I Haven’t Shaved in 6 Weeks Day 7: 11 Truths About That ‘One Time In Rehab’

I’d love to say the following truth won’t embarrass this person- but the fact of the matter is that I think it could-

Stoic, Unemotional, Easygoing, Passive- All words to describe my little tart of a brother before I get this post rolling.

But I’m writing this today- because it’s a crucial thing to cover. Family. I could write 10,000 posts on my relationships with them- could write a novel over how supportive- and genuine their love was throughout this time: But I think it’s stories like the following- that actually encompass what it means to remind yourself of what’s important. So that when shiz gets tough- and it will- that you remember the pretty little moments that are encircling it-

So with that:

Truth No. 7: “If Someone Were To Harm My Family, I’d Eat Them:

Might Go to Jail for 500 Years, But I’d Eat Them

-Johnny Depp (Touche, Depp, Touche)

Don’t Kill Me, Michael- Love, Cruella
Halloween 1997


7.) “If Someone Were To Harm My Family, I’d Eat Them:

Might Go to Jail for 500 Years, But I’d Eat Them

-Johnny Depp

It’s December 28, 2013- 3 weeks into rehab- and you’re sitting on your knees in front of the mirror trying to push through an old earring when your roommate opens the door.

Damn, you mutter- feeling the back of your ear start to bleed.

You never understand how after 15 years- your.ears.still.bleed.

Hey, she says- tossing her binder on the bed. You missed group?

You push it again- one final time- rubbing the lobe with your fingers.

My grandparents are coming, you say- looking back at her through the mirror.

Now? she says- climbing into her bed for her nap.

You nod, standing up- checking yourself in the mirror- smoothing down your black pencil skirt over your thighs.

You’ll wonder if they’ll notice- your grandparents.

Wonder if they’ll exchange looks when you can’t see- and when they go to leave-

Get back in the car and talk quietly about how unfortunate it is that you ”let yourself go.”

You’ll understand if they do, you think- feeling your waist take up the material of your skirt.

Feeling your backside rub up against it.

Imagining your stomach expand.

This used to be big-

You used to take breaks during work-

Slip into the hallway bathroom- when no one was in there

Untuck your shirt from your skirt- lift it above your ribs in the mirror-

To make sure they were still there.

That your meal hadn’t taken them away from you- your beautiful bones.

You are proud of this, you think those days- when you’d eaten one less almond than before.

You turn in the mirror- the bathroom mirror in front of the stalls- feel the skirt slide down your waist- to your hips.

Stare at your back end- drop your shirt and reach out and up your back to feel your shoulder blades unveil- like goosebumps on your skin.

How you enjoyed cupping them- holding those blades in your palms. Your chest out- standing with your feet shoulder length apart.

You were beautiful then- And you felt it.

You were hungry then- But you’d grown used to it.

You were hurting then- Thinking to yourself ”This is how it will always be.”

And you’re remembering that now- staring into your rehab bedroom mirror-

When you hear a giggle behind you.

Your outfit, she says- pulling the comforter to her chest.

You’re caught- you know it.

Dude, It’s my grandparents- I can’t be lopping around them in a beanie and denim.

Why not?

You shake your head. I just can’t-

She rolls her eyes. I’d love to see your closet. I bet you have everything separated into categories, don’t you?- Just like oh here’s clothes for my grandparents- here’s my work clothes- here’s my wannabe hipster clothes- here’s my preppy Texas clothes.

You can’t help but snort- balancing with your hand on the bed and zipping up the back of your brown leather boot.

I didn’t even know you had those, she says. And what the hell is with your hair?

What- you say, turning back in the mirror- You don’t like it?

It’s more ridiculous than when your parents came.

It’s a bun- you exclaim. It’s a work bun.

You look like my grandmother.

Exactly, you say- pointing a finger at her.

Have fun Pollyanna- she says as you shut the door to your room.


You walk down to the community room now- 10 minutes before they arrive.

You pass the nurses station on the way- feel Nurse Sheila eye you from her stoop.

Hello, Ms. Hall- she says.

You think she looks like your mother- You’re missing your mother.

