We were snuggling on the couch the other night, watching Heroes. E’s arm was around me, and he was idly running his hand up my side, under my shirt, and it felt lovely. When his hand stopped, I grunted in a lady-like way, and nudged him. “Hey!” I said. “Don’t stop.” He paused for a second, and ran his hand back up, just below my bra strap. “Baby,” he said. “You need to gain weight. I can feel your ribs.”
You can feel my ribs, each individual one, like a xylophone. You can see them, too, under my skin. I see them every morning. You can see my collarbone, and it is sharp, and the knobs of my shoulders and the veins in my hands. And that’s super great, right? It’s so cool to be skinny, and isn’t it awesome how weight-loss surgery has given me everything I’ve ever wanted, and made me so hot and thin and perfect and all my problems are solved? High five, everyone, because I totally win!
Sometimes, you go too far in the other direction. It hurts to lie on my
side, because my knee joints grind into each other. Lying down in the
bathtub is uncomfortable, because my spine presses against the ceramic
of the tub. Sitting in a hard chair hurts my tailbone, and sometimes,
when I’m being honest with myself, when I look hard at what my body has
become, I can see how fragile the bones of my arms look. E’s worry
makes me think oh god, I am scrawny, and it is unappealing, it is
unhealthy, it has gone too far. And then, I am shocked that that is
possible. How can you be too skinny? I mean, what the fuck? This is
what I wanted to be my whole life–skin and bones. And now it’s what
I’ve got, and I have forgotten the part where also you need muscle and
fat to round it out. I was shooting for normal and unremarkable and I
went flying past to the other side of it, where people ask if I am
eating enough, and when is the weight loss going to stop, and am I okay?
This, the surgeon told me, could happen. Patients who have gotten my
type of surgery often bounce down into unrealistic weights for their
body types, and then bounce back up and stabilize. If I got too skinny,
I should call him, and we’d talk about whether I should start doing
things like drinking fruit juice and adding more meals to my day and
protein shakes. Okay! I said. But it sounded improbable. How could I
possibly get too skinny? I am a round person.
My body feels too skinny–I can feel those bones, and it is
uncomfortable to shave my legs because the blade of my shin is so
prominent, under my skin, and I need to tuck a pillow between my knees
when I curl up on my side. But sometimes, I don’t feel like I look too
skinny. I feel like I could lose more weight. That I should lose more
weight. Look at my hips, and have you seen my thighs? My belly? That’s not
just skin, it’s fat, and it needs to go away. I can’t lose anything
else anywhere, right? So it’s going to come off my goddamn thighs and
then everything will be fine and I’ll work on gaining some muscle, and
that’ll solve all my problems, right? I really don’t want a bony ass.
I don’t. But it’ll be great, when all the fat is eradicated. That’s what I’m going
for. I can hang on for a little while longer, and I don’t really look
too skinny–you’re just overreacting.
It’s body schizophrenia. I am not too skinny. I am not skinny enough. I
am scrawny. I eat enough. I really do. I drink wine. I eat chocolate. I can’t eat any more, because my stomach is
only so large. I’ll stop losing, and bounce back up. That’s what always
happens. The doctor said so. I’m fine.
I should call my doctor.
I am so scared to be fat again, okay?