1.) Bitch, Please: There’s How Many Grams of Sugar in that Yogurt?
The day is here – you barely slept.
You rolled around the hotel bed with your laptop by your side – Mad Men Season 5 shifting from episode to episode on Netflix.
You’re wondering what movies will be on it when you get out; what you’ll miss at the Nitehawk in Brooklyn.
You’re texting the person you were dating, sending them the salutations and the farewells. Telling them you’re sorry for being dishonest – hoping they’ll find someone while you’re gone.
You don’t know who you’ll be when you’re done.
You don’t really want to.
Face the nightmare, homegirl. Your life has come to a point where you’re binge eating two boxes of cereal a day.
Where your roommate hides her chips and cereal in her room so you won’t eat it under the sheets in your bed.
You’re tired laying in that hotel bed, but you won’t sleep. You’re texting this person and remembering how you once went on a date with them and threw up in a deli bathroom when they dropped you off at the subway.
You text your parents.
“You okay?” Mom asks.
“Yeah, going to bed.”
“I love you,” she says.
You don’t really want to answer.
You leave your room, wander down the hall past the concierge, and sit on a bench and smoke a cigarette outside the Fairfield Inn.
The Fairfield Inn. An otherwise forgettable hotel if it wasn’t the purgatory to whatever comes next.
You cry because you know you’ll be crying a lot. You smoke knowing it won’t help.
For the next month(s) you’re sure you will cry over the cookies you’ll be forced to eat (Oreos. So many Oreos), the high-calorie granola you’ll be instructed to finish (What, no fat-free?), and the Glazed Doughnuts you would’ve avoided like the plague (Hello, Dunkin) had you previously had the chance.
You slink back to your hotel room, shifting your eyes away from the gaze of the people sitting in the lobby.
You bought some leggings today. Do people dress up in rehab?
Wash your face in the sink. Will you lose weight now that you won’t be free to binge?
Crawl into bed with your oversized t-shirt. Do you make friends in rehab? God, you hope they’re not loony bins.
Drift into uneasy sleep with your cell phone in your hand; the last message on Facebook sent.
And now the morning comes and you’re unsure whether to eat. Should you starve before? One last binge?
You decide on a banana and half a cookie.
This is the first day of your life, you like to think – even if it’s cheesy.
You pick up your things around the room; sit in front of the mirror and apply make up; scowl at your hair.
You don’t have a straightener, a blow dryer, nor a curler. A subtle reminder that you aren’t allowed those things when you’re crazy.
You’re outside smoking a cigarette when the driver pulls up.
“Lindsey?” he asks, smiling.
Why are you smiling, asshole?
“Yeah,” you say, going to stab out the cigarette.
“No, no,” he says, holding his hand up. “Take your time. No rush.”
You nod ‘thanks’ but the cigarette and you have already divorced.
Is this finally your last cigarette? you wonder, trying to make it memorable.
You get in the car while he puts your suitcase in the back.
“Tom,” he says, reaching his hand out.
He talks the entire way , and frankly you find his good humor grating. Doesn’t he know you just want shove headphones in and self-pity?
But you don’t – ’cause damn you Tom – you think as he pulls in through the metal gates. Jumping out, he opens the door and helps you.
“Good luck,” he says – as if you’re going off to war – and a lady with a trim figure meets you at the car.
Reception’s this way, she says.
Of course she has a trim figure, you think, glancing her up and down. You hate her on sight.
Hours pass. Instructions are dealt. Suitcase inspected. Your “Team Red” binder stamped with your name. (What is this- Middle School Field Day?)
So here it is, you sigh finally, sitting on the entry couch. It’s your first day and all the skinny bitches are running around the halls with their feeding tube IVs and their waft figures, and here you are staring at some hand-crafted artwork from a patient 7 years ago that reads “4319 days is ENOUGH” in eerie black and red paint; an XXS t-shirt you assume this satanic painter once adorned hanging beside it.
You are jealous of this person on this first day, and her XXS willpower. You wonder what 4319 ED free days would look like – disgusted. The Facebook photos that would have the social community whispering “Poor thing, she used to be so thin back then.” Oh God, the cellulite. Cut it off. Can you just have that knife to cut it all off.
You want to run thinking about it. Your body telling you to; toes tensing in your shoes; muscles clenching in your black jeans, weakening by the moment. Run, they instruct. Don’t let yourself give up you lazy bitch.
But I ran last night, you explain. I ran for you. I ran and I cried and I laid on the gym ground with my knees to my chest and I said I was sorry for not working hard enough.
If I had just gotten to that fucking weight, you think. I could’ve stopped before it came to this.
If you’d lost those final 5lbs, you would quit binging. You would’ve stopped lying. You could’ve sat between people in the subway. You could’ve taken that rest day once in awhile. And God, you’d let yourself eat that cake mom made at Christmas. You only binged because you looked in the mirror. Cellulite, skin, weight clinging – like a tick to your leg.
These are your thoughts that first day, have been your thoughts for so long.