Been missing them since you watched security escort the families off when visiting hours were over at Christmas.

You wave to her and walk past- choosing not to stop until a voice bellows from behind you.

Good God- You hear.

No, you say immediately No. No. No.-Whipping around as Lilly kicks open the door of the hallway phone booth.

Her hair- you notice immediately- looking like a birds nest from being leaned against the inside wall- she’s holding the cord of a phone in her hand- her eyes dancing around you.

Brilliant. She smirks. Who’s coming today- Mom? Aunt? Great-Grandmother? Godparent?


Can I meet them?


Please, she says- and talks into the phone. Tell Lindsey she has to introduce me to her grandparents.

You’d scare them, you say. Who is that?

One guess.

You roll your eyes. Tell her I said what’s up.

Lindsey says what’s up, she says into the receiver. Yeah, I’ll tell her. She looks like fucking Cindy Whoo-Hoo.

Cindy Lou-Who, you idiot. We just watched that.

She smiles. Grace says Hi.

Tell her I hope she’s doing well- And it’s not the same without her.

I will.

You walk into the community room- leaving Lilly to talk to her new girlfriend.

A very Orange-Is-The-New-Black situation if ever there was one.


You notice Jacy and Olivia sitting on the couch as the door closes.

Yo, you say, walking over.

Don’t you look mighty Southern, Olivia says, grinning. Are your parents coming back?

Grandparents, you say. My parents left already.

I think you look pretty Linds.

You do look pretty, Olivia agrees. It’s just funny.

I know, you say- falling into the couch. But alas, we all make sacrifices.

Yeah, Oliva says- shuffling a deck of cards. But your family adores you.  I dunno why you don’t just wear whatever you want.

You shrug- I don’t know. It’s complicated.

But the truth is- you just don’t know.

You only know how to be one way or the other.

This person or that.

You didn’t want your grandparents coming-

It’s hard enough with your own family.

Scared that when they sit there across from you-

All your brother can think about is how different he wants his life- from yours.


And now it’s 4:05 and you’re pacing around the room feeling like a loon.

Sit down, Jacy says.

It’s gonna be so awkward, you say- for the 15th time.

It’s fine.

You groan- waltzing around the room some more.

Linds- A counselor says- peeking her head through the door. You got visitors.

Good luck, the room shouts unanimously- wishing you would get the hell out and stop mulling on about your grandparents.


And now here you are in the hallway-

With the bland walls- and the cubbies that keep each patients mail.

You’re walking down it now- seeing the security guard at the end-

Imagining your grandparents discomfort- their quiet way of looking past you- to the wall with the painting-

The first one you noticed when you arrived. “4916 days is Enough.”

“This is rehab,” they’ll think- as a girl with a feeding tube walks past- pushing her IV.

You just want your family, you think.

Nervous- stomach jumping

Smoothing your hair back- Trying to catch your reflection in the mirror.

You’re looking ahead- nearing the end of the hall- spotting a boy leaned over, signing the visitor sheet.

Someone’s brother- you think- noticing his cap.

His cotton loose pullover.

A pain in your heart you have-

When you see his Nike tennis shoes, and the brown hair poking out from his cap- around his ears.

Michael? you wonder- Afraid to say it- because you don’t think it’s true.

And if it isn’t- it hurts.

So you don’t-

You just follow him with your eyes when he turns.

Trailing him- noticing his jeans- a tear in the back pocket.

Don’t do this, you think. But it’s too late- and you know it-

Can’t we ever just will something into being?

You know it’s silly- but What if?

What if? You think- And you turn the corner-

To a boy smiling at you, standing above-

Who you sat on when you were 12- wrestling the remote from his hands

A boy you collected Beanie Babies with- telling him which ones to buy

A boy you made drive the toy car- and you stood on the back, his little legs pushing-

Go faster, you’d say- jumping. Pedal harder- And he would.

He’s smiling at you now-This boy.

A man- really- who looks like a boy, because he has always been yours.

“Surprise,” they say- reaching for you.

