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Monday, September 2, 2013

Hunger Pains

Justin was sleeping off eight beers and a couple shots of Crown. With the grace of a gymnast, I inched to the foot of the bed, bypassing the creaky spring on my side.

The kitchen reeked of barbecue sauce. We’d been too tired--and drunk--to put away everything once the guests left. Justin’s signature queso dip had congealed after sitting overnight in the crockpot. As I shoved spoonful after spoonful into my mouth, I felt the familiar heaviness in my stomach.

The fridge was a gold mine. I found four pieces of the blueberry cheesecake our neighbors had brought and half a pitcher of homemade sweet tea. I gulped the tea, knowing the liquid would make the release easier when the time came. I ate the cheesecake with my hands, slurping fruit syrup off my scarred knuckles.

There wasn’t time to savor. There never is. Justin could walk in at any minute and find me polishing off six servings of lasagna. (You would think he’d notice we rarely have leftovers.)

I go to the restroom so often my coworkers probably suspect I have a cocaine habit. I might prefer that to them knowing I binge on Little Debbie’s. I’ve found that if I puke into my hand over the toilet bowl, the vomit doesn’t make that sloshing noise when it hits the water.

*

The dishes were soaking when Justin came down.

“Why didn’t you wait for me to help clean up?” He asked, with an alcohol-induced rasp.

“It wasn’t too bad.”

“Did you get any of those ribs Tim brought?” Justin languidly surveyed the fridge. “Damn, they were good.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You did eat something though, right?” He squinted at me before swigging from the milk carton.

Justin has always blamed himself for not realizing sooner I was anorexic. I’ve been out of treatment for three years now, and I’m almost at my recommended weight. But he still worries about me starving myself.

“Yes, Honey,” I reassured him. “I ate.”


#


This week's Trifecta Writing Challenge: The entry must be 33-333 words and include the word "grace" as defined below:

GRACE
a: a charming or attractive trait or characteristic
b: a pleasing appearance or effect : charm <all the grace of youth — John Buchan>
c: ease and suppleness of movement or bearing



Word count: 333 

51 comments:

  1. Oh, man, what a killing end line. Well done.

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  2. Wow. Great story with a gut-kicking ending!

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    1. "gut-kicking ending"

      Love that feedback. :) Thanks so much!

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  3. Strong tale about a mysterious illness...

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  4. Wow. Very nice. Although it is difficult to understand this illness and so also, difficult to see I think it's so important for us to make each other aware of it. In that way we may begin to conquer it. Your story does that very well. It begins with us being disgusted and ends with us trying to understand. At least that's how I read it. Great job.

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    1. I'm humbled by your feedback. Eating disorders are tragic, confusing--and yes, disgusting on many levels. My hope was to present a realistic POV of a sufferer. Her relationship with food is foreign to us, but this is everyday life for her.

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment!

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  5. So this is what Karen Carpenter meant by rainy days and mondays.

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  6. Very emotional story of bulimia/anorexia. As someone who dealt with a skewed body image in high school and college, and starved myself regularly, this hit home. (Lied a lot about a eating, but never did binge/purge, though.) Now, on the other side of it 20 years later, I can't understand how I thought I was 'fat' at 5'6" and 100 lbs. It's messed up.

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    1. Janna,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I can certainly relate to the skewed body image. I always thought I was fat in my teens and 20s. I would love to look like that now. But I don't, so I'm really trying to develop a better relationship with my body as it is (which is so important now that I have a daughter to influence).

      Thanks again for opening up about your personal experience!

      Delete
  7. Terribly said ,yet compelling too.Gives us a perspective of what it must be like to be on the other side of the fence-well done Ivy & yes,am voting for your blog Momma :)

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    1. Thank you, Atreyee! I wanted to present this topic in a sensitive, yet honest manner. So, your comment is very gratifying for me.

      P.S.: Thanks for the vote! :)

      Delete
  8. Moving story. I don't understand this illness, but I worry because my oldest daughter is so worried about gaining weight. To the point I had her family doctor tell her she was exactly where she needed to be. If it's addiction to drugs, I have it covered. This is emotional but maybe useful to someone reading.

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    1. Thanks, Donetta. I worry about my little girl, too, because she's at that age when her body is starting to change. I hate that we females get so caught up in how we're "supposed to look." I'm trying not to pass on my bad body image habits to my daughter. It's tough, though.

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  9. Excellent. The scarred knuckles the co-workers thinking she had a cocaine habit AND that she would rather then think that then know the truth, really sealed this piece up tight. I agree that last line was so effective because of the wonderful construction. I also thought her matter-of-fact view of the whole situation was exactly dead on.

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    1. You can't imagine how much your comment means to me Thank you so much! I'm glad the voice came across true for you. "Matter-of-fact" is exactly what I was going for.

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. :)

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  10. Great work! I've had a friend who struggled with this. It's sad to witness and you feel like there isn't a whole lot you can do to help.

