In university, I learned that I liked eggs (at least I learned something). Every weekend, my haggard friends and I would hit up a cheap diner after one of our nights out. We would discuss who had slept with who, who got the drunkest, and how sweaty our one friend got when he danced (he knows who he is). But mostly, we’d devour our eggs and bacon and hash browns and as hungover as I usually was, I probably would have poured grease into my mouth if it was socially acceptable.
As we grew out of our three days a week drinking binges, I grew to fear breakfast. No longer was it the social activity of the past, it now seemed complicated. At first, I drank a protein shake (because that’s what fit people ate), then a granola bar and then nothing at all (because that’s what skinny people ate). I would smirk as my roommates buttered their toast or blended their smoothies. My friend said she always woke up starving and I smugly replied that I didn’t wake up hungry at all (I was murdering my metabolism).
Throughout my eating disorder, my mission was always to get through as much of the day before eating as possible. I think this is a common eating disordered or even dieter symptom. Abstaining keeps your possibilities (to starve) open. Don’t beat yourself up, you haven’t failed yet. It’s all about control or productivity, mastering the day, and staying on top of things. But as the day goes on, these abstract concepts get replaced with tangible hunger. Often binges are late night occurrences. Your guard is down, you can relax.
I remember the ease of skipping breakfast in high school. The 8am start time made any activity apart from primping myself superfluous. I chugged coffee and red bull as both held an edgy allure in my pubescent mind. I then started skipping lunch. I had packed trail mix every day for a year until a girl I sat with admitted she had a nut allergy. I was so embarrassed of my indiscretion I stopped bringing lunches altogether. I got away with an iced coffee as I giggled with my friends in the backseat of someone’s car. I never ate before the final bell. I got giddy off of not eating as my classmates scarfed down cafeteria pizza and doughnuts.
Those first university years were a vacation from my breakfast hiatus, but soon I found myself sitting in a breakfast diner ordering watermelon while my roommates ordered eggs benedict. I shook from the cocktail of hunger and coffee and artificial sweetener. I covered my nibbled at fruit with a napkin. I felt sick, I hadn’t eaten in the morning for months. My roommates looked anywhere but at my plate. This is one of the reasons the eating disordered don’t go out for meals much. It’s harder to avoid how bizarre your eating has become.
When I started to recover, I ate sporadic breakfasts. I sat through classes watching the minute hand tick by as I thought of the granola bar I could have once the class was over. I progressed to a protein bar and marveled at my audacity. I skipped class and ate peanut butter with a spoon. I got busy and put on dizziness like a cozy sweater. I slept in and smiled when I only ate dinner. But I eat the rubbery scrambled eggs my boyfriend scrapes off the pan and I meet my friends for brunch and sometimes it feels okay. It’s those okays I need to keep adding up.