For years, I've prided myself on my ability to be emotionally opaque. Life can be crumbling, but I can paste on a smile and engage in cheerful conversation with a friend over coffee as if life is nothing but bubbles and sunshine.
Never have I leaned as heavily on that skill as I did this summer, shortly after getting engaged. While there was a smile on my face in public, I was an unhappy, unhealthy girl. I should have been joyous, but I spent countless hours in bed, with covers pulled over my head. When I wasn't in bed, I was exercising and counting calories, which I'd strictly limited to less than 700 a day. I was just getting bridal ready, I told myself. It was just for a month or two.
But in my heart, I knew it wasn't that simple.
Every day felt like a lifetime or more. The sun rose on a girl who thought that perhaps this was the day she could chase her demons away, but that sun always went down on an exhausted girl who was so tired of battling her own mind. I was endlessly aware of every flaw, every way in which the girl I saw in the mirror wasn't the girls in the magazines: my hair was too frizzy, my nose was too large, I was too short, my waist was too wide, my hips too full...my thighs touched. The girl I saw was so flawed, so ugly and so unlovable. There were days in which I don't remember looking in the mirror, because the battle that ensued would be too draining. Sometimes after catching a glimpse in the mirror, I would admit defeat, cancel my plans and lay in bed, crying. There I'd swear I wouldn't eat for as long as possible. Until there was a decisive sliver of light between my thighs. Until I suddenly could love and accept myself...something I was sure would happen within a few pounds.
Of course that wasn't true. When you're dealing with an eating disorder and a severe body image disconnect, nothing changes within a few pounds. You're not happier. Your habits are just more deeply ingrained, and you're still too exhausted to fight the sickness in your mind.
Those days and weeks were dark, friends. I didn't want to die, although I thought about what it might feel like. But no, that wasn't it, I finally told myself. I just wanted to disappear. To crumble into a thousand pieces...to become dust and blow far away, to a place where I didn't exist physically. To a place where my mind could rest and there was peace.
The very thought of putting myself on display in a wedding dress, even to try on a few samples, left me breathless. My stomach rolled and my throat tightened. My palms began to sweat, and I could feel tears well up in the corner of my eyes. Brides are supposed to be flawless. They're supposed to beautiful. They glow. I was none of those things. And standing in a wedding dress would only emphasize it.
One night, during a Skype date with Gabe, I began sobbing:
"I just don't want anyone to see me--I don't want anyone to look at me. I want to marry you, but please don't make me have a wedding...please can we just elope?"
Gabe was heartbroken over this girl he loved, who he found so beautiful, so flawless. He wanted to fix her. To hold her. To at least ease the pain. But he was 6,000 miles away and so very helpless...all he could do was watch her crumble.
So, we decided we would elope over the holidays. I bought a white ruffled dress. We read up on the elopement process and checked the available dates + times. I learned how to make my own bouquet, and we told our best friends to meet us at the San Francisco City Hall on December 28th.
That wasn't exactly how things ended...as I was married on December 31st, surrounded by family and a few friends. And certainly not in the $60 dollar elopement dress.
But that is how things started. :)