2.4.06

Dissatisfied and Hiding (Flashback Time~ Beware ye feint of heart. This is some Jerry Springer shit.)

I feel:: frustrated
What song is on a loop in my head right now:: A Perfect Circle~ Magdalena

I find myself being dissatisfied with the way I look physically again. I mean, I'm always unhappy with it, but most of the time, it's more like in the back of my mind. I push it back there in order not to dwell on it. I guess some part of me thinks that if I don't think about it, it will go away or the weight will just suddenly drop off. Talk about being unrealistic. But, now I'm in hermit-mode because I'm too embarassed of what I look like to go anywhere. I wanted to go to church this morning, but I just can't. All that talk of thinking that Marshall liked me seems like now to be just a vain wish. When I look at myself, I can understand why he would feel uncomfortable with my attentions. You know, I got up yesterday thinking it was Sunday and I was so looking forward to seeing Marshall at church. (Now, y'all know that's not the only reason I go.)

What started all of this up again was when I went with Renee to see Shooter Jennings play at Sticky Fingerz on Thursday night. After the show, she was really drunk, so I was driving her car. We drove past this sign that used to be for this place that made these super big, super tasty burgers and had the most awesom-est ice cream shakes ever. Anyway, as I passed it, I happened to look over at the sign, knowing that the business had been closed for some time, and noticed that someone had spray painted the letters: MAIN STREET DISCOUNT HOOKERS on it (It's right down the street from Juanita's,which is on Main St.). I started laughing, Renee wanted to know what I was laughing so hard about, so I just had to stop the car and point to the sign. I was laughing so hard, I couldn't breathe. Then she got all excited and had me pull into the parking lot of said closed restaurant so that she could have her picture taken in front of that sign. (Of course, you know, I was the picture-taker.) When that was done, she was still laughing and begged me to let her take my picture in front of the sign too. So, I did. We got back in her car and she was flipping through the pics on her digicam to find the ones we had just taken and when she did, another spell of laughter overtook us. That is, until she got to my picture. I stopped laughing and just sat there staring at it and said outloud, "Why do I have to be so fat?" Renee didn't take this comment very seriously, kept laughing and said something about how big her thighs were. This woman wears a size 4 jean and is about 5'7". I think I looked at her with something like incredulity on my face. She didn't seem to notice, though. I tried to put it out of my mind with some success for the rest of the drive to my house and for the rest of the next day and yesterday. Today, I got an email from her with the addy of her Yahoo Photo album, in which she had posted all those pictures from that night. I went to look at them and there I was in all my ungloriousness standing there like the fat chick who doesn't know she's fat. Now, don't go thinking that I'm impuning Renee in any way. She's a great person and has never in any way suggested that I'm overweight, needed to lose weight or in any way even intimated that there was anything wrong with the way I look. As a matter of fact, when I do make self-deprecating statements about my weight, she just looks at me like she has no clue why I would say something like that about myself.

I know that I've lost 5 lbs., but it took me a month to do it and even at that, I was taking Xenecal. I had higher hopes for that drug, but I'm not paying for another bottle of it when the price is over $100. Especially since I only lost 5 lbs. taking it. There's no way to tell if it was the drug or just me losing weight due to being constantly sick. That said, I'm still 195 lbs. respectively. It can be a few lbs. more depending on the time of day, what I've just eaten or drunk, what time of the month it is,...etc. Yes, I am obsessive about weighing myself. I actually have only weighed myself once in the past couple of weeks, but last month I weighed myself 3 or 4 times a day. I know, I know, I know that I shouldn't do that. I know that it only makes me feel like I'm failing at losing weight because weight fluctuates from day to day what with hydration levels and other things.

Let me be painfully honest (painful for me, not for y'all), I haven't been satisfied with my body since I was about 18 or 19. When I started school at Henderson University in Arkadelphia, I gained 10 pounds (the dreaded freshman 10) and then my sophmore year I was involved in a car wreck where my face went through the windsheild of my flimsy Fiero due to an old lady in a land cruiser hitting me head on. I gained more weight after that because my back was so messed up from the wreck. I have scoliosis already and the lady hit me so hard that my spine just was compressed all the way from my tailbone to my neck. When the EMTs got to the site of the accident, they actually thought my neck was broken. I had to go through several years of physical therapy after that. At that point, I was at about 150 lbs. This was 20 lbs heavier than what I started out with at 18 and this in only 2 years.

The year I was 20, I moved to Little Rock to get away from my dad. I had basically no experience in anything job wise, so I just took whatever jobs I could get. I did everything from waiting tables to nannying to being a security guard (that was actually pretty funny). Then, one night, I was hanging out in a local bar with my roomate (we'll call her Multiple-Personality L.: MPL.),when I was approached by some men who owned a company in which the girls modeled lingerie in various clubs around town. Talking to my breasts, they asked me if I wanted to try doing it. So, I did and that led to topless dancing, which led to all kinds of drug use and a drastic weight loss for me. I think at one point, I only weighed about 100 lbs. I remember wearing a size 3-4 mini skirt (I always wore mini skirts back then. I don't know why. I just liked them.) and that it was a bit big.