And you’re laughing in the lobby-

The staff laughing in the lobby

Your brother and dad laughing-

laughing because sometimes things happen the way you want them to

And it’s a feeling that can’t be explained-

Because it’s always gone too fast.


Can’t believe y’all, you say later- when the moment has passed- and you’re walking out to the healing garden. (The name really is that cheesy)

We got you- didn’t we? Your dad says, smugly. Holding your red binder in his hands.

-He always holds your things for you-

Like he did when you were little- and you held out your gum in the car “Here somebody,” you’d say “I’m done.”

And he’d take it- mock rolling his eyes at you- but he always took it.

Were they ever coming? You wonder

They wanted to, he says. But we figured it’d be kinda hard on you so I told them you needed your space.

The Florida sun’s hitting the tops of your heads.

Thank you, you say. It’s chilly today, isn’t it? Michael beside you with his phone in his hand.

Yeah, he agrees- opening the weather app from his home screen.

What I wouldn’t give for a phone- you muse.

I bet you’re dying, he grins.

My phone bill’s not.

You nudge your dad with your elbow. So how’d yall end up staying?

Michael grins, It was random-

It was, your dad says- entering the garden behind you. We were on our way to the airport and I just kinda had this moment where I was like HEY, why not? It’s Christmas break- no one’s working- Michael’s outta school. Let’s just stay.

You smile- looking at Michael. You didn’t have party plans?

I do, he says- Just not till New Years.

Ah yes- I see.- But secretly, you know he could’ve.

And you? He smirks. Gonna toast it with some apple juice?

You grin- slap him over the head as the three of you sit down on some chairs in the garden.

Your dad rocking in the patio chair- Your brother eyeing you over.

Feeling calm- Feeling oddly at ease.


And you have this memory of when you were little- You don’t know why but you do.

Of Michael when he would get in trouble-

“No, Michael,” your mom would scold.

And he’d freeze in the kitchen-

Standing stone-like with his eyes facing forward.

You’d giggle then- doing your homework at the table.

Your multiplication tables spread out before you.

Egging him on.

“Michael,” your mom would warn.

But, he’s checked out and you know it.

He’s gonna do it, you’d say- gearing up.

Dropping your pencil on the table.

Michael, she says again- turning the faucet off with her elbow.

But it’s too late.


Face-first, down he goes onto the wood flooring-

You sitting at the table howling.

He doesn’t even try to stop himself, you squeal.

For the love of God, she mumbles, walking over and picking him up off the floor from his armpits.

Stupid, you’re laughing, shaking your head. He’s so stupid.

Stop, she looks up at you- dusting him off- checking his head.

Are you okay? She says- his hand rubbing his forehead. Michael, did you hurt yourself?

He nods.

Okay, she says. What did we say about falling on the floor? It hurts you.

You’re still laughing.

He knows, you say- picking up your pencil before it rolls off the table. He’s just dumb.

Do your homework, she says, picking him up.

He sticks his tongue out at you from behind her head as she walks with him.

Dummy, you mouth.


And right now- sitting in the corny healing garden-

With your corny hair- And your uncomfortable skirt

You’re staring at him in the chair beside you-

his Wranglers running past his ankles-

grazing his Nikes.

I like the beard, you say- noticing the speckling of hair on his chin.

He snorts, feeling it with his index and thumb. Been growing it out.

I dig it, dude. It’s like you just hit puberty.

He grins.

That’s what I said, your dad agrees.

How’s Sanibel? You ask. I bet Mom was jealous- She have to work or something?

Yeah, Michael says. But it was good. Fished some- ordered out from Matzalunas, he pauses. Twice.

Dad have a coupon?

Of course.

Hey, he interjects. It was about to expire.

Michael catches your eye- Dad and his coupons.

Well, Thank God they don’t have coupons here.

Dad makes a face. Judging by Christmas lunch, I don’t think I’d use them here.

Awful, isn’t it?

Michael shakes his head. I mean you’d think for anorexia rehab, they’d feed you better shit.

Your dad can’t help but agree.

Don’t wanna hear it, you moan. I have to eat 100% of every one of those God awful meals.

Is it always that bland?


