I was at the pool today working out. Before going out to the pool area, I was in the washrooms and, well, there isn't a lot of privacy so I could tell that someone had a bad case of diarrhoea. Later I realized that the person was a very thin woman who went to the washroom three times during the hour I was at the pool. She spent most of her time either in the hot tub or in the washroom. She seemed quite nervous and, sort of, driven -- moving around a lot, agitated, just not comfortable in what is for me the most comforting place on earth. She drank at least 2 liters of water during this time (which could, I guess account for the washroom trips, but I had the feeling there was more to it than that). I, of course, have no real way of knowing the actual story.
But seeing her brought back memories. About 14 years ago, I lost 130 pounds. I took synthetic amphetamines, ate 800 calories or less a day, ran two miles a day and, yes, I abused laxatives--metamusal, green tea and x-lax were important extras when I hit a "plateau" in weight loss. I was motivated.
I was successful. In fact, my story was told at the weight loss clinic that gave me the drugs.
I couldn't reach my goal, however, and I remember that instead of feeling great about the 130 pounds I lost, I became obsessed with the 15 pounds I couldn't lose. I became addicted to the drugs and expanded my repertorie, as it were. I quit the drugs because it got crazy and all I was doing was taking uppers and valuum and drinking alcohol and well, it got crazy. But I didn't stop the laxatives until some time later. It took a while for me to understand what I was doing to myself. And let me make it clear. I was a lucky one. There is so much more damage many women have done to themselves. I was a "borderline" case.
Perhaps I read too much into the woman I saw today, but she just seemed so driven, so obsessed and it was sad to see it, to feel it again.
I quoted Audre Lorde in the comments section at Fatshadow a couple of days ago. It seems pertinent here and now:
"Recognizing the power of the erotic within our lives can give us the energy to pursue geniune change within our world, rather than merely settling for a shift of characters in the same weary drama."
How much creativity, how much love, how much brilliance is being lost because so many care more about their bodies? It really is such a weary drama.
I told Carl in the car on the way home from the pool, "Tish sometimes talks about dieting as a project. But it really wasn't a project for me because I know what it feels like to finish a project. When I wrote the dissertation and saw it printed out for the first time or saw it bound for the first time, I thought, wow, I did that. But when I lost all that weight all I could think about was losing more and fearing that I would gain back what I had lost. There was no satisfaction, so sense of accomplishment except for fleeting moments when people commented."
For some it might be a project. For me, it never was. It was a weary drama and it is costing us too much.