I found my sister laying in the grass. Tucked into the fetal position. She stood out, starkly translucent against a dark green spread. She looked so small. Like a pale yellow butterfly fallen from the sky, crumpled up like a napkin. too tired to fly.
Sharp inhale. For a true half of a second, I thought she was dead.
My little sister has two eating disorders. She has two diseases ripping her apart from the inside. Two diseases that make her body want to cease to exist. Her very being is squished by this need to be smaller, less, thin, invisible.
I remember the first time I heard her throwing up in our shared bathroom. I ran to tell my mom and I can remember the look in her eyes. confusion and recognition at the same time. You know but you don’t want to. You hope and you pray and you tell yourself it can’t be your fault. That’s what this disease does. It infects from the inside, poisoning the outside. Out towards my mom and dad and me. Covering us with its crushing weight while we grapple with the fact that monsters might be real even if we can’t see them.
A disease that walks like my sister and talks like my sister but it’s not her.
I used to be so angry. Just eat. Just eat food. it’s easy. I do it all the time. Just please eat. Why don’t you eat? Don’t you know how much mom cries? Stop being selfish. Don’t be vain. Just eat. You’re not just hurting yourself anymore. This is crazy. Please just eat.
But for her every meal is a battle. Three times a day. And then countless moments in between. A demon I can’t see, I just hear breathe in the silence.
I would catch her doing sit ups in a corner, hoping my parents wouldn’t see. Going up and down the stairs. Up and down up and down. Imaginary calories that I couldn’t see weighing thousands onto her thin shoulders. Watching cooking shows on repeat, a sick obsession with the enemy. The look that came with dinner. Served with silence so heavy you could almost hear her internal voices arguing, screaming, reaching a fever point.
All of the jokes people make. I WISH I had an eating disorder they’ll say. Joking, always joking through their third slice of pizza. I wish I could tell them it’s not funny.
I wish I could tell them about all the full meals I’ve had to eat even if I’d just eaten before because my mom lives in fear that one day I will just stop too. All the little jokes I made growing up, how much I prayed I could take it all back. All of the plates of her with food just moved around. Displaced, never gone. Visiting in the white sterile hospital where she was not allowed out of bed because they feared her heart would stop.
About my sister, the fragile, perfect butterfly on the ground.