What Makes Me Strong

We don’t have a scale in our house.

We did, once. My husband had one, when I moved in with him back when we were still dating. It sat underneath the counter, across from the toilet, where I could stare at it every morning. Where I (of course) weighed myself every morning. That was ten years ago. I was a year out of residential treatment for my eating disorder and was arrogant enough to call myself “fully recovered.” After all, I’d been through hell. I’d been in and out of the hospital, in residential twice, and had finally emerged on the other side. I was weight restored and in a serious relationship. Nothing to worry about. I could totally weigh myself.

Um, no.

Not that it was a huge deal. After I left treatment, I never went back to restricting like I used to. I ate meals and snacks and all those “fear foods” everyone had talked so much about. I still exercised–a lot–(that was a demon that would take me on a whole different journey), but my eating was fairly normal from the outside.

It was those damn numbers that killed me, though. Even if I wasn’t going to do anything after I saw the bright red digits flashing before my eyes, they were still there. Imprinted on my brain like the permanent markers I now shudder to think of my daughters getting their hands on. So I went about my day. I ate breakfast. I ate lunch. I ate a snack. I exercised and ate dinner and dessert.

But all the time, there it was in the back of my head. The number. The number. The numbernumbernumber. It pounded like a heartbeat, thrummed like the echo of a guitar chord. Twang! The reverberation lasted all day, up until dinnertime when I could finally relax.

The day was almost over. I could ease up on myself, a few blessed hours of freedom before that metal white demon beckoned to me again.

About a year after we got married, in the middle of a relapse, I threw the scale out the window.

Literally.

We brought the scale down to the living room of our townhouse, I opened up the sliding door and I threw it off the tiny deck overlooking our shared driveway.

I’m not sure if any of our neighbors heard the crash. Usually, at that point in my life, I cared about what the neighbors thought. I cared about what a lot of people thought, most of whom I didn’t even know. But that day, I didn’t care. That day, I stood overlooking the remnants of a torture device that had plagued me for years. Its innards were exposed, its hard and sharp pieces bared to the world. Pretty much the exact thing I’d always been afraid would happen to me.

This was something to celebrate, though. Not that we did. There was too much other stuff going on, too much left for me to work on. It wasn’t time for a big celebration yet.

Actually, there never was a big celebration, never a gala “I recovered from my eating disorder” party. It sounds great in theory, doesn’t it? A huge buffet filled with all the scary things you used to avoid at all costs? Tables buckling with triple-layer chocolate cakes and peanut butter sandwiches. Pastas with cream sauce and juicy hamburgers and full-fat ice cream…

There was never a party, though, because I didn’t need one. As I went on in recovery and hit new milestones–then slid back again before hitting newer milestones still–life got in the way of that celebration. There were shows to watch on Netflix and trips to the local waffle place for breakfast. There were movies to see and graduate school to apply to. There were babies and new homes and life.

There was life.

What there wasn’t were scales.

Yes, I’ve stepped on a scale since that day of destruction. I’ve stepped on a scale when I knew I shouldn’t. I’ve hopped off again and heard that number pounding like a drumbeat in my ears. I’m not going to lie and say that it didn’t still imprint itself into my brain a little bit. Maybe it always will. But it was softer.

I found out my weight when I was pregnant. I knew I shouldn’t have, but I did. I was curious. I knew why I didn’t tell the nurse to keep the scale’s display hidden, too. It was that last vestige of my eating disorder, peeking out from where I had banished it, trying to reach up and pull me down again. I knew it was the eating disorder and I did it anyway.

That was wrong.

But even as I saw my weight, I didn’t absorb it. Even as I heard the nurse tell me my weight, I didn’t listen.

That was right.

Life is a mix of wrong and right, of hearing the devil and following the angel. In reality, I don’t want to be a devil or an angel. I want to be somewhere in between, not wearing white, not wearing red. I want to wear pink.

I like pink. I like pink a lot. It suits me.

I haven’t stepped on a scale in a while, not since I finally made myself gain back the weight I lost while breastfeeding. I don’t want to, either, which is a really refreshing way to feel. My brain feels happier here.

Maybe I’ll find out the number again sometime. Maybe I won’t.

All I know is that I still don’t have a scale in my house. And I intend to keep it that way. Not because I’m weak. Because I know what makes me strong.

*Note: I understand that scales are helpful for many people. This post is purely based on my own experience.

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4 Responses to What Makes Me Strong

  1. You ARE strong, says someone who has always known that, from a distance, even when you maybe didn’t. So for what it’s worth, the next time you feel not-strong, even though I’ll probably never know you were feeling that way, you can remember that there is someone out there in the world (many someones) who knows that it isn’t true. Who knows that you are, and always have been, strong, even when it was a very hard element for you to find in yourself…

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Savor the Moment and commented:
    This is such an encouraging read, I think it displays a lot of the inner struggles and feelings that go on silently behind the scenes that no one realizes exists.

    Like

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