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I don't want to come across as a cliched 'recovered anorexic', endlessly quoting parts of 'Wasted'. There is much I don't like about the book, how hard she tries to prove how 'sick' she was and the idea of preaching recovery from a point much more towards sickness. But I think she is a brilliant writer and there are many, many quotes from her work that really, truly get and express what it feels like to have suffered from an eating disorder, and I find inspiration in her words to carry on fighting the good fight. It is a book that needed to be written and a story that needed to be told and to heard by as many people as possible.
"There is never a sudden revelation, a complete and tidy explanation for why it happened, or why it ends, or why or who you are. You want one and I want one, but there isn't one. It comes in bits and pieces, and you stitch them together wherever they fit, and when you are done you hold yourself up, and still there are holes and you are a rag doll, invented, imperfect. And yet you are all that you have, so you must be enough. There is no other way."
"You never come back, not all the way. Always there is an odd distance between you and the people you love and the people you meet, a barrier thin as the glass of a mirror, you never come all the way out of the mirror; you stand, for the rest of your life, with one foot in this world and no one in another, where everything is upside down and backward and sad."
"I wanted to kill the me underneath. That fact haunted my days and nights. When you realize you hate yourself so much, when you realize that you cannot stand who you are, and this deep spite has been the motivation behind your behavior for many years, your brain can’t quite deal with it. It will try very hard to avoid that realization; it will try, in a last-ditch effort to keep your remaining parts alive, to remake the rest of you. This is, I believe, different from the suicidal wish of those who are in so much pain that death feels like relief, different from the suicide I would later attempt, trying to escape that pain. This is a wish to murder yourself; the connotation of kill is too mild. This is a belief that you deserve slow torture, violent death."
"It is not a sudden leap from sick to well. It is a slow, strange meander from sick to mostly well. The misconception that eating disorders are a medical disease in the traditional sense is not helpful here. There is no 'cure'. A pill will not fix it, though it may help. Ditto therapy, ditto food, ditto endless support from family and friends. You fix it yourself. It is the hardest thing that I have ever done, and I found myself stronger for doing it. Much stronger."
"You begin to forget what it means to live. You forget things. You forget that you used to feel all right. You forget what it means to feel all right because you feel like shit all the time, and you can't remember what it was like before. People take the feeling of full for granted. They take for granted the feeling of steadiness, of hands that do not shake, heads that do not ache, throats not raw with bile and small rips of fingernails forced to haste to the gag spot. Stomachs that do not begin to wake up in the night, calves and thighs knotting in muscles that are beginning to eat away at themselves. they may or may not be awakened at night by their own inexplicable sobs."
"I began to measure things in absence instead of presence."
"And so I went through the looking glass, stepped into the netherworld, where up is down and food is greed, where convex mirrors cover the walls, where death is honor and flesh is weak. It is ever so easy to go. Harder to find your way back."
"As a rule, most of us never really believed we were any good in the first place."
"We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need."
"You wake up one morning and there it is, sitting in an old plaid bathrobe in your kitchen, unpleasant and unshaved. You look at it, heart sinking. Madness is a rotten guest."
"And when, after fifteen years of bingeing, barfing, starving, needles and tubes and terror and rage, and medical crises and personal failure and loss after loss - when, after all this, you are in your early twenties and staring down a vastly abbreviated life expectancy, and the eating disorder still takes up half your body, half your brain, with its invisible eroding force, when you have spent the majority of your life sick, when you do not yet know what it means to be 'well,' or 'normal,' when you doubt that those words even have meaning anymore, there are still no answers. You will die young, and you have no way to make sense of that fact. You have this: You are thin."
"My god! people say. You have so much self-control! And later: My god. You're so, so sick. When people say this, they turn their heads, you've won your little game. You have proven your thesis that no-body-loves-me-every-body-hates-me, guess-I'll-just-eat-worms. You get to sink back into your hospital bed, shrieking with righteous indignation. See? you get to say. I knew you'd give up on me. I knew you'd leave."
"Never, never underestimate the power of desire. If you want to live badly enough, you can live. The great question, at least for me, was: How do I decide I want to live?"
"But in some ways, the most significant choices one makes in life are done for reasons that are not all that dramatic, not earth-shaking at all; often enough, the choices we make are, for better or for worse, made by default."
"Hatred is so much closer to love than indifference."
"This is the weird aftermath, when it is not exactly over, and yet you have given it up. You go back and forth in your head, often, about giving it up. It’s hard to understand, when you are sitting there in your chair, having breakfast or whatever, that giving it up is stronger than holding on, that "letting yourself go" could mean you have succeeded rather than failed. You eat your goddamn Cheerios and bicker with the bitch in your head that keeps telling you you’re fat and weak: Shut up, you say, I’m busy, leave me alone. When she leaves you alone, there’s a silence and a solitude that will take some getting used to. You will miss her sometimes...There is, in the end, the letting go."
"This is the very boring part of eating disorders, the aftermath. When you eat and hate that you eat. And yet of course you must eat. You don’t really entertain the notion of going back. You, with some startling new level of clarity, realize that going back would be far worse than simply being as you are. This is obvious to anyone without an eating disorder. This is not always obvious to you."
"Something had been confirmed: I was worth giving a shit about; I was getting to be a successful sick person. Sick is when they say something. Of course, I had been sick for five years. But now, now maybe I was really sick. Maybe I wasgetting good at this, good enough to scare people. Maybe I would almost die, and balance just there, at the edge of the cliff, wavering while they gasped and clutched one another's arms, and win acclaim for my death-defying stunts. "
"I was used to sleeping with people because I endlessly found myself in identical situations where it was easier to just fuck them than to say no."
"For a long time I believed the opposite of passion was death. I was wrong. Passion and death are implicit, one in the other. Past the border of a fiery life lies the netherworld. I can trace this road, which took me through places so hot the very air burned the lungs. I did not turn back. I pressed on, and eventually passed over the border, beyond which lies a place that is wordless and cold, so cold that it, like mercury, burns a freezing blue flame."
"I do not remember very many things from the inside out. I do not remember what it felt like to touch things, or how bathwater traveled over my skin. I did not like to be touched, but it was a strange dislike. I did not like to be touched because I craved it too much. I wanted to be held very tight so I would not break. Even now, when people lean down to touch me, or hug me, or put a hand on my shoulder, I hold my breath. I turn my face. I want to cry."