I wanted time to speed up. Everything seemed like it was moving slower than a tortoise going for an afternoon stroll. I wanted everything to end. It seemed like those 4 years would drag on and would take up my whole life. I always thought that those 4 years would be filled with tears of stress and sadness. I really believed they were going to be the worst 4 years of my life.
But, now, I’m sitting in my last class of high school and all I’m asking for is five more minutes. Everything flashed by in the blink of an eye. I want to relive so many things. Those 4 years went by too fast and seemed like they were one of the smallest parts of my life. The years were filled with tears of stress and sadness, but they were also filled with happiness and love. So far they have been the best 4 years of my life; I made so many friends, had so many new experiences, and really learned who I was. I just want to live in it for five more minutes.
My dad always seemed to find a way to stay strong. During hard times, he remains tough and tells me it’s going to be okay. The day he found out he had a blocked artery and needed heart surgery, the day my grandfather died, the day my mom got hurt and had to go to the hospital, and the day his favorite pet died, he never cried. It’s not that it wasn’t hard for him, it all was. The reason he didn’t cry was because he always wanted me to know that it was okay, that it was all going to be okay. He stays strong because he hopes that no matter how bad the situation, we will find a way out of it. My dad doesn’t cry because he wants me to think that everything is going to be okay.
The outline of all my ribs were visible, even through the tank top I wore. My hip bones stuck out and created a visible lines in the XS leggings I wore which were still too big. You could see my spine through my shirt and my tail bones were visible too. There were bruises on my back from laying down, my bones would cause purple and blue marks to form on the skin covering them. My jaw had become sharp and it looked as if my cheeks went inward. My collarbones practically popped out of my skin and my sternum was defined and visible. If I lifted up my shirt, my deteriorating heart beating slowly through my chest was easily seen.
About a month before the day listed above was the day when I had officially been diagnosed. We had known something was up for a while. The cutting out of food groups; skipping meals; weighing myself at least twice a day; crying before, during, and after eating; the fact that all my clothes now fit loosely; my low energy level; and much more made my parents suspect something wasn’t right. But, today, a professional had given the thing controlling their daughter an official name: anorexia nervosa . That same day, the result from my EKG came in, my heart rate was dangerously low and we were called in the doctor’s office immediately. As soon as I walked in, she put a device on my finger that revealed my heart rate: 38 beats per minute. Due to all the weight I had lost, and the fact that I had been depriving myself of the calories I needed, my body started to break down the muscles in my vital organs in order to receive the energy needed to survive day-to-day life.
My heart was the main victim of this. The doctor told me that I needed to stop water polo and all exercise until my heart rate was normal. Water polo was what made me happy: it was my identity, my passion, my motivation to get better, and my dad knew this. I had never cried so hard in my life. After five minutes of me in tears, my mom broke down too, but my dad stayed strong and comforted the both of us. She then told my parents about the hospitalization programs she recommended for me. I cried on the drive home and for hours when we were home, I cried and cried and cried. As I lay alone in bed that night, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t sleep. My plan was to go to wake up my dad and ask him to be with me, I felt bad about waking him up, but I didn’t know what I would do without him right now. I knew if I woke up my mom, she would start to sob too. It was hard enough dealing with the pain I brought upon myself, I couldn’t manage to see the pain I inflicted on her. I wanted, no, I needed him to tell me that I was strong, tell me that I could get through this, tell me that everything was going to be okay. I walked into their room and used my phone for light, but to my surprise he wasn’t there. I walked back to the hallway and looked at the shut office door with light coming from underneath it. Maybe he wasn’t tired and decided to do some work. That thought made me feel better because then I wouldn’t be waking him up, but as soon as I opened the door, my heart already-failing heart felt like it had stopped working completely. There was my dad: eyes red, cheeks stained. He sat on the floor holding a tissue wet with tears. This was the first time in my thirteen years alive that I had seen my dad cry.
I don’t cry often, or at least not as much as people assume I do.
Before I turned nine, my tears had no depth. I would cry because I couldn’t get the Barbie I wanted, or because I wasn’t allowed to eat the chocolate bar I craved. It was like I was standing on the shore, only to get my chubby feet wet. They would be salty tears of defiance, and yet, they were noticed more. No one ignores a little, pig-tailed girl with puffy, wet eyes and a solemn face. People would rush to my side to be my hero and save me from my sadness.
In the summer before my fourth grade year, I truly cried for the first time. I was curled in bed and the breeze made the leaves on the tree in my backyard hit against the window with a soft thump. A mountain of blankets weighed down on my crackling shell of a body. My mom was angry at me, and I was convinced that she undeniably hated me. Even though that wasn’t the case, my cheeks seemed tattooed with the streaks left behind from my crying fit, and they stayed like that until the morning.
Only after that night, did I realize that I can only sincerely cry alone and wrapped in many blankets. It’s an odd revelation, but one that I will testify to for the rest of my life.
When I sat in the first row at my mother’s funeral, I was the most anxious I had ever felt in my entire life. I felt like her closest family and friends were watching me like beady-eyed hawks. My legs were neatly crossed and my black, lace dress itched in ten different places. I tried to focus on my aunts and uncles speaking about their beloved sister, but could only think about the choir show I was missing. My attention only perked up when my sister went to speak.
She stood with her right foot tilted ever so slightly inward. You couldn’t see it because of the podium in front of her, but throughout my entire life she had done it whenever she was nervous. She greeted everyone with a half-smile and red eyes, and you could tell that she was trying to make my mother proud. My grandma was holding onto my skinny wrist like it was a treasured jewel. I looked down at her black shoes and fixated on the curvature at the front. Then I heard my name. My sister had water welling up in her eyes and looked to me to turn the attention away from her. I wiggled out of my grandmother’s grasp and walked reluctantly to the stand.
“Um, I miss my mom. Not a day goes by where I don’t miss her and I loved- uh, I mean love her always and for-” my voice cracked.
All of a sudden, tears gushed out of my eyes as if someone turned on a hose. I ran away from the microphone and sunk into my seat, and wished I could evaporate. Those tears weren’t of evident sadness, but rather were a scapegoat to leave the gaze of all those gloomy visages. After that moment, I wasn’t sad but embarrassed. It is such a normal thing to cry at a funeral, especially the funeral of a parent, but it was one of the most fake and shallow outbursts of emotion I have ever experienced.
After that, I couldn’t cry for months. My body was no longer capable of that type of emotional release. Whenever I do cry, it is of exasperation. A way to rid myself of pent-up frustration.
Some say that teenage girls cry about everything. When we break a nail or have a split end, it is as if the world is falling apart. Even when the world is crumbling around me, I pretend that I’m standing in a field of daisies, a defense mechanism I’ve created for dealing with my emotions in public.
And with all that said, people still think I cry all the time. But I guess that’s just what a girl’s gotta do.