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Anorexia Still Lives in My Childhood Home

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

My parents have a blue front door. When I was little it was my favorite part of our home. But now the navy makes me nauseous, makes my legs shake as I step towards it and makes my palms sweat as I reach out to push it open. I know what still lives behind it.

I walk through the front door and I am 17 years old again. I am freezing cold. I am sitting at the dinner table, hiding my food in napkins and slipping them into my pockets. My dad is hugging me and crying, and I am lying to his face.

I am running inside, hungry and desperate, crashing through the screen door and throwing my backpack aside as I try to reach the kitchen faster. I watch from above as my body begins eating without my permission. After emptying the cupboards, I guide myself to the bathroom to undo this damage.

I am staring at the picture frame filled with fish that hangs above the toilet and bending over, performing the same ritual I had every day before that one.

My parents renovated that bathroom, hoping that the changes would erase those memories for me. But it’s still made of that same drywall, no matter how many coats of paint cover it.

I walk upstairs to my old bedroom. Standing over my bed, I look at the green blanket I’ve had since I was little. I left it behind on purpose, knowing that the months spent writhing in pain underneath it have been woven into the fabric. Lying there, I felt my organs slowly fail. I woke up gasping each night, plagued with nightmares about butter and flesh. Death feels familiar here— the way it filled this room, the way its presence somehow felt comforting, the way it lurked so close to me.

I wish I could say it was all over, that I can eat and not care, that I don’t sometimes miss my emaciated body or the toilet bowl, but that would be a lie. I don’t cry over toast anymore, but I still struggle to walk through that blue front door. I still feel anorexia’s presence echoing through the halls, but at least now it fades into the wallpaper which I can cover in pictures I love. When I close my eyes, it doesn’t crawl into my bed and wrap me in its arms, digging its nails into my skin. Its voice is a small hum in the background and even though its always there, I can usually drown it out with music.

Maybe the hum will be even quieter in my next home. Maybe a few homes after that I won’t even remember the sound of its voice or the pull of its gnarled fingers. Maybe I will build my own house and not leave space for it to hide under the floor boards. Maybe one day I’ll turn the corner and see its left me the spare key, packed its things and finally moved out.

Unsplash via Kinga Cichewicz

Originally published: November 20, 2018
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