Come now, your dad says. There’s no way.

It’s true, you argue. We have the same variation of the menu every week. It’s like we’re in the Penn.

The Penn? Michael says- flatly. As in prison?


Right, he says. Well that might be a little dramatic.

You don’t even know, you say- knowing he’s right. We have to be in bed at like 10.

No shit?

And if I know you, your dad says. I’m sure you’re following that- and every other- rule splendidly.

Pretty well, you say- ignoring his sarcasm. I mean there’s not a whole lotta stuff to do around here.

Like prison? Michael jokes.


I bet you miss running, he says.

I do, you admit. Miss the power of it more than anything.

Yeah, your dad says- scanning you with his eyes as though you’re going to combust in front of him. How are you doing with that?

I hate it sometimes, you admit. I feel disgusting.

You find it hard to look at Michael when you say this.

Hard- and you don’t know why.

When for years, you’d waltzed into the game room while he was playing video games-

a towel loosely tucked around you- your hair sopping wet.

Am I fat? You’d ask, twirling around.

Jesus, he’d say- trying to look around you to his game.

I’m serious. I think I’ve gotten fatter since the last time you saw me.

You’re not- he’d say, barely looking at you.

Will you tell me when you start noticing?

He’d shake his head then- halfway listening. You’re not fat. You look the same.


You gaze at him now- wonder if he thinks about that-

That while you were pretending to be vain-

What you were really doing was begging for something to make you feel better-

Even if it was just your 14-year old brother in the game room.

You’re looking at him now- and you’re watching the hair on his arms move with the breeze.

The way he sits in the chair beside you.

His legs outstretched- Arms defined.

You know he didn’t have to be here today- 

You know he could’ve gone.

He’s 20, and he wants to be 20- Because you reflect on what you were doing at 20-

And know it would not have been hanging out at your sister’s rehab during Christmas break.

You really do just love him, you think- as you have loved him always.

But sometimes forget.

Forget because you haven’t been there.

You missed it-

Missed reminding yourself to remember what it feels like-

To have something this close to you

Whatever this is between the two of you-

Cemented love, you think- how you forget sometimes- that this is the desired kind.

And so you talk to your brother today-

And you look at him closer.


And you thank him later- walking up to the path from the garden- the hour coming to a head.

You’re standing on the path now, leading from the building to the parking lot- the security guard nearby-

It hurts you think- and it hurts you more for them every time you feel as though they are ripped away from you-

Your mother holding your face on Christmas and not being able to take you with her.

How painful that must be, you wondered that night.

To know your child’s hurting- has been hurting-

And to have to leave them anyway- standing in the middle of a gravel path-

Name tag hanging from around your neck.

How conflicting it must feel-


And here you are- doing it again, you think- pulling your brother close.

Feeling his arms around your waist.

Thank you, you whisper again- and you wish you could say more.

Of course, he says- Bet it’s lonely in there.

Sometimes, you admit. But it’s safe.

And you hope he understands what you mean- but aren’t sure.

You hand your binder to him to say goodbye to your dad- Hold this- you say.

And you turn to your dad- thanking him for staying. Thanking him for being there regardless what you’ve done-

Standing there holding your dad- feeling him coddle you like you know he did that time you were 9 months old and fell off the bed.

They joke about it at Christmas sometimes- your family- about how your dad used to freak out when he held you. Assume the worst when you bumped your head or burped too much spittle.

You’re thinking that right now- feeling his hug- how nice that is to feel.

A hug.

You’re not thinking about what he’s thinking of your weight as he feels your skin on his-

You’re not wondering if he’s embarrassed by where you are.

Right now- he’s just your dad.

And your brother’s just your brother.

And family stayed for you.

You say goodbye again- Michael passing you back the binder.

You watch their backs turn to you- Your funny little family.

With their funny little polos.

And their funny little khakis.

Your dad’s hand on your brother’s shoulder.

You realize it’s days like today-

That are the piece of recovery you hope to hold onto.

And hold onto for always-

Even in the moments it feels hazy.


Later on- night comes, as it does once you’ve changed from your skirt to your sweatpants- your bun to your beanie- and you sit down for dinner in the cafeteria- surrounded by the women.

