Forum Replies Created
April 30, 2018 at 1:36 pm #204967
Hey, Doris. Thank you for your reply. It has been quite some time since I have been on here, but since then, I have had deep moments of contemplation and have begun to question why I feel this way. I’m not sure if it was therapy or something else, but my mood has been quite good lately, and my self-depreciating thoughts are not quite so strong anymore.
Since attending therapy, I took it upon myself to read or listen to a book for at least 30 minutes a night, and one of the first books that I read/listened to was the Teachings of the Buddha, and then after that, I did the same with the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and then further with Man’s Search for Meaning, and now I am listening to Nitchze’s “Beyond Good and Evil,” and as I examine every one that I have listened to/ read, I recognize a pattern, and it is that no one or society can ever tell us our value, what makes us happy, how we find fufillment- we have to find it for ourselves.
One particularly powerful theme I took away from “Man’s Search for Meaning” is that we should never base our happiness or sense of value on things that are transitory. For when everything is taken away from you, it will be of little consequence. The one and only freedom we have is to choose how we want to perceive our own circumstances and knowing this to be true, I focus on what I can do to make the most of my time in the present moment, rather than fretting over goals or unmet potential.March 12, 2018 at 8:04 am #196841
Thank you very much for the feedback. I guess when I was saying that I don’t ever mean to trivialize, I am saying that I don’t want the humor added to the piece to take away from the seriousness of the situation. I feel that 500 is more relateable when she adds some humor and sass to a situation: it makes the subject matter easier to deal with.
One person that I shared this with said that the story is incredibly sad, and it’s made even sadder by the fact that the author is using humor to deflect her pain. In many ways, I think I personally relate to my character. Most of my life, I have used self-depreciation and humor to deal with depression (it’s really the only thing that has made it bearable).
I am a male, but I know all too well the feeling of wasting away. I purposely made a stylistic decision to exclude any other main characters except for 500 and Margie from the text because I wanted to illustrate how the ultimate antagonist in our own story is ourselves, but we can also be the protagonist as well.
As for the questions to the reader, this is mainly to establish a bridge between 500 and the reader. They say that one of the best ways to establish a relationship with someone is to ask them questions about themselves. In this way, I feel that the questions help establish a relationship between the reader and 500, but I will take your suggestions into account and see if I cannot tweak some things to make them flow better.
On a side note, it is interesting to note that humor actually developed as an evolutionary coping mechanism to stress (laughter was a way to tell those around us that everything was okay).
I guess I wasn’t intending on necessarily creating a simple story, but more of a genuine one: I wanted the reader to really feel like they could imagine what it would be like to be 500, to be someone with a severe eating disorder, as like many mental illnesses, it isn’t understood very well by many people.March 11, 2018 at 7:53 pm #196779
I wrote some more of my story, trying to work on nailing the ending. I really want it to be heartfelt and meaningful, and I just can’t seem to get it. As always, please let me know if you feel that there is something that I can change to make it better. Feedback is always welcomed.
On the outside, however, things were not going so great. I began to be ashamed of having to ask for a sweater on those hot July days, a sweater that while thick, could still not hide the bone thin exterior that lay over my rotting skeleton. At this point in my life, without sounding too disgusting, I was no longer 500, I was a vacuum. Like a black hole, nothing was going in or out of me, which often meant that I had to resort to laxatives to clean out my dilapidated intestines.
Have you ever had to use laxatives before? Well, if you haven’t, I envy you. Imagine for a moment that your asshole is spewing a chocolate fountain that looks like it could belong to Willy Wonka? Yeah, that is about the extent of it.
Being unable to drop the kids off at the pool was the least of my problems, however, have you ever had the misfortune of seeing the smile of someone who had been smoking for years and years and never stopped? Maybe it was the hick next door or your weird Uncle Fred who never seemed to understand basic hygiene skills? I hope you haven’t, but needless to say, stomach acid and teeth enamel do not mix very well, and if you’ve been known for your Kodak-moment smile in the past? Well, yeah, you can pretty much guarantee that will be taken from you, too.
I think romance novels and chick flicks get it wrong. They would like us to believe that love is the only infinite thing in the universe, but I find that this isn’t often true: it is far easier to find things to hate about our lives, ourselves, our circumstances than to love about them, and just when we think that it’s impossible to degrade ourselves anymore, we turn out to be very wrong.
