Those Jeans

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.

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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 weightSoon none of my clothes will fit meEverybody 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 everythingI 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.

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