Women who keep their children’s photos in their name tag holders- women who hold pictures of their husbands in their hands when they eat- women who look for every other reason to help themselves when they don’t have enough love to do it on their own.

And you’re sitting there that night- your heart feeling sad and feeling full- when you open your red binder for a sheet of paper.

You’ve been slacking on your food journals you think- and hoping that no one will notice-

When you feel a white envelope fall out from the bottom- sweeping down alongside your chair.

Lindsey- you read- when you’ve picked it up, And somehow, you know who it’s from:


Dear Lindsey,

 I know I’m not known as the most expressive person in this family, so I imagine this letter is going to come as a bit of a surprise. However, in an effort to please you, I thought I’d take a step away from my unemotional exterior and delve into my multi-faceted, truly emotional interior…

Ok, I’ll try and lay off the sarcasm from this moment forward.

 First off, in writing this, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me over the years. I look back and don’t know how I would have grown up without you helping me along the way and more importantly, being the older child who was the test subject for mom and dad’s punishments. (I think after your thousandth grounding from AIM they realized that they didn’t have to be as harsh on me. So…. Thanks sis!) I never got grounded because of you!

But in all seriousness, I know that I can count on you for anything. Whether it be my “interesting” social life or just how to tell Mom and Dad that I’ve fucked up, I know you’re going to give me the right advice. (Well, at least, some advice) For that, I want to re-thank you. I know many of my friends aren’t as close to their brothers and sisters as we are, and I can’t tell you how much it means that we stay this way.

As I sit here writing this, our family is finishing up with the yearly venture to Kansas City. It’s hard to explain but this trip was different without you. You’re the one in our family who always knows how to make everyone laugh and how to entertain us with one of your stories. I know that your humorous stories may seem kind of petty, but I think everyone would agree with me when I say that it tends to be the highlight of our dinners.

Of course, this year your name came up a lot. As you would expect, our family is worried about how you are doing. However nerve-racking and uncomfortable that makes you, you gotta admit that it’s kind of awesome that our family loves and cares this much about you.

Furthermore, I think everyone in the family would agree with me in saying that your situation definitely came as a surprise. You are one of, if not the most vivacious and outgoing person I have ever met.

Hearing that you’re struggling internally, and have been for some time, seems almost impossible to me and to everyone else. Of course we all face inner demons at some point in our lives, however I think it came as a surprise that these demons could afflict someone like you.

 I know no matter how many times I tell you that you’re beautiful, or that you are, IN FACT, skinny that it’s not going to matter. But believe me when I tell you that I’ve never met a single person who didn’t think you were (much to the demise of many of your exes).

Lastly Lindsey, I just want to tell you how privileged I am to be your brother. I know that you have deemed me as the “golden child” in this family, but the truth is I’ve always felt you were the stronger sibling, and now I believe that even more.

Obviously, you hid your eating disorder from us for a long time, but when confronted, you admitted that you needed help and were willing to do whatever it took to get better. I know many would say that was the rational and easy choice, but I see it differently.

You didn’t hide and run from your problems. Instead, you faced them straight on. That’s one of the bravest moves you can make and I know there is no way I could have handled the situation as gracefully as you did. Well, really, I don’t even know if I could have even had the strength to admit I had a problem in the first place. You’re impressive, and I really mean that.

I know that I can be distant and often appear unemotional, but hearing that you’re going through all this makes me sick.  I know it sounds cliché for me to say this, but if I could trade places with you I would. I hate you having to deal with this shit and having to overcome anything. However, it does comfort me to know that you are not only going to overcome it, but become an even stronger person than you already are.

Please, all I want you to know, whether it’s now, tomorrow, 5 years, or 50 years from now, is that I am always going to be there for you if you need someone. Lindsey I can’t wait to see you when you’re recovered and are happier than you’ve ever been.

Love you always,



You finish reading-

Make a promise-

And when the cafeteria begins to clear

And your friends pack up to head to After-Meal

You comin? Lil asks.

And you nod.

