The article Things People Don't Understand About Eating Disorders was what provoked my memory of the following.
When I was shopping for groceries a few days ago, an older woman - about her mid-60's - was in loose black running shorts and a sleeveless white shirt, socks and running shoes.
She had nothing but skin on bones with visible vein lines all over her lower legs. Her knee bones were the shapeliest parts of her legs, otherwise lacking even the most basic muscle, fat and plumped out skin. Her skin was not 'elderly' looking but more looked a little bit of a tightly pulled sheet with slight hangs in the joints. I was surprised she was able to stand.
Her upper body bones were visible through her shirt and not un-similarly shaped as the starving children one has seen in documentaries or commercials soliciting you to help and feed the starving children. This was a human being for at least the largest part of her life had starved herself to the point her body had to eat itself.
Normally when I see people who look like this, they're being shown in some kind of tv documentary or news story, already hospitalized. She must have weighed about 60 pounds - if i were to be generous - and was maybe 5'5".
She was looking over the fresh broccoli, handling carefully chosen ones and looking at each one thoroughly. I wondered if that was going to be her meals for the week. She had no grocery cart and not even a hand-basket, but poured over and studied that broccoli as if it would be the most important thing she would do today. And for her, it may have been.
I guess after a few minutes I snapped out of looking at her; Kind of in surprise that I had stopped my cart in the produce aisle just to look at her back towards me. And it was definitely not in disgust, why I stared at her body. It was in contemplation, wonder, and sad helplessness.
It was in sadness at the hell I know she goes through just to feel okay in her tightly pulled thin skin.
I wondered how ritualistic her life was. I wondered what rituals of eating gave her comfort. I wondered at the energy she spent in daily deciding whether to eat an extra 5 crackers and do 5 more miles as punishment or if today would be the day she felt good because she stayed hungry. I wondered what happened in her life to drive her mind to this place. I wondered if she knew she was anorexic.
I did not wonder if she knew what her body looked like. Nor did I wonder if she thought she looked good. I did not wonder if she was thin to attract a boyfriend. And neither did I wonder how she could 'do that' to herself for, I suppose, these are questions that could only come from a non eating-disorder mind activity.
I wanted to hug her so bad.
I had always enjoyed Portia de Rossi as her 'Nell' character on Ally McBeal so that when she came out as having suffered anorexia and bulimia eating disorder(s), I was impressed by her courage.
Once a person claims a disorder due to such a personal issue as eating it's quite scary - even if not on nationwide TV or a book. (Portia did both.)
Not only do they risk people offering unsolicited progress reports on what their body looks like or how they're looking or worse, advice. They also risk being picked apart due to whatever stereotypes or beliefs the masses may hold in addition to being thought of as entirely mentally imbalanced.
So I do commend her courage.
"Even when I took first prize, topped the class, won the race, I never really won anything. I was merely avoiding the embarrassment of losing." - Portia de Rossi (Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain)
Copyright © 2014, Digits at digits.newsvine.com