It wasn’t many months until after Margie appeared that I began to realize that I hated something even more than my own body: my blood. I didn’t think it was possible, but it was. Looking back on it, I think the practice of cutting into the deep fleshy part of my forearm was a way to remind myself that I was still alive, that I could feel pain. I’d like to think of pain as being like something we develop a threshold to. After being exposed to it for so long, we don’t even recognize it anymore. I think it was some weird dude with a mustache that murmured something about “existing is suffering?” It seems counterproductive, but on some level I feel that he was right. I feel that we seek out pain on a subconscious level as if we are pinching ourselves awake, to remind ourselves that we are still here. Our blood is our tears that we are crying, but no words are coming out.
I do not mean to ever trivialize the experience of anyone who has ever been through such a hell as I have, but I want them to understand personally that they are not crazy, stupid, or anything else that they think they are: they are just a confused blob of consciousness trying to make sense of this fucked up acid trip called life. I think if a lot of us understood that, we could live, would live in a much kinder, much gentler world.
I think when it comes down to it, we are all doing the best that we can with what we know that we can do. In this sense, I no longer blame myself for those years wasting away as a human skeleton in a suit: it was how I dealt with how I viewed myself, how I viewed the world.
I’d like to think that our lives are a bit like shopping for clothes: we never know the value of what they’re worth until they are marked down to the lowest price, a clearance sale we like to call it.
We’re going through Macy’s or Target or something, and we see a nice skirt or shirt, and think to ourselves: “oh, that shirt is rather nice. I think I’m going to buy it.” Then we go to the cranky apathetic- looking clerk at the cash register, the universe we call him, and try to pay for it, only to find that all those years of accumulated mocha frappuccinos, Aristotle merchandise, and Nike shoes have left us with a big fat zero on our credit cards. Whoops! Life lesson number one: we all have an overdraft fee on our credit card of life, so it’s important that we aren’t too hard on ourselves.
I wish I would have followed my own advice back then. I could see it in the mirror, my body becoming as thin and cadaverous as a Halloween skeleton that I used to dress up as when I was a girl, but I was on an express train to hell and Margie was driving in the passenger’s seat. If she hadn’t controlled every aspect of my life before, she did now.
Phone calls went unanswered by friends asking why I wasn’t attending the office party; being sick was no longer an excuse to avoid work- I was sick, almost every day of my life. My sickness became so commonplace that It became difficult for me to even do so much as take a shower. My muscles creaked like the spokes of an old bicycle tire as I lay sobbing, the droplets of water from the faucet mixing with the droplets of water from my face.
I knew then that I didn’t have to worry about planning out my inevitable suicide. It was clear from looking at my own body that I was already dead, a ghost of the person that I used to be, a haggard cadaver staring back at me from my bathroom mirror. Threats of being fired from my job did not stop me from continuing to fade away into nothingness. As far as I was concerned, I was already fired–from my own life.
There was only one way to end the torment that Margie had over me: I had to end myself.
I remember the day quite well. To be honest, I think I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. It was a Friday in August, but it wasn’t just any Friday in August, it was the type of Friday where no news was good news, where people from all races, colors, and creeds, got together and sang in unison that song of old “thank God It’s Friday, and that next door neighbor is having an all-night basher ,as if she is attempting to tell the world: be right back, I need to go drown out the utter disappointment in my life to the tune of Etta James, Lesley Gore, and Pink.”March 6, 2018 at 10:34 am #196139
Thank you for your input. I will edit my story as necessary and be sure to share my final product with you. I am working on the second half of it right now, and I want it to be to the point where she ends up in an eating disorder clinic.March 6, 2018 at 9:42 am #196123
I also was actually aiming for the flowery feeling to catch the reader off guard when they find out that this person has an eating disorder. It’s supposed to be somewhat jarring.March 6, 2018 at 9:40 am #196121
Hello, Anita. Thank you very much for your constructive feedback. I would just like to clarify a few things: the shower scene doesn’t hold any relevance in particular, except for the fact that it’s a daily ritual that people typically do: use the bathroom, shower, step on the scale, etc..
The idea of the cold water being a Pentecostal fire was supposed to establish a somewhat religious theme to the text, as the Pentecost in the Bible is the showering down of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Pentecostal fire lead to a feeling of renewal and refreshment, so too, does the act of taking a shower.
As far as the numbers that she mentions. I am using the art of show, don’t tell, which is that I want the reader to ascertain from the paragraph that the author works in some kind of field involving numbers, but whether she is an accountant or anything else is not mentioned. So numbers play a big role in her life, but the most important numbers for her are the ones in food.
I hope that clears up any confusion. I appreciate the feedback. If it still doesn’t seem to fit, then I may just remove it entirely.March 6, 2018 at 7:28 am #196075
Yeah, I am working on finishing it at the moment, but I want it to be really wholesome so that it kind of makes the reader stop and think a bit. I want to touch on every aspect of bulimia and make the person understand that it isn’t just some rich white girl problem: eating disorders affect everyone, regardless of background or size. So if you have ideas on how to incorporate elements of that into the story, I would love to hear about it.March 6, 2018 at 7:23 am #196071
What I mean is that I feel there is a misunderstanding as to what an eating disorder actually is. Some people, unfortunately, have the belief that a person with some sort of mental illness can just snap out of it– think happy thoughts, etc.. but that’s just not how it works. When you have a mental illness, you don’t control your thoughts, they control you.