It was about that time that I met and got involved with Sold Out Ministries, moved in with Mom and Pop Sikes, quit completely all the drug use, drinking and smoking. Enter 60 lbs in less than a year. So, at 22, I was 160 lbs. At that point, I was living at Ground Zero, a councelor in Sold Out and running the battered women's shelter. I lost 20 lbs really quickly after I moved into Ground Zero simply because I just didn't have any food. I was working two jobs for minimum wage, one a full-time job at Wal-mart and the other a part-time job at Arby's, which made for about a 60-65 hour work week. I didn't understand, though, why I never had any food. I realize now that I was giving all that I had to the women and children who were staying with me. So, I got what was left; the things they didn't want: sugar free jello, sugar free Kool-Aid (I couldn't afford sugar.), instant Red-Eye Gravy Grits (just the thought of that makes me gag) and lots and lots of Ramen noodles. I had to get most of my food from various church food closets, so that's the reason I had such an odd smattering of food. People on the main don't give the church food closet the good things in their pantry; they give the things they don't want. So from 23-25, I was about 140 lbs, give or take a few pounds according to whether or not I had more food than usual or whether I had been eating at someone else's house.

When I was 25, 1995, Sold Out Ministry disbanded. It was past time. I can see that now. Besides, Jerry VanDyke had bought the entire building and wanted all of us freaks out of it. I had to move home with dad. He was living in Camden at the time. That December was the time I was raped; the fourth time for me. Couple that with the fact that I was dealing with severe depression, an overwhelming feeling of being betrayed by God, an abusive father and just living in Camden itself was detrimental not only to my emotional and mental state, but also to my weight. I gained 20 lbs in the 7 or 8 months I lived with Dad. There I was, 26, and 160 lbs.
I moved back to Little Rock right at the beginning of 1996, again, mainly to get away from Dad. I moved in with my friend, Alisha, briefly. But when I accidentally found her private journal one day, I found out just how she felt about my staying there. A few days later, she told me that she thought her boyfriend, Paul, (now her husband) was going to ask her to marry him and that I should find another place to live. Amazingly, I got the cocktail waitressing job at Juanita's and an apartment at about the same time and before Alisha got openly hostile towards me. (Looking back now, I can understand her frustration because it took forever for me to find a job and I had no car until dad decided to be altruistic and buy me one. She just couldn't afford to support the both of us.)

I moved into my apartment downtown, only a few blocks away from Juanita's and registered at the local cosmetology school to finish and get my license so I could, you know, do hair. I went to school 40 hours a week and worked at Juanita's about 40 hours a week, so you can guess that I lost a bit of weight just from all that activity; it was only 10 lbs though. The year that I worked at Juanita's I stayed between 150 and 160 lbs. I managed to finish up my hours at the cosmetology school and take my final test in order to get my license. There were two parts to that test: written and practical. I aced the written, getting 97% on it, but I failed the practical by one point. You have to pass both in order to get a cosmetology license. Right about that time, the money was going to shit at Juanita's because Alltel had just cleared land in North Little Rock for the new Alltel arena. This meant that a lot of businesses, mainly bars, got torn down. Juanita's, in turn, got that business. You would think that would be a good thing, but it wasn't. The clientele from the North Little Rock bars were entirely different than the clientele at Juanita's at the time. It went from generously tipping, upper class yuppies to the no tipping lower class clientele. I'm not impuning people who don't have any money. Jesus, I have no money. It's just that when you wait tables, you live off your tips and you want the kind of people who tip well. What happened was just this: when the mostly black clientele from the North Little Rock bars started coming to Juanita's, the mostly white yuppie clientele left. I guess the white people got freaked out. At any rate, Juanita's was no longer THE bar to go to. It was some really yuppie bar out in W. Little Rock. As a consequence, my tips went from $200-300 a night to barely $50 a night. So, I quit there, thinking that I would find a job in one of those bars that everyone was going to in W. Little Rock. The only problem was and what I came to realize during the interview process was that they were only hiring very thin, very pretty 20-something girls for cocktail waitresses. I didn't fit in at all so no job for me. I went for two months being unemployed. During that time, I was going out a lot and drinking way, way too much and taking too many painkillers just so I could feel that safe-wrapped-up-in-a-blankey-feeling. I gained 10 lbs (up to 170 now) by 1997. The owners of my apartment understandably wanted their rent from me, the electric was shut off at my apartment, I was down to my last stores of food (Ramen again) and I had a puppy and a cat that I couldn't afford to feed. I got an eviction notice from the owners of my apartment, freaked out and tried to kill myself with a combination of an overdose of pills and a butcher knife. I wasn't playing around. I didn't want to wake up in a hospital somewhere with some nurse's aide purging my stomach with charcoal and having stitches from my wrists to my elbows.

