In elementary school, I made a rule for myself that when I was coloring I couldn’t leave any white space on the paper. Pressing lightly on a crayon to paper leaves tiny white spaces, so I would press as hard as my little 6-year-old hand could, leaving layers of Crayola wax and absolutely no white space, on every drawing.
As I got older and continued to create more rules of perfection, I realized it wasn’t possible to always follow every rule. This news was devastating-how could I ever be successful at anything if I couldn’t be perfect at everything? Although I’ve been fairly successful at things, I have (almost) never been number one, numero uno, first place. Second place? Sure, yes, all the time. But there appeared to always be someone better than me at everything I did. And to deal with this epic failure that I viewed as my life, I gave myself something else to focus on: my weight.
Every morning one of the first thoughts I think upon waking is: I’m not going to eat anything today.
And the struggle begins.
Some days, I’m able to shove the thought out of the way and make room for important things; some days I spend the day in turmoil, debating for hours whether or not to eat a certain food and if there will be a consequence for it if I do. Some days, I don’t have the energy to fight something that I’m often unsure if I even really want.
On those days, no white spaces are allowed. Rules flood my mind. But it’s relieving. It’s comforting and safe to know I could succeed at losing weight. It makes me feel successful when I step on the scale–even after just one day–and see a number lower than the day before, even hours before. I’m proud of myself.
I’m not sure where else to find that feeling.
This makes me angry.
So, so, angry.
I know it’s not healthy. I know it makes other people concerned, frustrated, helpless. I know it can’t last. But sometimes, I can’t bring myself to care. Sometimes, I need to be proud of myself, and nothing else works so immediately and intensely. As fucked up as it seems, it’s very real.
Every morning, I tell myself not to eat breakfast, and every morning I try very hard to combat that urge–to let the white spaces be–because I want to live a meaningful life. I really, really do. I don’t want to be stuck for forever. Yet sometimes, it just feels impossible to not color as hard as I possibly can, leaving no white spaces.