I wanted to specifically target eating disordered behavior because of how uncommonly it is talked about in our society. Everyone that I have shared this piece with so far knows someone that was bulimic, anorexia, etc.. it is not well understood at all, and I think that there is simply a lack of perspective on it.
Our perspective is our story. By changing our perspective, we also change our story.March 6, 2018 at 7:04 am #196061
When I said I feared that my work would not be good enough, I am referring to before I put my work on a public forum.March 6, 2018 at 7:00 am #196059
I meant to say that I found your comments insightful and that they have actually inspired me to develop the courage to submit my work.March 6, 2018 at 6:04 am #196055
It is said that the most dehumanizing thing that a person can ever do is to remove their name, which is why the girl in the story is no longer referred to as Margie, but 500, as in 500 calories. When the only thing that you are is a number, your sense of worth is immediately eradicated, which is exactly what an eating disorder is.
I think that this also gives an objective view into the mind of someone with a disorder such as bulimia because they don’t necessarily see themselves as an individual. Eating disorders are very obsessive-compulsive type behavior, and that’s what I was really looking to get across.March 6, 2018 at 5:55 am #196053
Yes, I’m sorry. I did get your reply. I found that your comments were very helpful. I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear before. My goal at the moment is to deal with my depression through creative writing and expression. This piece on bulimia came to me when I thought of how very few people understand what it is like. Suffering from mental illnesses most of my life has allowed me to look at the world in different and unique ways.
My goal with this piece is to be as authentic and wholesome as possible. Although I have suffered from major eating disorders in the past, I have never experienced bulimia.
I am hoping that I can submit my work to a literary magazine and hopefully change the rather narrow viewpoint a lot of people seem to have on mental illnesses.
As for hating yourself being a drug, I certainly think it can be. You become used to the feeling and develop a strange kind of addiction to it. A lot of people with eating disorders carry the immense burden of self-hatred and guilt, myself included, which is why when you view it as removing parts of your toxic self, it can be exhilarating.
I hope that makes sense.March 5, 2018 at 10:49 am #196003
Today is the day I find out what I’m made of. Today is the day that I see for myself just how pretty I can be.
I shower my body with cold drops of water, a pentecostal fire renewing me with every freezing drop of liquid. My heart beats with the intensity of a snare drum as the facet creaks off. The ritual is about to begin, and the priest is waiting to pass judgement upon me.
The scale of my life shifts with the weight of the scale in the bathroom. I breathe in, the oxygen escaping the room and into my lungs. This was the moment, my moment, the arbiter of my destiny. The scale begins to whir like the gears of a complex machine roaring to life, and I brace myself for the judgement I am about to receive.
126.5 the scale flashes back at me. The number cuts deep, deeper than any knife ever could. This kind of wound is the wound of the heart, one that cannot be seen, only felt. I look into the mirror and a menacing reflection of myself laughs in triumph at my despair. Margie, I call her, a name just as despicable and pathetic as my own.
“Ha, that proves it, I hear her say. You are worthless after all. You think you’re beautiful, sweetie? You’re not. You want to feel beautiful, sweetie? You got to be beautiful.’
I get ready for the day, putting my business skirt and shoes on. My coat hangs past my arms as if I were a kid trying to wear his dad’s jacket. “A small? I hear Margie say in a mock tone of voice. “Surely, you can do better than that, fat ass.” I didn’t say anything, but the worst part is knowing deep down that Margie was right.
As I walk to work ,every glass window, bathroom mirror, and cafe is a reflection, a reflection of the fat, ugly monster on the inside.
The world I see is not one of qualities and colors, but of numbers. I deal with a lot of numbers in a day. Number of hours on the job, number of clients helped on business calls. Numbers are everywhere, numbers are life, but the most important numbers are in food, in calories. You see, Calories are more than a number. They are an identifier. Just as everyone has different eye color, facial features, and birthmarks, everyone has a different number of calories. If I didn’t know anything else in my life, I knew this: the number 500.
500, 500 card game, 500 Days of Summer, 500 Miles, the Proclaimers. Da, da, da, da, da, da, the music of my life always and everywhere followed the rhythm of 500. This was who I was, not Margie, not a girl. 500. If someone came up to meet me, I would respond: “Hello, 500 is my name, nice to meet you.” But sometimes I admittedly was not 500, sometimes I got tired of carrying this name around with me and was 2,000, maybe 3,000. I could hide it for awhile, stuffing the Twinkie’s rappers underneath my bed, but it wasn’t long until Margie found out that I had my hands in the cookie jar, and she was not happy.