Luckily (or not depending on my wildly vascillating perspective), my suicide attempt was aborted because I just chickened out. I wound up instead sitting on my bed, which was on the floor because I didn't have a bed frame, staring at rows of pills I had carefully laid out in front of me and at the very large butcher knife laying just within reach also on the bed. I got angry. I can't really explain all the emotions that were going through my head at that moment, but instead of slicing my arms, I began to stab my mattress with the butcher knife in such a savage way that I surprised myself. When my anger subsided, I was sitting on a mattress that was nearly cleaved in two. I still wanted to take the pills, but was still too chicken, so I drove to the gas station up the street to use the pay phone to call 911. (I didn't have a phone. I never could afford one.) 3 police cars showed up, which means there were 6 officers there, all trying to convince me that I had everything in the world to live for and that I should commit myself to the State Hospital for a few days. That scared me even more than the thought of killing myself. So, I assured them (It took a few hours.) that I wasn't going to do myself in using the excuse, "What's going to happen to my puppy and my cat if I kill myself or commit myself for a week?" They finally left with my promises to them that I would seek therapy.

I did get evicted from that apartment, but I had found another one, albeit with the recommendation of my boss at the time (I had just started a job selling satellite systems door-to-door. The big ones. My boss, I found out later, was a convicted felon). So, I moved to Jacksonville. I had to quit that job because I wasn't making any money, my boss was daily demanding that I give him blow jobs in order to keep my job, and I was having 3-4 panic attacks a day. I got a job at the Excelsior hotel, but it wasn't in time to pay the rent on the apartment in Jacksonville, so I got evicted from that apartment too. I was dating/sleeping with Erik at the time and he, thankfully, let me move in with him for awhile and didn't make me pay rent or anything. I lived there for a few months, just long enough to get some money put back and got my own apartment downtown, right behind Juanita's, just a block away from the Governor's Mansion.

By this time, I was 28, working as a Concierge Attendant at the Excelsior hotel and trying like hell to find ways to put more hours on my time sheet because they were only paying me $6.00 an hour. The job was supposed to be 20-30 hours a week, but I managed, through some conniving and fibbing to make it into a 40-45 hour a week job. That was the good part, I guess, but the bad part was that I was still really depressed, still smoking and eating everything in sight in the Concierge Salon, which mainly consisted of pastries (I got two very large plates of pastries every morning from the kitchen to take up to the Salon for the "Continental Breakfast" for the VIPs who were staying above the 17th floor.)Within a few months of working there, I gained 30 lbs. Now 28 and 200 lbs, the largest I'd ever been, I really didn't know what to do with myself, so I pretty much just hermited away that year.

I met Jessica through Erik. He was letting her stay at his apartment because she was pregnant and had no where else to go. Along with Jessica, a girl named Tanya was staying there as well. I came to find out rather quickly, through Jessica, that Erik and Tanya were sleeping together. I was jealous and hurt because Erik was still sleeping with me and declaring his undying love for me. I attributed this betrayal to my amazing weight gain and the fact that Tanya was so much slimmer than me, plus she was a topless dancer and, at the time, Erik had a fascination with them. Well, the Erik and Tanya thing didn't last long. He became obsessed with another dancer named Ann. The only problem with that was that she was married, but sleeping with Erik. Erik went into a crazy tailspin of anger and depression, which Jessica told me about in detail. She told me one night that he was scaring her because he had gotten so moody and violent and that she was going to go to a homeless shelter to live. She had just begun her second trimester of pregnancy and I immediately told her that she wasn't to do any such thing; that she was going to move in with me.

Jessica lived with me for the rest of the time she was pregnant. I was there for the birth of her baby, a girl, who she gave up for adoption. I was very sad at this and looking back, I believe that Jessica was too, but she dealt with it in an entirely different way. The day she got out of the hospital after giving birth, she demanded that I take her out to this certain strip club because she wanted to drink and she knew the bartender that worked there. Evidently, they were fuck buddies. His girlfriend worked at the bar with him, but had no idea as far as I know that these two were sleeping together. That night, she got rip roaring drunk and I basically had to carry her inside my apartment. After that night, Jessica went on an almost vertical downward spiral. She continued drinking to excess nearly every night, smoking two to three packs of cigarettes a day (she had smoked while she was pregnant as well, but not that much), and she started taking those over-the-counter respiratory pills. You know the kind that you used to only be able to get at gas stations; they were marketed as "respiratory pills" for asthmatics, but really what they were was just a legal form of speed since the basic ingredient was Ephedra. Jessica also started dancing again at the bar where her bed buddy worked. This was only a week or so after she had given birth. At the club, she was able to get all manner of pills and things to snort and smoke, but her preference was Meth. She started losing weight fast and when I saw that she was taking these over-the-counter pills (I didn't know at the time that she was doing Meth.), I started taking them too. She wasn't eating at all, maybe once every couple of weeks, so I stopped eating as well. This was my first relapse of Anorexia since high school. I went without eating for a solid month, in which I lost 40 lbs., all the while taking those damned pills. They made me feel like a nervous wreck all the time but my mind was such that, at the time, I could reconcile this to myself as being worth it if I could continue to lose weight. So, I went about my life for a month speeding my ass off and at the same time desperately wanting something to eat, but afraid to eat anything lest I gain even a pound.