 Tucking that letter-

In the crevice of your binder.

In the bottom of your junky purse-

On your desk at the computer you’re writing this off of.

You promise yourself that night-

That when the next time your family comes-

You’ll waltz down to meet them-

A beanie on your head

A sweatshirt tied around your waist-

The letter in your pocket_

So you have the reminder of what it is that matters.

You love your family- you think-

As you think now, finishing this-

You know they love you-

And sometimes, it takes scraping the bottom of the barrel to remember how-

This is Rehab: Truth 7

“I Haven’t Shaved in 6 Weeks Day 2”: 11 Truths About ‘That One Time In Rehab’

First and foremost- I want to thank everyone for the tremendous amount of beautiful feedback I’ve received in regards to my first post on this subject.

To be honest, I was so terrified posting it last night that I impulsively deleted it twice and had to have a massive pep talk in the M-train subway alley with my family and friends before releasing it back into the world’s hands.

I know this subject’s not easy to read- not easy to talk about- and maybe not always easy to digest.

But the feedback I have coming in is real- and if it’s helping someone to sit back for one moment and have that sort of mini-revelation I had sitting in a diverse group of women every day for week after week- all from different lives sharing the same issues- then I’ve done what I set out to do.

Tonight I present the 2nd of my 11 Truths entitled “No One Cares That You Puke

2006 Tennis Tourney- The Beautiful Days of Eating Without Whim


2.) No One Cares That You Puke

“That weird nurse caught Dawn doing crunches this morning.”

Kenzie looks tired across the cafeteria table, mixing around her 27g sugar-yogurt, and sighing into her coffee.

“Again?” you say, scraping the staff-measured 1tbsp of butter from the container.

“She always does,” she moans. “I’m dead asleep and I wake up to her fucking sitting on the ground doing pushups,” she pauses to take a bite.” I’m just like bitch, go to sleep.”

 Jacy grins, lifts her pin up to write her name on top of her food journal. “Yeah well last night my Roommate stared at the wall for 10 minutes before getting into bed.”

“She’s weird, dude.” Oliva says, shaking her head. A piece of pink curly hair falls in her face. “That girl’s crazy.”

“I think she’s on withdrawal meds.”

Jacy nods. “When she went to shower last night she stood in front of the mirror before and I swear she didn’t blink.”

“Creepy,” you say, cutting your banana into the 6 allotted pieces. “So creepy.”

“Yeah,” Olivia agrees. “But at least crazy bitch is gone.”

“She left?” You ask, feigning surprise.

“Yeah, she signed a 72 and was outta here this morning.”

You shake your head, attempting coyly to break the banana up into smaller pieces to stir into your oatmeal.

(Who the hell cuts bananas into only 6 pieces, seriously?)

From the corner of your eye, you see Lilly slink into the cafeteria, pushing her hair out of her face like she just stumbled from her bed (she did, and everyone knows it but says nothing– not even the counselors). Dirty skirt– the one she wears almost every day– hanging from her slender waist, and a XL Wu Tang Clan sweatshirt shifting off one of her shoulders.

“Sup assholes,” she mumbles, plopping down to her marked tray placed across from you. “Thanks for waking me up.”

“I tried,” you say, holding your nose while you take a sip of the 2% milk. “You grunted and said you’d be down in a minute.”

She sighs down at her food– starts to unwrap her bagel (It’s extra starch day on Fridays) “I missed meds,” she says.

“Just do them after.”

We have this conversation every day–you begin to notice- pushing a stealthy piece of banana into the goopy oatmeal so Counselor Jan won’t see when she walks by.

Lilly mutters something about losing her schedule, knowing she’ll find it behind the couch when we convene back in the community room for another day of group therapy.

“Dawn’s doing crunches again,” Kenzie tells her.

Lilly shrugs. “No shit. She’s been here as long as I have and she doesn’t look any different.”

“Crazy bitch left,” Olivia chimes in.

“Really?” She grins. “Good, now I don’t have to hear her puke in the bathroom after dinner.

“How did she ever get off escorts?” You wonder aloud.

“She didn’t,” Lilly says with a mouthful of bagel. “She just snuck in there between.”

