That being said, I have real problems too. Sure, I like to dwell on the ones that are, in the long run, more insignificant: Ah, man, I don't have a boyfriend. Man, I wish I could have a good time without drinking. Dang, I wish I had more time to write what's in my head. Those things don't matter. At the end of the day, yes, I've got no one to kiss, I drink a little more often than I should, and even though I write every day, I still have more ideas in my head than there are hours to get them out.
But there are problems that have more gravity than any of that, problems that don't go away, problems that make "looking on the bright side" nearly impossible.
I don't like to talk about it because, let's face it, it's not a topic most want to hear but I've struggled with eating disorders for more than half my life. There's no one reason for this. I can't blame it on my parents or on ballet class or on being fat because I've always been a twig of a thing. In fact, right now, at 5'6" and 120 pounds, I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my life. For the most part, I'm okay with that but the fact of the matter is that I have very literal skeletons in my closet and they haunt me every time I get dressed, every time I get undressed, every time I look in the mirror.
I started out an anorexic in middle school, skipping lunches and eventually weaning myself off dinner as well, before graduating to bulimia after high school ended. Why? Well, there are two reasons: The first of which is control. It was a very rough time in my life and I was doing every self-destructive thing possibility outside of drug use and promiscuous sex (In fact, I was fairly chaste up until the past few years) and I was already barely eating a stitch, so why not? I remember the first time I purged. I'd eaten spaghetti. And I got in a fight with my mom. Angrily, I locked myself in the bathroom and slid two fingers down the throat. It didn't take much. In fact, I was alarmed at how easy it was.
That started a slippery slope that lead me to, at my worst, weigh just over 80 pounds and not have the energy to get out of bed. At my best, I could function. I could go out with friends, I could muster up energy for late night coffee excursions and I could laugh and I could smile and I could pretend nothing was wrong.
The second reason behind my descent into bulimia was body dysmorphia. Sure, I'm a pretty girl now but if I was in high school and college, I didn't see it. Crippling shyness kept me from associating with people much and the physical Amber that existed in my head was not the physical Amber that existed in tangible reality. Of course, I didn't know that. And no one knew what I thought of myself, what I was doing, so how could any one help?
If you'd have asked me two weeks ago, I would have told you I was recovered but the truth is that I might never recover. Relapse is always inevitable and I always feel split in two - The half of me that doesn't care how much she weighs so long as she's happy, the half that wants to smile and live life with fervor and do all the things that, on a normal day, I do. But the other half is harder. Happiness be damned. She wants to starve.
Reconciling those two halves is harder than one could ever imagine and I hate myself for what I've done, for starting a bratty battle of wills more than ten years ago that has worn the enamel off my teeth, that has thinned my hair, that has irreprably damaged my body so badly that I'll probably never be able to carry a fetus to term. I've done awful things, to others, to myself. I've barraded myself away from everyone I love, I've shut out friends, I've ruined relationships, I've starved myself, I've purged until there was nothing but bile in my body and then I've eaten molded food just to make myself puke more. What I've done has left scars on my knuckles and has given my mouth a bacteria count so high that I have to brush my teeth four to five times days. It's left my self esteem in the proverbial gutter to this day.
I'll never feel as beautiful as I am. I'll never be able to look at a picture of myself and see how gorguous my eyes are, how pretty my smile is, how long my legs are. Instead, I'll only see the fat on my arms, my abhorable thighs, and the gut that in reality is non-existent but in my mind is ever prevelant.
For the longest time, I thought no one could understand. Then, in 2002, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists released Shake the Sheets.
If I could thank any one person for what they've done for me, it would be Ted Leo. "Me and Mia" might be the one song that has affected my life the most. Each lyric seems tailor fit to my situation - I've done everything Leo describes in the song: "Cigarettes and speed for livin', sleeping pills to feel forgiven."
When Leo sings "If you believe in something beautiful, then get up and be it", I want to. I want to fight with all my will against myself and I want to leave behind the crutches I've held on to for so long. I want to be healthy. I want to be happy. And I know that if I relapse again, there's probably no coming back.
Simply put, I don't want to die.
I'm not saying it's hopeless. In fact, I'm full of hope. One day, I'll be healthy. One day, I'll be able to say I'm recovered and mean it. One day, I'll be able to count on one hand how many times I've purged in the past year.
But until then, I am trying. And that's all I can do.