I've heard therapists say that when Anorexics get together that it's easier for them to get lost in their disease because they support each other. I found this to be true with Jessica. At the end of each day, or whenever we got to see each other, we would recount the things we had put in our bodies; comparing, contrasting and covertly competing with each other. Jessica was always smaller than me, though. Even at the peak of her pregnancy, she weighed 160 lbs, which was still 40 lbs less than what I weighed at the time and I wasn't even pregnant. That simple fact galled me so much. I think it was part of what kept me going without eating for so long and even after I had lost 40 lbs., I was still unsatisfied because I kept thinking to myself, "Jessica was 160 lbs. when she gave birth."

We didn't live for long in my little apartment after Jessica had her baby. We went apartment hunting and found this ridiculously huge 3-story condo in Maumelle that we just loved and made plans to move in. Meanwhile, Jessica had been saving money and wanted to get her own car. I was all for this, because I was tired of chauffering her around. She had me take her down into Rose City where she bought a car from a dealer that was pretty shady. Still, I thought to myself, "She has her own car now. That's good." The day we were to move out of my apartment, we had rented a small Uhaul truck, but we had forgotten to get the ramp that you have to have if you are going to put any large pieces of furniture in it. Why we got one without a built-in ramp, I don't know. I thought they all came with built-in ramps that you could just pull out. Anyway, Jessica said that she would drive back over to the N. Little Rock Uhaul place to get the ramp. When she came back about 30 minutes later, she pulled up to the curb and parked and there was a police car right behind her with its lights on. See, Jessica had neglected to get a license for her car. She kept saying that she knew she needed to before the 30 days were up that she had from the time she bought the car. Well, the 30 days came and went. She and I were both so spun out of our minds that we didn't pay attention or didn't remember or just didn't care. When the cop got out of his car, he told her that she had run out of time to get a license for her vehicle and he was just going to give her a ticket for driving an unlicensed vehicle, but when he ran her driver's license, it came back that she had outstanding felony warrants in Bentonville and Fayetteville. I think there were three and two of them were for child neglect and child abandonment. See, the baby that she had just had was not her first, but her third. When she had lived in Fayetteville, she had had her second child, whom she also gave up for adoption when she was forced to due to the neglect and abandonment issues. Evidently, the reason she wound up in Little Rock was because she was fleeing those warrants. Needless to say, the cop arrested her. She was transferred from the Little Rock jail to the Bentonville jail and her car was repoed a few days later by the shady car dealer.

The problem I had at that moment was that I had already given notice to my landlord that I was moving out of that apartment, which was already rented to someone else, and had made arrangements to move, via deposit and first month's rent, to the condo in Maumelle. The problem was that now I had no one to help me move my furniture because Jessica was sitting in jail. I called up Scott, who had worked with me in Sold Out and begged him to help me. He said that he had other plans and at first said that he couldn't (I think he said he had band practice.), but because of my begging and crying, he agreed to come over and help me move my furniture. We moved everything into the living room of the condo in Maumelle except for my bedroom furniture, which we hefted upstairs to the second level.

The rent on that condo was $800 a month and at my job at Excelsior I made $800 a month, so I had to get an additional job, which I did at a neighboring hotel, the Doubletree. I got a job as the Assistant Manager of the restaurant there, which was also a 40 hour a week job. So, working 80 hours a week, I managed for a little while to make my bills on that amazingly expensive condo. I'm sure you can guess that I didn't gain any more weight while working 80 hour work weeks. I didn't eat, I barely slept and basically felt like I would never not be tired again. All this time, Jessica was calling me collect constantly from the jail in Bentonville trying to convince me to bail her out and to try to get her car back from the shady car dealer. Like the dumbass I can sometimes be, I bailed her out. It cost me $1500 dollars and 3 fake titles to nonexistent cars, which I got from her fuck buddy when I went over to his house in a panic and told him that she had been arrested. He was just that kind of guy to have 3 fake titles to nonexistent cars laying around. So, I took this poor guy who had the biggest crush on me and whom I worked with at Doubletree with me to get Jessica out of jail, mainly because he gave me like $800 of the $1500 it took to bail her out. We drove from Little Rock to Bentonville in the middle of the night, arriving at the Bentonville jail sometime around 7:30 or 8am.

