Trading in “sick” clothes and wearing vulnerability

Today, for the first time in three years, I bought a new pair of jeans.

I am devastated.

I woke up this morning at an ungodly hour for a day off.  My first inclination was to stay in bed all day and, in all honesty, not eat.  But instead, I decided I wanted some retail therapy and to blow my grocery money (a mere $20) on something to help me feel good about myself.  My wardrobe is made up entirely of “sick” clothes.  Clothes that by all rights I should not be able to fit into.  I am not 100 lbs anymore and haven’t been for a long time now.  But I still haven’t let go of what that number stands for.

I went to T.J. Maxx, the site where I had my first realization that I had an eating disorder my freshmen year of college.  Now, a 24 year old woman, I knew as I walked in the store that this would probably ruin my day off.  Sure enough, I left the fitting room with the familiar chokehold on my throat that had seized me 6 years ago.  But instead of running out and crying to my mother on the phone, I bought some soup and Christmas chocolate and walked home.  I cried all the way.  I cried when I got home.  I ate the soup, I ate chocolate, and I went to sleep for 6 hours.  I woke up, and now I’m crying some more.

Anorexia is a disease.  It is an addiction, and when you choose recovery, you have to deal with symptoms of withdrawal.  Addiction tames you before it hurts you.  As awful as it makes you feel, it also makes you feel high and invincible.  Nothing can touch you.  I miss that.  I miss feeling like I had skin made of steel.  Now I just feel ripped open and vulnerable with mangled guts for anyone to sink their hands into.

So yes, I am devastated.  I know that is a strong word to use in regards to the simple act of buying new clothes.  But to someone with an eating disorder, it’s not just a pair of jeans.  It is a scarlet letter burning, “I’m not good enough.”  Now they’re sitting untouched in a bag at the end of my bed waiting to see if I’ll be strong enough not to return them and exchange them for bad habits.