Summer has always been magic for me. I'm not sure why. I guess for the majority of people it usually is.
Sometimes I just want to tell you all stories because memories come in pieces to me and then emotions, and I just feel the need to open the window and let them out, so I will.
I was 15, going on 16 when I got my first real job. It was working on a ranch of one of the people we went to church with.
At the time minimum wage was$6.50, I think. I got $6 and free room and board since I stayed there Sunday night or Monday to Friday, maybe Saturday depending on the work needed done.
This was when my eating disorder was at it's strongest and when I was just realizing that I wasn't dieting.
I was anorexic.
It still didn't quite click though.
It was just nice to know that I would have a job, be making money, and get out of my house that was so suffocating with all the turmoil.
For a few months I had an older boyfriend (18 or 19).
A cowboy for sure. He could actually stand on his horse and crack a bull whip and the horse wouldn't bolt or move an inch.
I remember us riding in that old beater pickup of his, me in the middle, country music up, him shifting gears and my hand on his Wrangler jeaned thigh until we were at speed and he would take my hand in his.
Seems cliche, but even as I write this I smile at the thought of it.
Back then I was even more emotionally unstable. Everyone had just found out about my sexual abuse and I was an emotional ticking time bomb. I couldn't bring the same amount of feeling he could.
He left me at the beginning of the summer, a little after maybe. At the time I think he may have been seeing someone else, maybe cheated, I don't know.All I know is that I found I was heartbroken, emotions surging where they didn't belong, long after the fact. Story of my life.
And so, my summer began.
The work is hot and hard and I have even more respect for those that make their living in agriculture.
With daughters grown and out of the house, M and D gave me their youngest's room to stay in.
M would knock on the door at 7 am to rouse me from my tired bundle of blankets and bones.
Hair up, old jeans on, tank top.
Pulling my sleepy eyed self to the breakfast table.
It was meager, if I remember correctly.
M and his wife would eye my food, maybe lightly tell me I would need a little more than that for the busy day ahead. We would say grace and ask for a productive day ahead, give thanks for things, then read a daily devotion before heading out by 8 am to work.
I hated the morning hours. I don't know why. They always seemed to drag on unless we were moving cows.
We would always listen to the news radio station too, which didn't bother me since I've always been interested in politics.
Lunch would be between noon and one and was Midwestern to the bone.
Hamburgers from the beef they had raised, green beans, maybe sandwiches, iced tea, chicken made with cream of mushroom soup.
It was still delicious and I was starving.Still I would take meager portions, still five more hours left of labor.
Back to work.
When I was working alone, fencing in the 90 something degree heat, I would listen to country music and alternative rock.
I think I was trying to be someone I wasn't since everyone at my small school was rodeoing or grew up on a farm or ranch. We were all country kids, for the most part. Only a handful of us didn't quite fit the lifestyle long term.
Anyway, I tried, and I love my roots.
Time was a transient blur and yet eternal.
The burst of May's spring came and transformed into the softness of June.
Even to this day June is my favorite month.
|My dad's in the summer|
It was a quiet summer for companionship, but a friend of mine, K, lived just down the road from M's house. I would make my way over after a long day of work to find company.
Earlier that afternoon I was looking at the pasture lands interrupted by corn fields and with my tanned arm hanging out the truck window I saw a crew putting up a pivot in the field by the house.
K told me my old boyfriend Z, who I was missing, was working for the crew. I thought I had seen him driving on those dusty roads. Hope.
Those feelings of angst dotting everyone's teen years.
We started taking the horses out for night rides after we were both done for the day and supper was eaten.
M's horse I got to use for the summer was tall, maybe 18 or 19 hands to his withers. Definitely a climb up. Beautiful dark brown with white and tan small spots and fading. His name was Shack and I grew to love him.
Up and down we would ride, through the hills, down the dirt roads racing.
Leaning forward in the saddle, giving him his head, both reaching for the imaginary finish line, one body, horse and human. Sometimes I wouldn't be in as good of a position in the saddle and so I would grip harder with my thighs and grab a fistful of his dark mane.
Nothing makes me feel more alive than when I'm on the back of a horse. It's been a couple years since I've ridden and I crave it, crave the pure and wild abandoned freedom.
One hot evening we rode across the way into someone's field, looked around to make sure no one was watching, tied the horses to a tree, and played in the pivot, getting soaked from head to toe.
My eyes scrunched up and lighted, mouth in a huge smile as we danced between the stalks of corn.
Giggling like idiots, we ran back to the horses, jumped on, and raced off, my bony butt slipping and sliding and grabbing the saddle horn to steady myself as I dripped water all over the leather.
Dying evening sun drying us off. Talking about love. Talking about life. Talking about nothing and something.
Unsaddling them, finally relieving them of their duties to go roll in the dirt then bolt off into the pasture to rest.
One night I came back to her house and I'm not sure how, but I had managed to talk to Z again a few times. Maybe he contacted me. Maybe not. I don't remember.
That night K's parents and siblings were gone and he came to the house with things for us all to drink.
Now that I remember, he drank a lot of beer as it was. His mom's death years before still weighed heavily on him.
