THUD! my feet hit the ground after a perfect beam de-mount. I thrust my arms into the air in a perfect arch as the applause echoes off the hollow walls. but as the scores come up I cry into my coach's shoulder. I only scored a 9.2.
i have been consumed with a need to be perfect since before I can remember. I always had this desire to match up to be the best. When I was in fourth grade my seventh grade brother made high school varsity happened. The newspapers started interviewing him and I found myself lost in his shadow. My older sister, a junior when I was a fourth grader, was already a varsity hockey player, a varsity gymnast, a standout varsity distance runner and a cheerleader. I felt lost in a world that I was not good enough for. I need my parents to love me and pay attention to me so desperately that I took it to the extreme.
I dieted, but didn't stop eating until I was in eighth grade. I simply wouldn't eat breakfast and wouldn't go to lunch. I had to be at gym at 5:30 a.m. so skipping breakfast wasn't a problem. I would throw something in my bag and tell my mom that I would eat it on my way to school. My friends were either ignorant or scared when I skipped lunch, but it was only mentioned once or twice.
My brother, who I had grown very close to despite my jealousy, noticed when my weight dropped. He sometimes picked me up for lunch, that meant he skipped fourth period, just to make sure I ate. I never did.
Near the end of eighth grade I was 5'2" and 84 pounds. I was still heavier than some of the girls at gym. So I wasn't perfect.
I decided to run. My dad was a marathoner and my older sister, Kristine, had already won a state cross country championship and a 1600 meter state track championship. I had the genes and the talent. I joined high school track half way through the season and ended up on the state record setting 4 by 800m relay team.
I entered high school balancing schoolwork (all perfect grades- of course), gym., cross country and student council.
I wish that after that horrible, dropped-to-74-pounds year I realized that I had to stop. No such luck. Anorexia had drugged me. It skewed my vision of myself and the world around me. I was addicted. I could not and would not stop.
My coach noticed. My parents knew but tried to deny. My brother was scared. He was trying to balance a lot too and he wasn't starving himself. His begging for me to eat became a daily routine. He would stand by my locker, with his teammates yelling down the hall for him, and beg me to eat. I never would.
When I hit 68, my lowest weight ever, in the beginning of sophomore year I was sent to the university hospital. I went without protest but I definitely didn't want to go. I confided this to my best friend (Shelly- I love you) and she tried to support me and understand but she also knew that I desperately needed help. I have only seen my brother cry once. I was lying in my hospital bed bawling as they tried to stick the IV in my arm. I turned to look at my family and beg them to take me home. I opened my eyes and in between my stone-cold parents stood my brother, big man on campus, Brian "slap shot" Oslund with tears streaming down his cheeks. I made a silent vow that I would get better. I did.
It took four hospitalizations and hundreds of therapy sessions but I got well. But looking back I think the only thing that kept me eating was Brian's late night phone calls from his dorm room at Drake University. I needed to get well for him.
I weigh 104 now. It might sound light but it fits my gymnast frame. I have lost the great desire to get well and sometimes I feel myself slipping, but for Brian, for my sanity, for my cross country and gymnastics scholarships I will stay this way.