“3,000! 3,000! You think you’re 3000! You’re not! You’re 500 and you know it!” Margie points a long bony finger to the bathroom door, as if putting a disobedient dog in its kennel, a menacing smile appears on her face.“ You know what you have to do.” I shake my head in protest, but Margie is resolute, as firm as a statue. She puts a long bony arm around my neck, as if she were a serpent squeezing its prey. “
You want to be beautiful, don’t you? Well, you better start acting like it sweetie. Now get in there and do your business!”
I saunder to the porcelain throne, obeying the orders of my queen. The queen and the throne in history were one in the same. They are the same.
The human body is meant to eliminate waste, it is proper, it is natural. To go against this is to go against the laws of nature. Expulsion, then, is not a burden but a necessity, expulsion of food in particular is a necessity. Let me be clear: what I was doing was what every single religion ever taught has ever done: seeking repentance. Ridding myself of all those awful, awful calories was a form of confession. I was confessing, confessing my sins to Margie that I was no longer 500, and that by going through the proper rituals of initiation on the pew, phew. I, too, could be born again, a 500.
I wonder now as I did then just how many women were indoctrinated into the cult of 500, seeking repentance everyday by ridding themselves of all that envious glucose and sugar and fat, only to find that like a drug dealer, you were always waiting for that wonderful dose of self-punishment, that burst of adrenaline that reminds you just how wonderful it can feel to truly hate yourself.
Make no mistake, I was a drug dealer, but the drugs I dealt were not cocaine, nicotine, or heroin. No, the drugs I dealt were the ones I gave myself. Hatred and imperfection were like a drug, giving me an inescapable high everytime I could purge myself of all the awful crap inside of me just to do it all over again. It was more exhilarating than a roller coaster, more pleasurable than sex.
I don’t think most people go through life intending to harm themselves, to make themselves purposely think that they are the most ugly piece of crap in the world, but I guess it just kind of happens. Somewhere along the line someone makes a comment about how fat we are, how we have zits on our nose, or something like that, and apart of us just dies on the inside. It doesn’t help, of course, that women are constantly bombarded with images of starving models, rail thin bodies, and utterly ridiculous crap like: “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Clearly, whoever wrote that has never tried cheesecake because cheesecake is just fucking amazing.
My initiation rituals with Margie continued on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Every week the scale got lower and lower, but my confidence in myself did not get any higher. It didn’t matter if the scale read 122: I wanted to push the envelope. “122? Screw that, why not go to 115, 110, 90 lbs?” It was like a game of limbo with myself where everyday I would repeat the same sing-song mantra “how low can you go,” “how low can you go?” Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t testing at what point I would just disappear into thin air, like some kind of screwed up David Copperfield trick because that was exactly what I was doing.
As the weeks went on, dressing in my small clothes was like a baby wearing a business suit: far too baggy. So I began to shop for extra small, kid’s– sometimes I wonder if some of the shoppers didn’t stop to look at me, but I quite frankly didn’t care. I was agent 500, and I was on a mission to stay that way.February 28, 2018 at 7:56 am #195217
Sorry, I posted it twice.February 28, 2018 at 7:55 am #195215
And another one:
The Door to Dreams
Somewhere along the specter of an ethereal plain lies a door to dreams of things of yet to unfold, to tales of stories yet to be told, a spirit searches longingly for the place it calls home.
“Oh, why must I suffer to live a life in such pain”, the spirit cries. “I know that I can indeed be selfish and vain, but to live such a life is no life all all when the door to dreams lies just beyond a wall.”
A wall that is more than a centimeter deep, that lies between the state of restfulness and sleep, and causes the spirit of my eternal soul to weep.
The wall is not a wall at all, but is rather me and all.
Since all that exists will fall and all that there is is me, I wonder along this winding road, this contorted path, just who it is that I am meant to be?
I cannot see for I am blind, I cannot hear for I am deaf, but the only thing I know for certain is death.
It comes to me in the night, which causes my heart great fright, but the scream of my tethered spirit is heard in vain, for the only thing that I am is a name.
A name that carries with it this weight of great shame. For in the end, I remain a lonely spirit trapped in this vessel called a brain.
The cries of the soul are heard on deft ears, the dreams of dreamers are felt in tears.
Of dreams that may not nor ever will be, of things that I may not nor ever will see, I lie awake in fear of who I might be, when I awake from the dreams of things that cannot nor ever will be.