There are two times in my life I’ve lost a significant amount of weight in a relatively short period of time. Sadly, both of those times involved relationships and the dissolving thereof.
Contrary to a lot of women I know, when I am experiencing extreme stress, I do not react by plowing through a gallon of ice cream or a bag of chips. No, it’s quite the opposite – I find it physically impossible to eat. Like, anything. The mere thought of food nauseates me and on the rare occasion I do manage to choke something down, it seems to have the taste and consistency of sawdust. And seriously – if the only thing on today’s menu was sawdust, don’t you think you’d find it pretty easy to turn it down?
The last time this happened was back in 2001, when my marriage took an unplanned and abrupt dump. Looking back now all the signs were there, but of course what is it they say about hindsight? At the time it was quite the nasty surprise and I was in no way prepared for it. Digesting food immediately became the last thing on my to-do list and it wasn’t too long before my clothes started literally hanging off of me and I suddenly had cheekbones where there had previously been none. The first few weeks of this, all I could stomach was coffee (preferably convenience store Vanilla Cappuccino) and those Keebler Sugar Wafer cookies. After that my diet expanding a little to include some other things, but never an entire meal and certainly nothing resembling good nutrition.
I’m not saying this is healthy; I’m just telling it like it was.
Within a few months’ time, things were still chaotic in all areas of my life and I felt perpetually in limbo. Everything was temporary: my living arrangements, my job and my emotions, which seemed to change on an hourly basis. Unfortunately, I turned to some unhealthy substances with which to help me cope and I’m sure this also contributed to my amazing shrinking woman act.
My loved ones started to take notice. And they started making comments. I now know this was out of concern, but at the time, I wasn’t even trying to hear that shit.
On a ten-day trip to New York with my aunt, uncle and cousin, I was having a really hard time covering up the extent of my unhealthiness. I mean, good Lord, we were together twenty-four hours a day and for part of the time in what I consider to be the food capital of the world, New York City. One particularly hot and aromatic July day, we were out shopping on the streets of China Town. My diet that day had consisted of nothing but Diet Coke and various pills, not that they were aware of that. While standing outside on the sidewalk in front of one of the thousands of stores we’d been in, I abruptly vomited. Right there, in broad daylight in front of my family, God and the good people of Manhattan.
I later found out this was the beginning of a fairly serious Kim-related rumor. My aunt was convinced I had picked up an eating disorder and put the word out to the family grape vine. Not being able to explain that I simply had no appetite most of the time due to my all-encompassing heartache, I protested to anyone who brought it up that it was silly of her to think that and that it was entirely untrue.
I’ve never been one of those people who after eating or drinking too much could stick my finger down my throat. Oh, trust me; there were several occasions after nights of doing shots and playing drinking games or ridiculously overdoing it during a holiday dinner that I tried. Not because I’ve ever had Anorexia. More like because I felt like I was in danger of exploding and wanted relief. But there wasn’t one time I was ever successful at it. Maybe this is very lucky in the scheme of things; who knows.
What I do know is this: eating disorder or not, it’s not at all pleasant to be on the receiving end of so much attention drawn to your weight and/or eating habits. Yes, I was too skinny. (Not that it wasn’t fun to put on my friend Jen’s Size 0’s and zip them up with the greatest of ease…) But why do people feel it’s acceptable to comment on someone else’s weight when it is a case of being underweight that is the problem? I certainly would never have dreamed to retort back with, “Well, you and Uncle Richie are both looking pretty chunky these days – are you sure YOU don’t have an eating disorder?”
These days my marriage is great and life is too, for the most part. I’m thankful food tastes like food again and that I currently have no real drama in my life to speak of. (Besides the whole infertility issue, but that’s a whole different Oprah). However. I don’t think I’d be too unhappy hearing someone say, “You’re too skinny; you need to eat!” right about now. I do long for that empty stomach feeling and am looking forward to the day where I feel in control of food again. I guess what I’m hoping for is more of a balance. If I can ever figure out how to be happy AND healthy at the same time, well then that would really be something.