“How do you throw up that quickly?” Kenzie asks. “It’s like 5 minutes before group.”

“I don’t know,” you say. “But did you see her cheeks? Homegirl’s been doing that for years.”

 “Hope I’m not 30 and still puking.”

“Watch it,” you warn. “I’m going on 25.”

“Yeah,” she says. “I always forget you’re that old. You look like you’re 12.”

“A 12-year old in a beanie,” Jacy pipes up.

“And that eats herself,” Olivia grins, pointing down to the new band aid the nurses force around your finger every morning at weigh-in.

You smile now, surprised at how quickly your idiosyncrasies follow you– surprised at how casual a conversation can be over bulimia.

You look back at Lilly, catch her eye in that odd way you two share.

“You alright?” You mouth to her.

And she shrugs. “Fuck bagel day,” she mumbles.

You smile because you don’t know how you ended up knowing this person across from you.

But she’s funny, and she’s aloof– and it’s fitting to you that she resembles a cat with her subtle Asian-set eyes.

It’s fitting because you know she’s lying– and know she lies daily.

Lies about how “hard” she is, lies about how independent she is– and lies about her own little trips to the bathroom in between groups.

Yes, you know this, you think– staring at her makeup-less complexion– you know this and you love her anyway.

Because let’s face it– In rehab, you’re not special because you throw up. In fact, you’re boring. You’re actually incredibly boring, and by the time you step foot in that facility a solid half of your family and friends (the ones you’ve been halfway honest with, at least) are so tired of feeling guilty and never saying “the right thing” that they’re ushering you in there like a mouse to the cheese trap– happy to be free of the anxiety if only for a moment.

So, lemme repeat– you’re not special because you puke.

I mean, you’re special- at least they’ll tell you that. It’s like when your 2nd Grade Music teacher sat you in a circle with all the other flute-playing  kids picking their noses and went around in that falsetto voice claiming how talented each of you are.

You are special. But, you’re not special because you’re sick– and that’s a harsh reality to accept.

You stumble into Rehab with this preconceived idea that you:

1.) either have a screw looser than any of “the others”– OR

2.) think you have no screws loose and that your parents are just big assholes for sending you off to get fat with a bunch of loons.

Whichever way, what I’m trying to say is that they’ve seen it. Every staff member, every housekeeper, every security guard, and every patient who has spent longer than one month in that place has met you before you’ve ever met them. They see you on your first day trudging through the door, pants baggy in the butt, your t-shirt hanging off you like it’s a fashion statement.

We size you up quick (literally)–

We know people enter rehab under two notions. Either the notion that what goes on in your head is somehow more complex/deep/incurable/tragic than anyone else– Or under the disillusion of beautiful denial. (Me– thin?!?!?! You don’t say…)

However, the fact of the matter is that after sitting in there week after week- you slowly begin to realize how tired you are of your own bullshit.

Sounds easy then, right? Change your life, mate. Change your thoughts- But what “the Muggles” (we watched a lot of Harry Potter– YAY for PG cinema) can’t comprehend is that we’ve painstakingly rewired our brains to only focus on perfection- on flawlessness. On an unattainable idea that our goal in life is to be so severe that everyone around us will look when we enter a dinner party and cower at how in control of our lives we are. (Who cares if we have to excuse ourselves later to puke up that appetizer. WE. ARE. IN. CONTROL. BITCHES.)

Is this how it starts, you ask? With this gallant disillusionment of control? Of course not. People stick their fingers down their throats for plenty of reasons. People stop eating for different tragedies, and people enter into an addiction with the mindset that you’ll do it sporadically and life will function onward as it always has.

I puked for the first time when I was 16 years old in the bathroom of my high school during Chemistry Class.  (Side note: isn’t it fun how we forget our parents birthdays but puking, shoving our fingers down our throat, we can remember like it was yesterday)

I was thin. Always had been- never worried about it. I was the scrawny one. The girl that stood last in the row of tallest-to-shortest. The “cute” but not hot one:

I was the 8th grader that stood in line at Subway with their mother as the Sub employee leaned over the glass and asked if 4th grade was “treating me well?” (Yeah bitch, 4 years ago Mrs. Hellstern was a RIOT.)

