Starving Artist

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on

I don’t talk about it often. Now, almost nobody knows. When I was at my thinnest, people talked. I listened and found satisfaction that I was winning. After all, I fought pretty hard to be ‘noticed’ as thin. I could write a book about eating disorders. I could hypothesize where and when my eating became disordered, when I fell in love with the feeling of being empty. For years, I told myself that it started when I got sick my freshmen year of college and was ‘scared to eat,’ because I had physical pain. That fear caused me to lose weight and I fell in love with ‘being thin.’ I believed that for a long time. I now know that it started much earlier. It started as a young child when teachers and adults around me began to comment on what my body could and could not do. I learned from them that we are measured by our body’s ability to perform. I was meeting with a suicidal teenage boy once and he looked up at me, his eyes full of tears and said, ‘You know… boys who aren’t good at sports in school are nothing.’ I did know. It was brutally honest and stated so clearly. It’s something that all of us who are or once were ‘boys,’ know all too well. The emotion I never shared about how ‘worthless,’ I felt when I couldn’t be an athlete, I soothed by eating. I had no idea at the time I was doing this, but I was. Eventually, that changed. Somewhere food and exercise became something I could control during periods where I felt like my emotions were out of control. I am great and restricting emotion, and I became great at restricting food. I never thought at twenty that twenty one years later, I would still be fighting this monster. I fight it constantly. It exhausts me. I used to dream of helping others with eating disorders. It was one of the reasons I was drawn to becoming a therapist. I am that therapist now. I have a whole practice of individuals who see me for eating disorders. What they don’t know is my wisdom, my skill in treating them comes from years of being in the battle. Eating disorders never go away. They might fade for a bit, but the second I feel ‘out of control,’ that awful, painful voice in my head is back, and I’m back in battle. I literally could write all day about the impacts of eating disorders, my theories on them, etc. I’m not going to. I hate my eating disorder. I hate giving it attention. Unfortunately, I know ignoring it does not make it go away. I have written many poems about eating disorders. I don’t share them much. I’ve been in the battle again for a while. I decided today I was going to share a poem I wrote years ago. I wasn’t going to write anything about it. As I was getting ready to post it, I remembered this summer when I was moving, a friend came across this short poem that I saved that was written maybe when I was sixteen. She read it and was moved by it. I laughed because, like many things I wrote then, it was not something I felt was ‘good,’ and it was probably too confessional. When I decided to post the poem I was going to today, I remembered her reaction and dug it out. I still hate it, but I decided to post it. There’s something honest in it. I had no idea what an eating disorder was when I wrote it. Even though I had no idea what an eating disorder was, the self-hate was there. The roots of the disorder are clear in it. I’m going to post them both. It’s a step toward honesty, toward not restricting, toward continuing to fight this monster I’ve been fighting years before I even knew it existed. Thanks for listening…


If my legs, were long, lean, muscular..
If my stomach was a washboard…
If my arms could lift all world’s weight,
I still would not be able to lift the burden
of self-hate parasiting inside me.
I say ‘if…’ a lot, but even if
I was twenty pounds lighter,
a prize fighter, a long distance runner,
I could still not out run
the sprints of hate I have for myself,
that run circles around
any dreams of gold for myself.

Photo by Drigo Diniz on

Starving Artist

I’m starving for art, saving up
to eat Vang Gogh’s ear, Sylvia’s hourglass,
and Frida’s love affair. I rub
my bones
to sculpt
a heroin body
to hang my
faded Levis on.

Squeeze the fat
until I bruise,
added color
to my masochistic song.
I’m hungry,
but I don’t dare eat.
Art is beauty
and bone is masterpiece.

I’m smoking cause it suppresses
“the appetite”
clawing within.
I inhale cancer,
exhale skin.
When I begin
to vanish, I’ll know
I’m on my way in.
Sexy, I’ll feel
in the unsexiest scenes.

every day
in my little bone parade.
Art that will catapult me
into galleries and magazines.
Just try
to find me somewhere
among my genius,
in my emaciated
life created.

I’ll be the spot
on the canvas,
the wrong key
hit on the piano,
the sexy, sad
artist consumed.
One more
starving artist
saving room
for the misery
of desert.

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