rejected me because of my size. They looked at me with disdain. But their rejection and discomfort was nothing compared to my own. No one hated me more than I hated me. And I hated me intensely.
My highest recorded weight was 256 lbs. At this point of an all-time high weight, I hit an all-time low in my life. There were a lot of major problems in my life; a perfect storm of disasters. They culminated in a serious attempt to end my life. An attempt that I was sure would work and was in utter disbelief when it failed. I found myself in the psych ward with a roommate who was bulimic. And something clicked.
Right after being released from the psychiatric hospital, my stomach was pretty much messed up. I had overdosed on a drug that should have killed me. It left my stomach raw and it was difficult to hold food down. Combined with the inspiration from my bulimic roommate, I began restricting and throwing up what little I did eat. Amazingly, it worked! The weight began to fall off. I went from a size 22 to a 20 to an 18 in no time at all. But I didn’t stop there! I had found the winning combination. Eat and puke. Suddenly I was a 16, then a 14, then…oh, my gawd…a 12! Could I make it to a size 10? Piece of cake. Why not an 8? Just like magic, I was there. Size 6, count me in. Moved on to a 4, then a 2…and could it be possible? Could I do it? Could it really happen…a size 0? YES!!! Size matters. Once again, I was the right size. After years of battling. After decades of fighting. Finally, success.
Now, I wear a size 00 or 0. I eat whatever I want every day. I throw it all up. Binge, purge. Binge, purge. Binge, purge. That’s the core of my existence. The bedrock of my daily routine. It’s the sun I revolve around. It’s the only thing that matters to me…staying the right size. Not gaining. No matter the cost. It’s the only thing I have accomplished…the only area in which I’ve overcome. Everything else is a monstrous mess. The lift raft I cling to is that I’m a zero. I love being a zero. It’s the only thing I can seem to get right. And I’m not giving it up. Not without a fight. It’s literally all I have. The one and only thing I can cling to and feel good about. In matters of size, I have arrived. Size matters. And after a lifetime of shame, in this one area, I’m right where I want to be…finally…