I shopped at Kids Gap into my teens. Found a Homecoming dress at Dillard’s Junior Department my freshman year of high school and lied and told everyone I got it in Neimans… Actually that’s a whiff of a lie. I probably just told people that because it sounded more expensive.

Anyway, I wasn’t your CNN bullied obese kid. I was the opposite- a delicate, fragile little girl with big ears, buck teeth, and a significantly small appetite.

My family knew it– my extended family knew it– It became the Christmas pun every year on my dad’s side: “Oh, what’s Lindsey going to eat? Oatmeal? Waffles? Cereal?” (My penchant for binging cereal started early. Damn Fruity Pebbles.)

It became my identity. To be the picky one- the small one- the little girl. I mean hell, if I wasn’t going to be the prettiest (and I wasn’t), I damn sure was going to be the smallest. The finger-chewer, the neurotic, the people-pleaser.

And I was. I was the one that never had to worry about bra sizes, and periods. I was the chameleon who could strike up a conversation with the girl in the corner who did cocaine off her desk. I was perpetually childlike in my actions and it carried over into my diet. I could eat whatever I wanted– I could be whoever I wanted–

and so I did.

High school started– I snagged my first boyfriend (despite the ears). He liked my “elf” feet, he cooed. My slim waist, my little, bony body. He liked it and therefore, I liked it. Happy that while everyone else was starting to fill out and complain about “junk in the trunk,” I got to stay in my perpetual Neverland.

–So with that in mind, you can imagine the disdain when you go to the doctor your Sophomore year, and are told you weigh- for the first time- a whopping triple digits.

“Over 100,” you think. “But I have friends who barely weigh this or that.”

It is then you take notice of the subtle changes in your appetite. The dinner choices you’ve been making when eating out with your boyfriend. The Qdoba burritos you’re now finishing at lunch with friends.

You don’t hate that you’re eating more, but you’re not pleased either.

A few months goes by– You start venturing into Hollister, Abercrombie, Polo Outlets. You start swapping shirts with your friends where they were only a tiny bit too big for you in the chest.

Junior year starts and Doctors put you on birth control.

“Birth Control,” you whine in the car. “I’m not even having sex.”

“But you need to start your period,” Mom says.

So you take it– painstakingly aware of the weight gain your girl friends complain about.

And I suppose that’s where it all begins– the beautiful downward spiral into retching. (Does anyone else have the same toilet bowl spiraling image?)

You take the pills- they make you sick. Sick every morning, sick all morning, sick to where you can hardly get out of bed. You lose weight. Dip back into the 90s–everyone notices. Which, as any disordered patient will say, is both the blessing and the curse of this illness. The attention.

You like being notably small again– You like being “that person.” However, you do not like being sick all the time from these stupid estrogen-enhancing pills. YOU are a perfectionist, damnit, and this is keeping you away from your 116-grade A in English.

So, you do it. You make the plunge. You get up in Ms. B’s class one morning–sick as hell– barely able to lop yourself out the door and to the bathroom– and you lean over the toilet and shove a finger down your throat.

It’s awkward at first- the movement of a finger in your mouth. What the hell do you do, you wonder. Do you go straight for the plunge? Do you wiggle it around back there on that hangy part of your throat (to this day, I still have NO idea what that’s called.)

You don’t know. It’s awkward.

And then suddenly you’re hunched over a disgusting high school toilet rim with a slobbery finger in your mouth dry-heaving some phlegm. PHLEGM? You think. But you’re so nauseous you don’t even care. Just as long as the feeling subsides.

So you can finish that damn problem on the board.

So you can be this person– with your good grades, and your big smile, and your friendly demeanor– so you can be everything and anyone.

So you can try on any dress, and flirt with any person, and be loved by everyone.

So everyone will look back at you fondly and think: “That girl was something special.”

Because you are special, you think, going back to Chemistry in your Hollister jean skirt.

You are bloody perfect.


This is Rehab: Week 2