Well, all went well for her because of me and I even went before her parole officer and assured him that I was a respectable and responsible citizen because I was a "Youth Minister". That was a lie. I mean, I had been, but there was no way that I was fit for any kind of ministry at that time. I drove her to three court dates in Bentonville to secure her probation. The judge only granted her probation because I said that I would be responsible for her since I was the "Youth Minister". He let her go and gave her a date to come back to court sometime in the near future. I think it was 2 months or something. Anyway, we went back to the condo in Maumelle and she began dancing and doing Meth again and I relapsed into Anorexia again, but this time I only lost 10 lbs before I couldn't stand the thought of having food in the kitchen that I couldn't/wouldn't eat. I can remember going out to eat with Sally and just sitting there watching her put food in her mouth just wishing that I could, but at the same time feeling superior because I felt I had the willpower. What a bunch of bullshit. So, I went down to 150 lbs and made a weak attempt at stripping again. I was also at the time working at Brandon House trying to sell furniture. Let's be honest here, I'm a shitty salesperson and I made absolutely no money working there and when I started showing up for work with bruised knees due to the floor work I had to do at my nightly stripping job, they got suspicious and fired me. I kept working at the club for a little while after that, but there was just something about it that wasn't so shiny anymore. When I looked around me, all I could see were desperate women who didn't think they could do or deserved any other kind of job and then I realized that I was one of them.

During the short time I worked at Brandon House, Jessica met and started dating a man that I worked with. She was dancing too, but at a different club. They started doing Meth together and everything just continued to go right into the shitter. I met and started dating the brother of Ann, the dancer whom Erik had previously been so obsessed with. Well, he gave me an especially painful STD called Trichomoniasis, the bacteria of which is only found in fecal matter. Now, I've never been a "back door girl", so it took me little while to figure out the chain of who he had slept with that had led to the STD that I had. His ex-girlfriend, who lived in the apartment right next door to him, he was still sleeping with and, evidently, he had a penchant for anal sex. I remember Jessica telling me, "I told you he likes anal." (She had slept with him before me.) So, when I went to the doctor and got diagnosed, I was all, "What the hell is Trichomoniasis?" The doctor explained it to me and I realized what had happened. He had had anal sex with her and then a few minutes/hours later came to my apartment and had sex with me. The problem with that, other than the fact that he was a man-ho, was that he hadn't washed himself and traces of fecal matter were still on his penis. I know what you're thinking, "You had sex without a condom?" Well, at the time, we had been dating for several months and he had begun declaring his love for me and talking of marriage. So, we sort of agreed to move our relationship to the next step, which according to him, involved having sex without condoms. (Again, chalk that up to my foolishness.) The first time we had sex without a condom was when he infected me. We had sex one night and it only took the time period from then until the next night for me to start having abdominal pain so bad that I couldn't stand. I had to leave work and somehow managed to drive myself home. In addition to the abdominal pain, my whole genital area felt like someone had been using a cheese grater on it. I couldn't sit comfortably, I couldn't lay in my bed comfortably, and I definitely couldn't sleep. Who knows why, but I called Erik and told him what was going on and that I was super scared, after all, I had no idea right then that what I had was a curable STD. I had all sorts of terrible thoughts running rampant in my head, like I had a tumor or that my uterus was falling out. The next day, I made an appt. with my family doctor and got the bad news. The good news was that it was completely curable, but I had to take a month or so's worth of these very high powered antibiotics, which made me nauseous. All in all, the Trichomoniasis incident took such a toll on my immune system that it took me 6 months to fully recover from it. Not in all that time, did my ex contact me, even though he had heard through Jessica and his sister how sick I was. (I ran into him several years later and he vociferously denied ever giving that to me. Even going so far as to accuse me of sleeping around on him, which I thought was hysterical. What was even more funny was that he wanted to get back together with me. I guess he really thought I was that much of a fool. I am foolish sometimes, but not so much so that I would get back together with someone who gave me something that it took me 6 months to recover from.) Well, during my 6 months of recovery, I lost another 10 lbs. I was down to 140 and wearing a size 8-9 jean. I was happy with that, even though I had lost it through sickness, especially considering that it was only 10 lbs more than what I had weighed in high school.

Jessica, true to her nature, missed her court date and the judge put out a felony bench warrant for her. The bailbondsman that I had used to bail her out of jail contacted me and threatened me saying that he would take every scrap of everything I owned, even my car which didn't belong to me, but to my dad, away from me if I didn't either pay him the 150,000 he was owed since she neglected to appear in court or tell him where she was so he could get her in custody and back in jail. She had basically moved out of the condo by then, having shacked up with the guy she had been dating that I had worked with at Brandon House. I had been over there a few times, so I knew exactly where the house was. The bailbondsman called me at work and gave me the same ultimatum again, so I told him, "Why don't you just drive yourself down here and I'll take you to where she is." This might seem treacherous and back-stabbing to some, but what was I supposed to do? I bailed her out of jail and she took advantage of me on numerous occasions, like skipping bail, like keeping Meth in our apartment when I had asked her not to, like inviting a bunch of her stripper friends over only to find out that one of them had stolen my rent money right out of my purse, among other things. I felt it was time for me to stand up for myself and that it was time for some payback. So, the bailbondsman drove down here from Bentonville with a buddy of his just in case things got violent. I met them at the Pizza Hut parking lot on S. University, left my car there and rode with them to where Jessica was staying. While I was with them, they just drove by, as I showed them which house she lived in and assuring them that she was indeed there. I had just talked to her a couple of hours before and I knew that she didn't have to be at the club until 7 or 8 pm. They dropped me off at my car and suggested that I stay in the Pizza Hut parking lot until I saw them drive by with Jessica in custody. I did and when I saw them drive by with her in the backseat (The bailbondsman had a kingcab truck), I was sad and on the verge of tears. I let the tears come and cried all the way home and for the rest of that night. One part of me was saying that I had done the right thing, but another part of me was saying that I loved her like a sister no matter what she had done to me and how could I do that to someone I loved? She wound up having to spend a year in the women's unit at Comin's (sp?) prison for that little stint.

