xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: The Dive Bar Welcomes: Anna DePlume

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Dive Bar Welcomes: Anna DePlume

Just a reminder that I don't write Dive Bar posts. People tend to get confused by that. For more information about this series, click here.

Today's contributor asked to be identified only as Anna DePlume. Please show her some love!!!

Loving (and hating) Ed

I have a friend named Ed.  He is, by far, the most compelling entity I’ve ever encountered. Ed believes that purity is perfection and deprivation is honor. He has this philosophy about control of mind and body. It's a dogma really. One that is very enticing for those of us who crave predictability and results.

We've been friends for almost twenty-two years, nearly two-thirds of my lifetime. Our relationship is complicated to define, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that I have always carried insatiable infatuation with him.  Maybe it’s not love in the traditional sense, but in many ways the feelings I have for him are as intense if not more. Ed can make me feel like I am the most special girl in the world or most worthless creature to walk the earth. His mind changes on a whim, me at his mercy as to which way it goes.

I want to be special. I want Ed to approve.  

I know it's not a healthy relationship, but it is vital nonetheless. Without Ed I cannot imagine how I would've survived the sudden loss of my father at the obscenely impressionable age of 13, or holding my first born child lifeless in my arms, or miscarriage, or five years of brutal emotional and physical violence, estrangement from my family and friends and divorce.  I have no idea how I would’ve found the determination, energy, or presence of mind to reconcile my son’s Autism diagnosis.

In those “What the Fuck, Universe?” times I crave an absolute power over anything that can be manipulated.  I try to stop mind from spiraling through the how and why of such things.  The search is fruitless and exhausting. Besides, Ed taught me that there are variables which are out of my control and that I can only be responsible for myself and my actions.

He also taught me that my actions have the power to provide the control I seek, in a tangible way that makes all that other stuff almost not matter.  Because if I focus enough on what I can control; eventually nothing else will matter.  Time will pass while I am consumed internally and time heals all wounds, or at the very least numbs the sharpness of the memory, if not the pain.

Through it all Ed has been consistent if not loyal. 

Four years ago today, as I sat in the neurosciences building of our local hospital shaking and crying and signing stacks of paperwork, Ed was with me.  As I begged the Resident doctor to just let me go to my car for one last cigarette, Ed reminded me that I was in control here.  I could leave.  I could do what I wanted.

I went to the car and had that cigarette.  As I paced the garage on that freezing winters’ day, outwardly assessing my options, Ed and I had a terrible fight.  I believed that I needed to stay but Ed told me that if I did I would lose control and there was no shame worse that losing control.  I remember screaming at him through tears, “I am scared and I am sick. God dammit, Ed, I just need to stay for a few days.  I need to get better because I have a child. He is everything to me.”

And in an instant, in that parking garage, Ed abandoned me and I was alone.

I smoked another cigarette and returned to the staging area. I was devastated that Ed left me, after getting me into this mess.  I have never felt so alone. I hated Ed that day and for many days after.

I signed the papers, defeated, and followed the nurse through a maze of elevators and stairs.  When I arrived the door buzzed and locked behind me. The staff rifled through my bags, took the drawstring from my pants and my cell phone, gave me some grippy socks and offered me dinner.  I didn't want dinner.  I wanted to call Ed and tell him I'd made a horrible mistake, that he was right, and beg him to come rescue me from that place. I didn't perhaps out of fear, or spite.  

I hid away in the bed that first night frightened to step outside of my room.  I woke up with my roommate standing over me, staring, in the middle of the night until at last the nurse came and put her back to bed.  I couldn’t go back to sleep and I couldn’t leave the room either. The whole common area was filled with the kind of kids (all grown up) that would've kicked my ass in high school.  There were board games, and IV's, and group, and nutrition counseling. 

At some point I requested the Chaplain, a middle-aged unassuming woman.  I told her I didn't believe in her god but I wanted to talk to her anyway.  She didn't care whether I believed in her god.  She listened.  I told her about the loves and losses of my life. How the one thing I craved was control and achieving perfection and that Ed and I had fought.

At some point in this conversation I became very angry with Ed, for abandoning me when I needed him the most. I broke and I confided in this stranger what she, and seemingly everyone else but me, knew. I told her that I was anorexic.  That I had starved my body and soul by taking up with an Eating Disorder (my cherished Ed) for some 18 years on and off in feeble attempts to numb the pain of loss and disappointment.  She told me Ed wasn't a good friend, but I knew that.  She told me I was going to die if I didn't get control.  “Control, I scoffed. That's what this is all about!  Don't you see that?”

Everything shattered the moment I realized that she was right.  I imagine this is what it feels like to be in a cult and then leave.  To have your whole belief system challenged and obliterated and to know that you were wrong for so very long.

I was disoriented.  I felt horrified with myself. Somewhere along the way, probably very early on, the control I perceived I had was not my own.  It was Ed's.  My liberation was through oppression. Ed had lied to me. 

For days after I was vacant.

I spent five days in a locked psychiatric ward.  Every bite of food I took was chronicled.  I could not use the bathroom or shower alone.  I was weighed backwards.  The number I craved so badly I could only imagine growing bigger and bigger and out of my control.

I was not special. I was just another girl who’d been played by Ed.

Here I am, four years after rock bottom. I wish I could tell you that I never talk to Ed anymore.  You'd think, after nearly losing my life and my family (more than once), I'd find it in me to tell him to Fuck Off.  I would be lying if I told you he was gone.  He will never be gone. 

For the most part I’ve kept him quiet.  Gaining an obscene amount of weight helped.  He was so disgusted with my sloth that he took leave for a while.  There are times when I see what so called recovery has done to my body and hate those people who told me this was the right thing, the only thing, to do. 

He’s there, alright, telling me how special I can be if I just gave it the old college try.  Tsk-tsking at what a shame it is that I’m not everything I could be.

It doesn’t take much for me to let Ed back into my life again.  I promise my infatuation with him is as real as ever.  When heartbreak and misfortune begin to pile up, there is comfort in making the numbers on the scale fall.  There is pride in reaching the point where your stomach gives up and no longer asks for nourishment.

I can't party with Ed like I used to, it's hard on an aging body.

Besides, I’ve seen the light.  I know that Ed’s philosophy is wrong.  I know that worth is tied to so much more than beauty. I know he is disgusted by the curves and rolls I now carry, all of them scars of my attempts at recovery. 

His disdain for my weakness and my failed perfection continues to grow.

I have no doubt, that given the chance, he will kill me some day.

Thirty pounds ago I flirted with Ed.  I was overweight and unhappy with myself.  He promised me I’d get here, and reminded me that here was only the beginning.  He delivered.  On days that I eat more than a protein bar my body promptly rejects sustenance.  Its’ a little quality check Ed puts in place to help me stay on track.  I like the accountability. I see glimpses of the beautiful girl I was.  I know I am nowhere near my goal.  Ed reminds me of that constantly.  I want to tell him I can take it from here.  I can do it without him.  I have a nutritionist and a therapist.  I want to tell him I can’t let this happen again, that I can’t die – I have a child, but there are moments that I believe that pleasing him is worth the risk. 

After all, I just want to be special and I’m almost there.