Yesterday, I was getting ready to take a bag of clothes to the thrift store. As I picked up each article of clothing and tossed it into a garbage bag, I saw those jeans at the bottom of the pile. They are jeans that I bought at my absolute sickest, when I moved back to Indiana last year. I bought them because every pair of pants I owned was too big. I bought them because they were only two dollars and they were the only pair that fit. I bought them even though I didn’t like them because I genuinely didn’t care anymore. And after several weeks in Indiana and several more pounds lost, those jeans hung off of my body just like every other pair I owned.
For reasons that I can’t entirely explain, I decided to try on the jeans before I put them in the garbage bag with the rest of the clothes. Honestly, I was simply curious about whether or not they would fit, since I still fit into almost all of my clothes from the last year. I pulled them on and, let me tell you, those babies were tight. They were so tight that I couldn’t button them. A wave of panic and anxiety flooded me. I remembered trying on pants as a teenager and experiencing the same thing, flooded with shame and feelings of being out of control. Instantly, I started rethinking everything, backtracking through the last year of recovery. I have to diet forever or I will never stop gaining weight. Soon none of my clothes will fit me. Everybody has been noticing how much weight I’ve gained. All of my other clothes are probably too tight, too. I bet I look bad in everything. I knew I was eating too much. I need to start exercising more. I need to start weighing myself every day again.
I couldn’t believe how quickly the disordered thoughts rushed in. They came locked and loaded and I didn’t have much of a defense lined up. It was a straight-up ambush attack. The anxiety trailed along with me through the evening, and shaking it was not easy. To help me refocus and think more clearly, I reminded myself of what life was like when those jeans fit.
When Those Jeans Fit Me:
- I was severely depressed
- I was perpetually moody and irritable
- I was incapable of thinking clearly or engaging with others
- I was frigidly cold all of the time
- My hair fell out in clumps
- I could rarely sleep a full night, and even when I did the quality of sleep was poor
- I was obsessive about every gram and calorie that I consumed
- I calculated every second of my physical activity
- Every activity I participated in centered around postponing meals, planning meals, or exercising
- My body hurt all day, every day
- I ate almost entirely diet and light versions of foods
- My life comprised of nothing that truly mattered to me, nothing that nourished my soul
Sounds pretty glamorous, huh?
Recovery, for me, most certainly meant weight gain. I remember walking into my therapist’s office for the first time at a weight that was absolutely not healthy for my body, claiming that I was really happy with where my weight was. I didn’t need to gain weight, I just didn’t want to lose anymore. The way I saw it, I needed to be as small as I could possibly be while not being in physical danger. I thought that if I could just nip this nasty anorexia thing in the bud and stay at that weight, I would be happy. Looking back, that was an incredibly naive thought, but after putting every ounce of my being into losing 100 pounds, gaining weight was (and is still) a hard pill for me to swallow. But alongside the weight gain that has rendered me unable to fit into those jeans, I have gained countless wonderful things. My hair is strong and healthy, my lips don’t turn blue in moderate weather conditions, I sleep wonderfully most every night, I don’t think about grams of lettuce eaten or calories burned walking across the street. I don’t guzzle diet soda or chew pack upon pack of gum. I can interact with people, and not in the artificial holy shit stop talking I’m starving way that I used to.
Every single thing about my life today is better than it was when those jeans hung off of my hip bones. Everything. While moments of uncertainty and second-guessing still arise at times like this, I have to remind myself that I have nothing to lose. I don’t know where my body will take me from here, but I know definitively that I never want to go back to the life I lived a year ago. So, yes, those jeans don’t fit me anymore, and I pray to God they never do again.