About a week or so after Jessica was re-arrested, I started to freak out because I knew that I couldn't afford that condo on my own and I really, really didn't want to go back to working 80 hour weeks. So, I called up Tanya and left a message on her machine at her house that I wanted to talk to her and that I would be at the club that night. I went to the club, trepidatious and expecting Tanya to call me everything but a white woman. According to her version, she was shocked as shit to see me sitting there at bar waiting patiently to talk to her, because she thought I hated her because of what happened with Erik. We began a tenuous conversation and it kept getting better and better, so much so that by the end of the night, she had agreed to be my roomate and we had agreed over not a few drinks that Erik was, among other choice words, a complete asshole. She moved in with me, thank God, and now is one of my very closest friends. I love her without reservation. She is only one of two other people that are that close to me: the other two being Sally and Ashley. I love them without reservation as well.

A month or so went by with Tanya and I being roomates when she broached the subject that she could no longer afford to pay the $400 per month which was half of the $800 per month rent on the condo, because she wasn't making that much in tips at the club. I suggested she try a different field of work, because I desperately wanted her to get out of that strip club atmosphere. She agreed and got a job at a factory in Maumelle which makes the electric wiring that you see dangling precariously over your head wherever you go. They didn't pay her much, not nearly what she was worth (like that was a surprise) and worked her overtime on numerous occasions. She got so tired that she was constantly sick. She kept going to work, though. Even with her new job, she said that she still couldn't afford her half of the rent because she had to pay for her gas and her car and insurance payments, plus the utilities on the condo. By this time, I had acquired an 8am to 5pm job at Bale Chevrolet working the switchboard and making roughly $7.00 to $7.50 per hour, which was more than Tanya was making even with all her over time. It's amazing how much taxes the govt. takes out of overtime pay. Anyway, we talked about it and agreed that since we never used the third story room that we should get a roomate. Oddly enough, that roomate turned out to be Erik. By this time, I had been working at Bale for several months, sitting on my ass for 8 hours a day and eating everything in sight. I gained 20 lbs: 160 lbs.

I worked at Bale for a year, and when I could stand it no longer (For those of you who know me and are aquainted with that eye twitch I have when I get stressed, that's where it originated. It got so bad while I was working at Bale that Ashley said that sometimes it looked like I was winking at her.) I moved from Bale to Sam's Club, which was just right up the street from Bale thinking that it would be a less stress environment and I was getting paid more: starting pay there for me was $9.50 per hour. I also wouldn't be working with the public so much as would have been if I had been a cashier. I worked in the grocery department, cleaning, organizing and restocking grocery products. To do it right, one sweep of the entire department, took my entire shift. So, I just started at the front and worked my way back mainly because when it came time to take a break or to clock out for the day, I wanted to be near the time clock so that I could get out of there as quickly as possible. Due to all the excercise I was getting at Sam's: squatting constantly, carrying heavy boxes of canned goods and other things (everything comes in bulk at Sam's), constantly cleaning and having to work in the freezer area (that was the hardest part because not only are you lifting lots of heavy things and squatting to put them in their proper areas, but you are standing inside a freezer), and walking the length and breadth of the store several times a day, I lost 10 lbs. So, I was back to 150 lbs.

That winter was the year that the entire city was iced in for two weeks or so and millions of people were without electricity for longer than that. I was one of those people. At the time, I lived in an apartment complex that was situated on the top of Cantrell Hill. For those of you who aren't famiilar with Little Rock, let me give you just a glimpse of how long and steep Cantrell Hill is. Every time you go up or down it, the drop/rise is so vertical that it causes your ears to pop and forget about trying to get up that hill in an older model car with a standard transmission with the air conditioner going. I had a Mitsubishi Eclipse for awhile and everytime I had to drive up Cantrell Hill, I had to turn off the air/heat and shift down into a lower gear just to get to the top of it. Also, the apartment complex I lived in had a driveway that was just about a 45 degree angle down from the side of Cantrell, essentially putting it in it's own little valley (It was called Valley Heights. Go figure.) When it started to ice over, I couldn't go anywhere and my electric was out for 2 weeks at least. I lit every candle I had to try to get warm. I had to wear multiple layers of clothing at all times and I had to sleep in those multiple layers under several blankets and comforters in order to be the least bit warm. It doesn't usually get that cold here, but I think the temp was hovering somewhere around 2 degrees Farenheit with a windchill something ridiculous like -15 degrees Farenheit. Well, because I had no electricity and no way to cook anything to eat and no way to leave to get something to eat, I was forced to forage through my pantry to try to find something to eat that didn't require cooking. I learned to like Peanut Butter. A lot. I lived on Peanut Butter almost exclusively for 2 weeks or so and lost another 5 pounds, give or take. So, I think at that time, I was about 145 lbs. When the storm was over and all the ice had melted, Sam's expected me to come back to work, but I didn't. I instead got a job at Cingular Wireless as a Customer Service Representative.

