the downward spiral was already in motion before the chocolate banana crepe. after the chocolate banana crepe, shame accelerated the descent into despair that devolved into suicidal ideations in another two days’ time. i bought tickets to barcelona to escape thanksgiving, to forget. he forgot. i did not. my body knows thanksgiving no matter how far i travel to another country where no turkey-eating football-frenzy whitewashing-history holiday is known, named, or celebrated on the fourth thursday of november. we had been fighting that night. not actual fighting. the poor communication version of fighting without yelling or cursing or meanness but plenty of frustration, hurt, and fear. we shut down a little or a lot. he kept drinking and kept talking. i stopped drinking and stopped talking.
we left the bar and agreed to end the frustrating conversation that had sunk the previous hour. he wanted another glass of wine. i wanted quiet. our limitations intersected prior to the chocolate banana crepe. the chocolate banana crepe exceeded my limitations. he asked for the crepe. i didn’t want it. i didn’t tell him no, didn’t tell him i couldn’t, didn’t tell him that a chocolate banana crepe isn’t something i can sit with on a thursday that is thanksgiving at home, didn’t tell him that if we ordered a chocolate banana crepe that i wouldn’t be able to resist eating it and if i ate the crepe i would hate myself, i would hate my inability to stop eating what i don’t want, hate myself for wanting to purge in the most disgusting way. i didn’t tell him that the shame of puking in the restaurant’s restroom would build into a self-hate that makes me want to die, didn’t tell him that every thanksgiving meal since i was 12 years old ended in self-induced vomiting and suicidal self-hate and the reason i hate thanksgiving is that i hate the shame attached to my eating disorder and that i’d rather die than feel that shame and self-hate. i didn’t tell him any of that. i didn’t want to deny him something he wanted because i can’t safely participate. i didn’t want to admit that i am twelve steps of powerless over a chocolate banana crepe because i’m ashamed that it’s true.
he knows i’m eating disordered. everybody knows. when i’m not in a shame spiral about food, i openly discuss my eating disorder in an attempt to explain that eating disorders are complicated addictions. he understands that eating is a source of suffering for me. he is usually sensitive and supportive of my limitations as an addict…except when he’s engaging in a substance that might one day become his addiction.
fast forward two nights. i pick a fight. a real fight. an ending-the-relationship-level fight. he’s confused. he thought we were having a great night. and we were. until we went to a restaurant instead of the beach. until i ate food i didn’t want because the food was on the table in front of me and i couldn’t leave it. i wanted to drown myself in the mediterranean. i knew i wouldn’t drown, i wouldn’t kill myself, but i needed to stand at the cold water’s edge with the choice of living or dying. i needed to choose wanting to live over wanting to die and i needed the sea to give me the choice. i couldn’t tell him that. i didn’t tell him that. at least not until we fought for two hours, a fight he didn’t understand because i wasn’t telling him the truth about my eating disordered shame and self-hate and suicidal desires. after exhausting us by my fighting against him, against life, and against love, we walked to the beach in the middle of the night. i stood at the edge of the water and breathed each breath weighing the choice of living and dying. i kept breathing. with each breath i chose life.
a week later, home again, breath after breath, i choose life.