You’re on the verge of tears; comparing yourself to the women that walk by- the girl with the baggy flannel and cut off shorts, the model with the bony waist and tube hanging from her nose. Oh, there are the pretty ones, and the bigger ones, and the ones you assume came in on drugs. You’re not judging them- you’re judging you: sitting there catching their pale eyes and skeletal frames. When you see the shoulder blades on the woman in the corner- you wonder again whether you actually need to go through the humility of this experience. Should I leave? Should I call my mom? Oh God, what would (insert ex name) think if they knew I ended up here?
You think about the last time you saw that ex – the way they looked at you when you changed your shirt- eyes gazing at your dinner plate- tightened jaw when you laid together in a bed and they rubbed their hand over your rib cage. “I can feel your ribs,” they whispered. And you smiled.
You always won, then- before you moved to NYC and could no longer run as much.
You tried the 5am work outs – midnight runs – but the weight crept back. A pound here, a pound there. You laid in your bed pinching the side of your hips – hoping it would shed like a snake.
So you could go to that birthday dinner-
You think about your friends at home now. You think about your mom leaving the night before. The way her head hung to the side, her eyes bleary.
Someone talks to you from the couch over – a southern girl in boots and ill-fitted jeans. She’s staring at you with a curious look on her face. “Is she a binger, a bulimic, an ano?” Sometimes, it’s obvious. In your case, it isn’t.
You’d done it all, yes, but ”doing it all” doesn’t show when you’re a healthy weight with an ass a little more cushy than a sponge.
“This your first day?” she asks.
You smile like you’re going through 2007 Sorority Rush. “Uh-huh,” you say. “Yep!” You add for good measure.
You hate yourself.
The girl stares at you with her toothy Alabama grin. “It’s not too bad usually,” she says. “But we’re doing rounds right now so everyone’s in a bad mood.”
“For levels,” she says. “On Tuesdays, we find out if we move up a level. I’m on escorts and I wanna move up to level 1, but everyone’s different.”
“Yeah, if you’re on escorts you can’t go to the bathroom without supervision.”
“Someone goes with you?”
“No,” she pauses. “But you have to count real loud while the staff stands outside and listens.”
Before you can press her further on this whole level system, a lady in a light yellow cardigan and long blonde hair walks out from a room “Stacey?” she says, staring at the girl you’re speaking to.
“Well,” she grins. “Wish me luck.”
You smile politely and watch as the girls around her pat her back and make flustered movements.
“Where you from?” Another girl in flannel asks.
You look at her standing in the corner, worn Van sole pressed to the wall, hair in her face, paint all over, well, everything.
“Me too,” she says. But she doesn’t look happy about it.
“Cool,” you say. “Yeah, Fort Worth – Dallas area.”
“Denton,” she says, looking you up and down. “Or, well, actually Plano, then Denton. Then New York. Then here.”
You nod. “I live in New York now too.”
She nods. “Alright,” and turns back to the girl sitting on the ground in front of her. “This is fucking bullshit,” you can hear her say.
“Yeah, but you know if you weren’t such a bitch all the time they’d let you move up.”
She throws up her hands “I’m done with it.”
The girl on the ground looks bored. “No you’re not. Sit down.”
“I’m sick of it,” she says again. But she slides down next to the girl who you assume was a dancer at some time in her life.
“Stop fighting them and you’ll get out.”
“I’m not even thin anymore.”
“Yeah, but you still act on symptoms.”
“Not in the last week.”
This is how the first day goes.
You hang out in your room later, on top the floral Floridian comforter, a connected bathroom with no lock. Your roommate’s things strewn all over.
She seems nice – if not catatonic.
Definitely on meds.
You are too overwhelmed to cry.
Dinner comes, and you file behind the other girls. Some are friendly. Some are blunt. A girl with cuts up her legs and arms smiles with a pageboy haircut and says ”you’re pretty. I like your smile.”
It takes you all night to find out she’s only 14.
You sit in the cafeteria across a girl named ”Wes,” and it takes you all night to realize Wes no longer identifies as a girl.
He helps you through dinner; watches you when the tray is placed in front of you and you look down to see the cup of white rice, broccoli rabe, tofu (you chose the healthiest you could on that awful menu), and yogurt for dessert.
You grimace, but think you’ve beat the system. “Tofu and yogurt,” you cackled to yourself. “I could’ve chosen the chicken and 2% milk like that fool over there, but I went safe.”
It’s then you peer down at the nutrition label on the yogurt and break into tears.
What the fuck is this, you yell.
Crying over grams of sugar in a Dannon’s Vanila Yogurt.
“I can’t eat this shit,” you exclaim.
Wes pats your hand knowingly; tells a joke.
The table is laughing with him and ignoring your tears- used to the sobbing reactions of the new people.
Someone puts her hand on your back.
“You’re alright, you got this.”
You don’t, you think. You really don’t.
“We all had to do it- first night’s the worse. Don’t think about it.”
You stare at the clump of yogurt now pushed onto your spoon.
And eventually, you take a bite – because you’re too god damn polite.
You’re polite and your mother taught you to be seen and not heard.
You eat the yogurt- bite by bite – imagine the sugar fermenting into your veins.
The fat you’ll feel on your stomach when you lie down for bed.
You let the tears stream.
And no one says anything; they just clap when you finish.
As the cafeteria clears, you leave feeling like a lamb for the slaughter.
And that night, tucked under the starch white sheets-
You cry yourself to sleep.
This is Rehab: Day One