After a few months of working there and when I began to feel secure about my money situation, I began to buy groceries, so you can imagine that I started gaining weight. Desk job with no exercise= 30 lb weight gain. So, I was back to 170 lbs again. At first, I enjoyed my job at Cingular, after all they were paying me a salary. I had never been a salaried employee before and my salary was $20,000 per year plus I was elible for benefits like 401k, insurance and I could even have joined the Union. Well, the honeymoon didn't last long at Cingular. I think I worked there less than 6 months. After I quit, I was unemployed for two months, in which my dad paid my rent and utilities. I was really depressed and in super-hibernation mode when he called me bitching about how he couldn't afford to pay for me any longer. So, I suggested that we move in together and told him that I wanted to go back to college. His only response to that was, "Well, shit."

We moved into the house I live in now in 2001. I applyed for grants and loans, but I couldn't start school that Fall semester because the registration dates had already passed and I would have needed to apply for financial aid before registering anyway and it takes a little while to get approved for financial aid. So, I had to wait until the Spring semester to start. From then until January, when the Spring semester started, I just hermited. I ate a lot and took a lot of muscle relaxers and pain killers that I didn't need because I was just that depressed. I just wanted to be numb all the time. It's surprising to me that I only gained 10 lbs during that time. So, that puts me at 180 lbs when I started school.

The second semester of my first year at UALR, I had had my fill of watching all those teensy little 20-somethings run around in barely nothing and looking like they had just stepped out of a Gap ad. So, I decied to give the high protein-low carb thing a try. It took a few months for me to get it adjusted just right for me. I mean, at first I read the Atkins book, which says you can have all the fat you want and still lose weight, but you can't have any carbs whatsoever. That didn't work for me. I figured out that in order for me to lose weight, I had to not eat carbs, or anything with sugar in it, but also, the meat I ate had to be extremely lean (low fat) meat. So, I started buying low-fat hot dogs (which aren't really "meat", but at the time I didn't really care), low-fat cheese, chicken in bulk which I cut the fat off of and ground turkey instead of ground beef. I also began to eat a lot of Tuna. At first, I was hungry all the time, but eventually, I got used to the no carb thing and even got to the point that when I would eat sugar or heavy carbs of any kind (besides vegetables) my body would rebel against me and I would either vomit or it would eventually come out the other end with an amazing amount of pressure (You know what I'm talking about, right?). As my appetite subsided, so did my eating and I got to where I was eating less than an 8 oz piece of meat a day and only drinking water. I slipped into another relapse of Anorexia. I went from 180 to about 155-160. That's not accurate because I didn't have a scale at the time. I previously had sent mine to the grave in a fit of rage by throwing it on the concrete outside on the driveway and stomping on it with my steel-toed parachute boots. I know I was wearing about a size 8 or 9 jean at the time, so I think that weight is consistent with the size I was. I may even have been 150, but I'll never know because the scale had become my mortal enemy and I had vowed never to buy one again.

One can only go so long with Anorexia, especially if you like food as much as I do. After several months of not eating hardly anything, I got angry. I convinced myself that I was angry at society in general for making me feel like I had been fat my whole life by constantly bombarding me with image after image of women with bodies and faces that I could never hope to attain. So, out of anger, I started eating whatever I wanted again. This was the only way I could convince myself to eat. After awhile, I stopped being sick from eating and my body began to accept food again. I gained back up to about 170. I know I was about 170 because I had saved the jeans I had worn when I had previously been 170 and those were the ones that fit. Like I said before, I had sent the scale to hell. I stayed 170 for a couple of years due to my constant vascillation between high-protein Anorexia and regular eating ( I considered this to be binging. I thought in my mind, "How can someone eat this much food and not call it binging?" Of course, coming from the place where I was, only eating at the most every other day, it was binging to me to eat three meals a day plus snacks.)

