You didn’t know how much of a heavy influence you had. Maybe you did know and it didn’t matter as much as it should have. Maybe the money and the reputation slowly choked out the need to understand. Maintaining the outside product became overwhelmingly more important than the inside of a person painfully neglected. And painful is how I would describe my years with you. Like any mentor or authority figure, you held all the cards. We accepted everything you said as truth. We moved when you said move. We stopped when you clapped to stop. We held our breath when you walked through the hallway. We broke ourselves in ways that no one should have. The odd part about it all is that we didn’t fully know why we did it. We knew we had a dream and an idea of a life you could grant us, but beyond that sliver of a hope, we followed blindly. I was fourteen years old when I was first told I needed to visit the nutritionist. I was called into a meeting with you sitting to my right as you talked about the path I was headed as my body matured. You told me it was in my best interest. You told me that I would get ahead if I could somehow be aware of the changes that were quickly approaching. Alluding that I needed to stop them as if I had some control over growing up. I nodded politely and left without saying anything other than the word “yes”. From that moment on I have never been the same. Something was ingrained into me that day that is slowly being undone even to this day. It is a stain. Tired of the disappointed looks or you ignoring me, I decided to take things even further than my strict diet and exercise routine. I was already weighed weekly, asked to write down everything I ate, and the mood I was when I ate it. I decided I would try to just not eat.
Today I can’t fully grasp where my head must have been to decide something so drastic and unlivable. I don’t even think I put much thought into it. It was almost as if this was an obvious or logical next step to take. After a long week of nothing but water, green tea, and the occasional grape when I felt I might drop to the ground, I walked my twenty blocks to class already out of breath and hardly able to focus on what you were telling me to do. You called me up to the front of the class and whispered to me that I looked great and that you could see bones in my chest that looked beautiful. I smiled as I felt my face get hot and my throat suddenly start to burn. I quickly walked to the back of the room and stood behind a few girls as tears rolled down my cheeks. You never saw and I was happy you didn’t. It would have been another area that was weak and needed to be strengthened.