By Damonia Newton
From the Mass Communication Department’s 2016 Photojournalism Exhibit
She looked at me as if I were a sick patient in a mental facility, as though she knew I would die at any given moment. The funny part about it is the I look like your average 17-year-old with curly dark-brown hair and caramel brown skin. I didn’t see much of a difference between me and the other girls my age, but it was evident that Mrs. Fields did.
Mrs. Fields is my therapist and ever since my parents got a divorce about six month ago, I’ve been here with her every Thursday as she listens to me blabber on and on about my past and present and thoughts. I figure, if I’m going to be forced to come here each week I might as well use the sessions to get out some of my feelings. It isn’t often that I will decided to tell someone how I feel because they always seem to misinterpret what I mean and I read the judgment all over their faces. She says because my parents are no longer together, it is that I blame myself for their split and in turn, harm my body to make all of the pain go away--blah.
I hate when people think they know me and what I’m thinking or feeling, as though they are with me inside of my head listening to my every thought. If that was the case, they would be in for a rude awakening because all of my thoughts weren’t the nicest, especially at moments like this. Behind my nearly perfect smile and big brown eyes were thoughts running around about all types of things. They didn’t stay for long but it was all dependent upon how I felt at the current moment and right now I was annoyed. There’s this invisible bubble I have around me and no one is allowed to even put a fingertip inside unless I allow them to. Mrs. Fields always attempted to step inside of it—without permission—so I found it important to let her knew her place, in a discrete way of course.
Therapists only want to get into their patient’s business because they have trouble dealing with their own problems at home. I bet her husband cheats on her and her children probably hate when she tries to talk diagnose their problems too. I can just hear her fake soft voice that she uses to calm people down, and make it seem like she’s on their side. But in turn she ends up saying something that makes you want to slap her because she says it so nicely even though it’s actually rude.
So I’ve come to an agreement with myself that since her life sucks so she wants to try and fix mine instead I might as well use the session to get to share my thoughts with someone. Up until six months ago I only expressed my feelings to my journal and myself. I don’t want people judging me for what I think or what I’ve been through. I can read faces and once people learn about my bulimia, they seem to turn up their noses and look down on me and my situation. It’s honestly not even that serious; however, people are dramatic and love to feel superior.
Once I had a best friend, Lauren. We went everywhere together and did everything together as well. She had my ideal body type; with her tall, slender body, chocolate brown skin with the frame of her jet black hair sweeping the small of her back and the flattest belly. Whenever we would change clothes in the same room I would hardly be able to peel my eyes from her perfection. I yearned for every bit of her. Not in a sexual way but I wanted to be just like her. I guess you could say I deeply envied it all.
With her I was free to pour out my feelings and thoughts, free of judgment, and she would do the same with me. We attended Chapman High School together and we were best friends. When Lauren and I walked into the halls everyone would look at us with envy pouring out of their eyes as she and I just walked to our homeroom class with smiles plastered on our faces. Little did they know, I really just wanted to be like her while they all wanted to be like us. It’s funny to me how people can assume so much about others based on what they see but no one truly ever knows unless they take time to speak to someone. They looked at me with so much envy but I had so much going on in my life that even I didn’t want to be me. But on one needed to know that, so I let them think what they so desired.
Lauren and I had become friends when we first met in homeroom our freshman year at Chapman. We were both carrying the latest Michael Kors bag, except mine was in nude and hers was black. Ever since that simple encounter we were inseparable. We never got tired of each other. But what’s that cliché phrase? “Never say never”? Yea, I guess I should have expected her to stay around for long although she promised she would never leave my side. People lie every day; I’m not sure why I thought she would be any different from the rest. Pretty soon her facade faded and her true colors became apparent to me.
A few weeks ago I invited her to my mother’s house to hang out and watch movies like we always did on weekends. She was the only person who was truly there for me when my parents split up. She understood how I felt because she essentially grew up with me throughout high school and knew what type of relationship I shared with them. My mom was barely home, still trying to maintain her perfect image that all of the neighbors and her coworkers seemed to see. She had to be number one mom to the public.
