I am sitting in spanish class. I am 15. It’s 9:15am. The classroom phone rings and I don’t think too much about it until I unexpectedly hear my name. I am jolted and instantly frantic. I am told I need to go to the nurse’s office. I know why this is happening but I hold out hope that it’s not for what I predict. I start to prepare a lie for every possible scenario and I don’t even feel my body get up but I start walking towards the door to do as I am told. This cannot be happening.
I don’t get in trouble, ever. And this feels like I am in the most trouble that exists. I am caught and there is no way out.
I have never met the school nurse before, I don’t know exactly where the office is. I make my way to the approximate area and gather every ounce of calm I can muster. I can do this. I can pretend none of this is true. I can make her believe me. I find her office and peer around the corner to enter.
“Hey there” She confirms my name.
She tells me a couple of my friends are concerned for my health and begins to list the reasons why. She has already called my parents.
This is where I stop listening and begin planning what I now have to say to my parents. My parents know!? She thinks she has been helpful. I know this has gone so far south away from helpful and the damage is going to be hard to come back from for me.
I spend the rest of the day, all the way until 8pm, with a blood pressure that probably could have put me in the hospital. I don’t care about any of my classes. I haven’t eaten. I don’t talk to any of my friends. I go to the library for lunch. I feel betrayed by everyone. I go through the motions and somehow perform through basketball practice. When practice is over at 8pm, my mom pulls up. I am wearing a sweatshirt and am freezing cold from the cold winter air hitting my sweat. I open the car door, so afraid.
“You have a lot of explaining to do.” She says, and although my eyes fill with tears, anger quickly replaces the sadness and I put my plan into place, because this has already gone exactly as I expected and miserably opposite from what I hoped.
We don’t speak and I have collected myself, for now. We walk in and I am ordered to sit down at the dinner table.
“I got a phone call from the nurse today at work.” My dad is clearly annoyed. “Your friends claim you’re not eating lunch and you’re throwing up food you eat.” I don’t remember exactly how the rest of the conversation goes, but I deny all of it and convince them none of it is true. My dad says, “I would sure hope you wouldn’t be throwing up. That is disgusting.” That maybe he could understand skipping lunches, because he used to do that for wrestling, that’s not that big of a deal. (My mom is crying but not contributing at all and my brother is across from me at the dinner table completely silent and probably scared for me). I admit I have skipped some lunches (there has to be some truth in what my friends have said or else I wouldn’t be able to dig myself out of this mess) in order to try to lose some weight. He tells me I will never look like the top runners on the cross country team, I will never look like a runner, my body just isn’t built like that. That I should focus on basketball and not worry about looking thin. Because I’m not really a runner anyway and basketball should be my thing. I have the body of a basketball player. “Do we need to send you to a psychologist?” He says, oh so very condescendingly. “You know that kind of thing goes on your record and you could say goodbye to any thoughts of any government job. I respond with a resounding “no.” He’s not completely convinced until he forces me to call the nurse at 9pm at night, (She has given them her home number for this situation) and I am to tell her my friends have grossly exaggerated everything. I am eventually dismissed and retreat to my room, where I quietly cry for what feels like hours.
I no longer trust anyone and feel so devastatingly alone. My parents have reacted in the worst possible way. I am in trouble, not consoled.
I find out later the nurse has recommended Remuda Ranch and my mom has researched it online (I see this in the web history) but there isn’t any further conversation about any of it until the next phone call, months later. I remember thinking Remuda Ranch was an extreme suggestion. But I also remember spending hours secretly researching it myself and practically daydreaming that I would get sent there. Because my weight was never low enough for anyone’s alarm to go off, but I was so unhealthy and so trapped in severely distorted thoughts.
All. of. the. time.