At any rate, my weight stayed the same until I had...let's call it a minor nervous breakdown. What it was was a severe panic attack that left me completely unable to deal with the outside world. This happened 4 semesters into my college career. I stopped going to all of my classes, instead of dropping them, and subsequently failed them all and as a result lost all of my financial aid. After all, they don't just give financial aid to people who have a string of Fs on their report card. The school told me that I had to pay for 9 hours of classes on my own before I could get my financial aid back. I appealed that decision by writing a letter to the office of Financial Aid explaining my situation (and you all know that when I get going I can really write) and won the right to regain my financial aid with the stipulation that I had to make a C or above in every class in order to get financial aid for the upcoming semester. I did make at least a C in every class except one: Algebra. It's been my nemesis since high school. I failed it miserably because at every class I had a panic attack and every test caused me to have a panic attack, so that meant I rarely went to class and turned in all my tests completely blank. After that debacle, the school said that I had no more chances for appeal in this matter and that I would definitely have to pay for 9 hours of classes out of my own pocket in order to get back my financial aid. I told Dad that I would get a job and work that semester and save money enough to go back to school the following semester. A good idea except for the fact that I couldn't find a job to save my life. It even got to the point where I got paranoid and thought someone had black-balled me, but I couldn't think who would have done it. I had no job, no money and just sat around the house in the dark watching movies all semester. Yes, again, I gained weight. I went up to 190 lbs. I know this because on the odd chance, I passed by the school gym where there was a scale just standing there waiting to be used. I couldn't resist since I hadn't weighed myself in such a long time. Needless to say, what I saw on the scale sent me into hibernation for a few weeks.

When it became clear to my dad that no matter how hard I tried, I wasn't going to get hired by anyone, he told me that he would take out a loan for the 9 hours it was required that I pay for before I got my financial aid back. I took those hours in summer school. Among the classes that I took was a Water Aerobics class, which I loved. I didn't love smelling like chlorine every day, but l loved being in the water. I lost 10 lbs in that 6 week summer term. Back to 180. That Fall semester I registered for classes and again signed up for Water Aerobics because I had enjoyed it so much and because I realized that I had lost weight doing it and because I didn't find it to be that hard. This amazed me because every time I had excercised before, I had had to work out until I felt like passing out in order to just lose a few pounds every few weeks. I couldn't believe it was so much fun and so easy and yet I was losing weight. I thought it was the best thing since the time I had finally found a pair of four-inch heels that were comfortable enough to wear for several hours at a time without feeling like I had clubbed feet.

I had another breakdown that semester, but this time instead of not going to all of my classes and having all those Fs bring down my G.P.A. drastically like it did the last time, I dropped them all. This caused me to lose my financial aid for the next semester anyway and I got another letter from UALR stating that I would have to pay for 9 hours on my own before I could get any more financial aid. I spent the rest of that semester holed up in my house eating ice cream and gained 20 lbs. Now, I was back to 200 lbs.

Amidst my depression, anxiety, and ice cream eating, I waited until the very last minute to write an appeal letter to the Financial Aid office. I think I sent it the week before classes started. I fretted and lost sleep over whether or not I would get my financial aid, but I one day, I took this leap of faith and feeling like I had stepped out into nothing but air, registered for my classes without knowing whether or not I was going to have the money to pay for them. I found out the second week of classes that I my appeal had been successful and it came with the same stipulation as before that I make at least a C in every class in order to continue getting financial aid. I went the first 2 weeks of classes without books, which caused me even more anxiety so I ate more ice cream and gained another 10 lbs. 210 now.

I got bronchitis again this semester, which I thankfully caught before it got really bad, which caused me to lose the 10 lbs that I had gained at the start of this semster. Then, I called my family doctor because I had just gotten to the point where if I didn't start losing weight somehow that I felt like I was going to start carving it off my body with my dad's filet knife that has the beautiful engraved wooden handle that he got when he was in Korea. I asked my Dr. for some Xenecal, which I found out was outrageously expensive, but at the time, I didn't care. Sally had used it before and she had lost 12 pounds, so I figured if she did, I would too. Summarily, and like I said at the beginning of this uber-long post, I took it for a month and only lost 5 lbs. So, now I weigh 195 lbs. I still feel this body doesn't belong to me; like it belongs to someone else. I'm not comfortable in it, but yet I haven't gotten to the point with my antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication yet to commit to an excercise program and I'm afraid that if I start doing high-protein/low-carb again that I will slip into another relapse of Anorexia, which would not only harm my body further, but it would be detrimental to my state of mind.

Suffice it to say that the picture Renee took of me in front of that fucking sign made me realize just how fat I am and how disgusted I am with myself. Now, I really don't know what to do. There is a part of me that tells me to just not eat at all (those fucking Anorexic voices), there is another part of me that says, "Fuck it. If people don't like you because of the way you look then they're just shallow people and you don't want to be friends with them anyway." But that last thing doesn't resonate very strongly with me as I've never really cared what other people thought. It's what I think of myself when I look in the mirror (or at a picture of myself) that makes or breaks me. As of right now, I feel broken and I've had nothing at all today except coffee and a small glass of juice. After I finally finish this up, I plan to go back to bed as I've taken 2 Klonopin and am feeling it so much so that I'm having trouble walking straight. I realized this on one of the potty breaks I had to take during the course of writing this.

I'm not suicidal. I'm just extremely frustrated and extremely tired of being fat and not feeling like this body is mine.

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