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    1. Thank you, Melissa!

      I can't imagine how helpless I'd feel watching someone I cared about dealing with this. I hope your friend is doing better.

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  11. Beautifully crafted, well told story! The last line is the best.

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words!

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  12. I really enjoyed this - thank you for raising this issue in such a clever way.

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    1. Thanks, Freya! I think this issue is so misunderstood. There is a tendency to be less sympathetic, thinking the victim should just stop doing this to him-/herself. It's not that easy.

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  13. What an incredibly well-crafted story about an eating disorder--it left me sad and disturbed yet grounded and grateful. Thank you for writing this.

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    1. Sandra, I really appreciate the wonderful feedback! I am humbled to know my story produced such a range of emotions. It's a tough topic, without a doubt.

      Thank you so much for reading!

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  14. I wish no person ever had to suffer this way again, because somehow we would all feel that our bodies were perfect just as they are. I worried about this with my daughter-charting a course through a few months where she didn't want to eat anything because she was enamored with the idea of thinness. What bugs me is that I always tried to tell her she was already perfect-but between peer pressure and the media it's a full time job making someone believe it!

    Excellent writing Ivy!

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    1. I wish the same, Valerie. When I was a teen I thought it would be great to be anorexic for a month. Warped, right?

      Trying to raise a confident daughter is so hard with the unrealistic images in the media. I share your frustration. I applaud Dove's Real Beauty campaign for showcasing a variety of body types, features, etc. Wish more companies would follow suit.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a heartfelt comment!

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  15. You painted a vivid picture of this broken person so well. I felt connected.

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    1. Thank you, Ben. That is wonderful news!

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  16. Replies
    1. Good ... I think. :)

      Thanks for reading, Draug!

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  17. This is a fear that strikes in the hearts of moms of daughters, I think. Your ending was spot-on. Thanks for linking up. Don't forget to come back and vote for your top three at the end.

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    1. Yes. The thought of my daughter going down this path terrifies me. Thank you for stopping by!

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  18. You've depicted this perfectly. I knew right away what was happening. I watched my mother struggle with both anorexia and bulimia for years (strange that for so long I thought that junk food cabinet was for me and my sister). I watched her collapse and be hospitalized in the psych ward for a few weeks when I was nine. I listened to her tell me I could use a diet. Should definitely diet. I believed her (so shocking when I look back at pictures of my average-thin body). Luckily I never succumbed to the physical side of this disorder that I worry still claims her, but every day I look in the mirror is a struggle to accept myself. Such a sad, destructive disease. Apologies for the long comment, but this touched me.

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    1. Your comment gave me goosebumps. No lie!

      On one hand, I'm glad my story touched you; on the other hand, I'm sorry it touched you because of your personal experience. It makes me sad to think of your mom putting her issue on you by telling you to diet. But I guess she couldn't help it. Thankfully you managed to avoid an eating disorder in spite of that.

      It sounds like you have quite a powerful story to tell. I'm sure you could do this issue more justice than I have, but that may be difficult since you're so close to it.

      Thank you so very much for being this candid! I am floored/honored/humbled that my story is getting people to open up and share their own experiences.

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    2. I think you've very much done it justice, but maybe I'll write about it someday. Usually your stories make me actually laugh out loud. I liked that this was very much different but still maintained your unique voice as a writer. Definitely shows your range.

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    3. Thank you so much. You've made my morning! Trifecta has really encouraged me to stretch myself. My go-to is humor, but I do love to mix it up. It's always nice to catch readers off guard. :)

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  19. so powerful...all our unseen addictions...it's funny how the only possible "cure" is exposing ourselves.

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    1. That is an excellent point and why so many people don't get the help they should.

      Thanks so much for reading!

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  20. The worst kind of lies: the ones we tell ourselves.
    Great description of an all-too-prevalent illness.

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  21. Dude, this was harsh. And I mean that in the best way. It is such a personal matter of fact look at an illness that is not rational. Bravo.

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    1. Thank you, Jen! That's exactly the voice I was hoping to achieve because the way she deals with food is normal to her.

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  22. Something so simple and natural for so many people is a tragedy and battle for so many others. Nice write - you manage to bring warmth, even irony, to a difficult and often personal subject. Well done for including Justin.

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    1. Thank you for the lovely feedback! I'm glad you mentioned Justin. I was hoping to show his casual attitude toward food (e.g., the way he disinterestedly stares in the fridge and talks about the ribs) as a contrast to the way food consumes her.

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  23. that last line is perfect. sad story, great writing

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  24. You set the scene beautifully. What struck me most was when you said she was almost at her recommended weight, yet it seems she is continuing to fight this accomplishment. A lovely piece :)

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    1. Yes, I think she's doing what she needs to do to get by (so she won't raise suspicions or be forced into treatment again). I love that you picked up on that!

      Thanks for the wonderful feedback!

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