Watermelon and Apple Smirnoff wine coolers. The drink of my teen years.
We began to become slightly tipsy and K went off to the kitchen.
I asked if he missed me at all.
He said that he did, he'd seen me around, knew I was trying to just get a look.
Blushing, I couldn't deny it.
Tired green eyes peering into bloodshot blue eyes.
We both wanted the same thing.
"I'll take her home," he told my friend as she walked back into the room.
This time I sat on the passenger side. Moon high in the sky waxing soft silver.
Pulled over on the rode between her house and M's.
Soon I was in the center seat and we were kissing, picking up intensity.
Windows were down, laying me back, hip bones poking him.
All that was left between us used for the fire under those stars.
I was home late, but not past midnight, silently creeping into the house.
It was all I needed, that long string of kiss after kiss. Just a taste. Just the feel of his chest under my fingers. Just a resolution to the story in my heart.
After that night, things faded out again and I didn't see him until August.
He told my friend at the rodeo that he wasn't interested in a bag of bones.
July came and it was hay season. My tractor was a cab with only one window, sometimes the second, that would open and no AC.
Any other person may have sweated death, which I did a lot of.
I brought my Ipod and mechanically raked while M came behind and baled.
My favorite days, aside from moving cows, were the ones he would leave me to the west field to stack the bales.
I'm amazing at backing up because of those hours backing up to the bales, hoisting them up, them neatly putting them in rows.
Sometimes we would put up alfalfa, which had to be done at 11 pm, when conditions with temperature and dew were just right.
The first time was scary and I didn't feel confident driving such a large piece of machinery into the early morning hours.
It had to be done.
Like most things.
Then up again at about 10 for more work.
I lost even more weight and I remember myself feeling empty then too.
I read a lot of books in that time, in the truck on the way somewhere, at night after my daily sunburn and shower.
Lost in pages of lives.
Lost somewhere between skin and bone.
Lost period of time.
I wonder, and maybe you can tell me if it was the same for some of you, have you lost pages of memories from time periods where your ED was at it's strongest? I'm sure my mind checked out to protect me from their fighting, my abuse, my everything.
All I can remember is that from July on I existed. I read. I worked. I would fall asleep on the living room floor and make my way to bed, exhausted.
Headaches all the time (dehydration, I imagine) and so I took a lot of ibuprofen. The sun has kind of always given me them. Light headed. Lost.
My mom was taking me to the doctor sometimes and I never registered why. At one point she told me it was for a physical to make sure my body wasn't being damaged.
Too much protein in my urine.
Going to internal medicine because something was wrong with my kidneys.
I was the youngest person there.
Counseling maybe now and then, but not often.
I wasn't ready to talk about the things that had happened.
Weighing myself secretly in my grandma's basement on the old scale where you had to move the measures on top.
I don't even think I received a formal file diagnosis. I've never seen my file, of course.
My period never stopped, although I was very thin.
1/4 of a pound from hospitalization, my mom told me.
111 was the lowest weight I remember measuring myself at, although that was with clothes, no shoes, and grandma's old scale. I'm 5'8ish.
And just like that, summer evaporated, leaving me now with residual emotions and images and no full story to place them, merely pieces.
I guess I post these to show where I came from, how different things are, how much life can change between 15 and 22.
Here's me at that game. I keep this picture to remind myself of things. I'm not sure what. Maybe the dark place I came out of?
It almost scares me now.
My eyes look so dead. My face looks so pale. When I get too thin my crooked smile looks strange instead of endearing.
Here's me now. When I put them side by side I'm just amazed at how alive I look, even if I'm relapsed.
The top is you at your ultimate goal weight. The bottom is you at a healthy weight, even if your mind isn't.
It may be my face, but I am you.
I'm one of the faces of anorexia.
I hate that word. It's ugly. I hate people calling it Ana.It's not a person. It's you. You alone inside of you in a dark and dry room with maybe only a crack of light coming from a door. There is no Ana. There's only emptiness.
I will never say I have it, not by that name and not by the clinical name. It burns.
I long to ask my mom about that time but it emotionally aches. Her sadness burns.
By the time I return to college my goal is to have asked her about that period of time, fill in the gaps.
I recovered. One day I stayed at my grandma's house and was in the bathroom late at night. I can only give credit to God because in one split second of a moment he rescued me. My eyes worked. I saw myself as nothing. There was nothing left of me. I felt so much sorrow and so sickened. Little by little I began to eat. My first love helped me put on more healthy weight from 16 to 17. I was never fully recovered in my mind. Maybe for a few months at most, mentally, but that is my story.
Maybe I told you all that because now I feel empty again. I feel lost again. Struggling with love again. Struggling somewhere and everywhere again.
Wanting 122 and feeling such anguish that I weighed 132.6 this morning. Wanting to stop eating. Feeling like an adolescent still in a growing up world.
It was sort of long, which I apologize for, but sometimes your heart leaks when your mind did too much thinking.
My question for you all is when was your eating disorder at its height and how did you feel? What memories did you have? Were there gaps like mine? Did you manage to climb out and how?