Can you tell I’m faking it?
Photographs have of a way of telling half a story. Just a tiny glimpse of what we want the world to see through perfectly strategic settings and beautifully flattering filters. Telling everyone what you want them to believe. It’s amazing to see life through other peoples perceptions of you. Yet you can’t help but wonder how many people really see the real you. How many people can tell the façade from the reality. A picture is worth a thousand words but how many of those words are the real thing?
Not at my best time but don’t I look great. 2007 / 2008.
The past couple of months and in doing this blog, I have found myself faced with reality on numerous occasions. The countless lies I’ve told, the stories, and even going through the photographs of my past. What makes a photograph from when I was 23, different from the photograph of myself at 31? My reality and what I wanted you to believe. I controlled the story I wanted to tell. I orchestrated the image of myself I wanted you to see. I did it. Because telling the lie was easier than telling the truth about my problems. Nobody asks any questions when you put your life out there for the world to see. It’s only what you don’t put forth in the world that gets people asking the questions. It’s easy to pretend to be someone else in a photograph. Someone better than who you really are. Finding the perfect angles, cropping your best features, and believing that you’re going to be okay. I believed that for years. This perfect image I put forth in the world was who I really was. I wasn’t okay.
Make-up’s all off. Who am I?
For six years I suffered with an eating disorder to the point of obsession. You don’t realize how much of a problem you have until it consumes you and controls every part of your life. I hid that from everyone. 6 years of photographs standing by countless people who didn’t have a clue about my life. Who didn’t know that every countless excuse I made to go home early was so I could throw up my food in the dark confides of my home. Counting the consumption of calories and calculating what I could throw up later in the time I had left. It became a sick twisted sport and I was fucking good at it. My gums bled and my teeth hurt and I didn’t care because an acceptance to be perfect was better than being ignored. I believed it. I became obsessed with my abilities to hide my problem that it over powered my past problems. This became bigger than my depression, bigger than my cutting, it was a problem I could hide through the photographs. Nobody knew.
You want to believe that you have control of your problem. I wanted to believe that. For the days I threw up my food, I counted the days I didn’t. When my weight wasn’t matching up or the healthy alternative ways weren’t working, I went back to vomiting. I turned this problem on, I could very easily turn it off. For every bad day I had, I just binge ate then hid in the bathroom. I blamed food poisoning, cramps, the flu, everything except the problem at hand. I refused to believe I had a problem. I could control this problem, I could stop everything as soon as I was ready. I believed it. It started because of this need for acceptance, this belief that every photograph was closer to my true self. I knew it was wrong, I knew of the consequences and still I believed I could control this. The reality of it was I couldn’t control my problem. Every time I hid this problem the worse it got.
I believed I was okay. In some twisted fucked up way I had everything under control. I would go months without vomiting and then something would trigger it to happen again. I grew this fear of food, this obsession that everything I ate was a consequence for my mistakes. The love I once had for food became this hatred toward it. It was so easy to pretend this wasn’t a problem. I just couldn’t stop. Then comes a point in your life where you can’t do it anymore. Where the pure exhaustion of life just has you at your wits end. I reached my breaking point and after six years of hurting myself physically and emotionally, I couldn’t do it. It was bigger than anything I could ever imagine. I wish I could say that everything disappeared and I healed myself but every day is a struggle. I had to learn to love imperfections within myself. Watching my body change isn’t easy and as much as I want to resort to old ways, I couldn’t. It became my quest to get better. Another struggle that I told nobody about. While people poked fun at my weight gain, for the first time I didn’t cry. I started writing down everything I ate and with the miracle wonders of social media I started documenting every meal I ate. For every picture I took of my food, it was my silent trophy that I ate that and was okay with it.
There’s always going to be a part of me that’s broken. A part of me that’s messy with imperfections but I have to be okay to live with that. I am always going to be my hardest critic but at the end of the day I have to be okay with not being perfect. No one’s perfect. It’s been two years since I have vomited my food. Two years since I let this sickness consume my life. I wish I could say that it has been an easy recovery, but it hasn’t been. Some days are easier and some days are harder. I am better than all this bullshit and you know what? I am doing the best I can.
My true essence. Photo Credit: Jazelle Prado.