My mother wore a short haircut that revealed her high cheekbones. The thick black curls swirled atop her head and never seemed to be in disarray. The natural contours of her face made her look like a model and to top it off she was always up to date on the latest fashion--and made sure dad and I were too. She wore black every day. Everything about her seemed to be perfect. Whenever we went out, strangers would ask if we were sisters; she would do a decent job of hiding her giddy smile as she replied wit
“Oh, no!” she twirled her coiled hair around her finger as she giggled. “I’m 44, she’s my daughter.”
She had this special way of flirting without seeming to do so, which would leave strangers confused but intrigued. Her beauty gleamed out of her pours but beneath it all she was nothing but a liar. And not just to others but to my dad and I too. Mom had us both under her wings, smothered by her charm. Nonetheless, I loved her--I mean, she was my mother.
Lauren and I sat on top of my bed as we munched on Thai food from the restaurant down the street. Thai food was our remedy to any problem we encountered. We would eat until our bellies poked out and would even grab a glass of wine from my father’s bar downstairs. Red wine was our favorite and Dad never seemed to notice anyway. Now that he wasn’t living with us anymore, Lauren and I were free to drink as much as we wanted to; mom was never home long enough to notice the missing wine or the fact that we were both tipsy. We’d dance around my spacious room to Rhianna Radio on Pandora, feeling happy and free. We’d dance around and I admired Lauren’s physique then looked down at my own which made me feel like a short and stubby little person.
After I ate I would always weigh myself see if I gained a lot of weight. Following that ritual I went to my private bathroom, turned on the faucet, and stuck my fingers down my throat until it all came back up and into the toilet where it belonged. Watching the colors from the food I ate swirl together down the toilet was perfect. I was able to eat whatever I desired and I didn’t have to gain any weight. It felt great to get it all out; it was the one thing I was able to control in my life.
They say “people lie, but number don’t” and when I looked at the scale each time and viewed any number lower than 116 in big red numbers, my heart would smile inside...and so would I. It would be even bettered if I were able to control my emotions and feelings the that way. They fill my brain and heart up so heavily that I can’t seem to do anything else but feel. If I could puke them up, just as I did my food, I would finally be in control of everything and free to feel happy again. Like when I was younger and my family was actually a family.
When I stepped out of the bathroom, feeling much lighter and more pleasant, I walked into a quiet room. Lauren apparently clicked paused on the Pandora because the music was no longer playing and she’d also muted the television. She must have been listening to me the entire time. Her face looked disgusted and she looked at me just like Mrs. Fields is looking at me right now. I didn’t say a thing, in case I was jumping the gun and she actually didn’t hear me vomiting up our favorite food.
Lauren shot up from my bed and began shoving her feet into her chestnut UGGS.
“Wait,” I gripped her arm, stopping her from putting on her boots, “where are you going, Lo?” I gave her that nickname when we first met and she called me Bre instead of Aubrey unless she was upset with me.
“I’m going home. I refuse to sit here and listen to you throwing up in your bathroom as if I couldn’t hear you from in here.” She pulled her arm back and managed to get her other boot on as she headed for the door. “I see why your mom doesn’t want to stay at home with you. Aubrey, you’re sick!” she yelled as she slammed my door and exited my house.
First of all, I had no idea why she would be so upset as if I’d done something wrong to her. It had absolutely nothing to do with her. I mean, not really.
Mrs. Fields insists that I should’ve run after her--well, she implies it. But why would I run after her to explain myself when I didn’t do anything wrong? If anything, she was the one who was in the wrong and the way she so quickly exited my life tells me enough about the type of person she is. To think I held in so many of her secrets and stuck by her side. Why couldn’t Lauren stick with me throughout my hard time, especially with her knowledge of what I was going through? I saw no need to explain myself to someone who didn’t care to know. She was out of my life and I was now out of hers. That was that. From that moment on, I realized that everyone will leave your life so I must focus on myself I want to be happy. That didn’t seem to be working out for me though.
I haven’t been alone in a long time. I’ve always had Lauren. I never had my mom because she would rather stay out convincing the public that she was the best mother and wife ever. But this divorce surely threw her for a loop. Although I wanted my parents to stay together, I was glad my dad made the right choice in leaving.
Nothing lasts forever and I was now truly aware of that fact. It made accepting things come easily to me because I never expect anyone or anything to stay. The only thing I knew I had full control over was my weight and I would continue controlling it because I vowed to never let it control me.
So here I am, staring back at Mrs. Fields as she tries to mentally pull me out of my pile of troubles. I’m not sure it’ll work. But here I am.