I grabbed the sack of chicken nuggets and headed for my closet. My shoe rack was just the right height for a seat when I swept the top row of shoes off it and onto the floor. I could lean back against the wall and be comfortable. I kept an old comforter in there all the time, for the comfort it provided, as its name may have given away. I didn’t bring anything to drink, but I never did. I didn’t need to, because this wasn’t going to be that type of binge. This was just going to be me sitting in my closet, reading a book, wrapped in a comforter, eating enough chicken nuggets for six people.
No big deal.
I kept forgetting that I lived alone; I tried to muffle the sound of the paper bag rattling as I pulled out the first box of nuggets. After a lifetime of never being alone, it was hard to break old habits.
I tapped the light stuck to the wall, and it came on, illuminating just the right area for me to read peacefully. I leaned back, cracked the book, settled the nuggets on my knee, and took a deep breath. I smelled leather and fried food and the pages of my book, all the most comforting smells in the world. It was almost enough to put a smile on my face.
But I didn’t need to feel happy; I felt safe, and that’s what really matters the most. Safety. I leaned my head to the side until it reached the adjoining wall, and with that support, I flipped pages and stuffed my face for the next hour.
I don’t remember when I started to binge eat. I really don’t. It’s there, somewhere, as far back as I remember eating. I don’t really remember that far back, though. I mean, I don’t remember much with any consistency until I was around eleven or so. Sure, there’s bits and pieces from when I was two or three and up, but that’s all it is, is bits and pieces. I can’t string days together, or weeks. I can barely string an hour together—I think the only time I can do that is when I remember watching a movie, something that lasted over an hour with a coherent story. It’s just weird to think about the people who can remember so much of their own lives. I can’t wrap my head around that, at all. And then those who can remember everything? That’s way too much for my brain to handle. I don’t think I can tell you what I had for breakfast a week ago, and that’s remembering food.
If I can remember anything, it’s food. Eating food, and cooking food, and serving food. So much food in my life. And I remember so much about it. The taste, the smell, the texture, the sound in my ears as I chewed it in my mouth.
When the chicken nuggets were gone, I didn’t hate myself enough yet. I closed the book and set it down on the floor in the closet and closed my eyes just for a minute. I didn’t know yet whether or not I was going to cry. The first minute passed, and then another, and eventually I knew that I was not going to cry. This time. I got up and went to the kitchen.
It’s hard to eat ice cream out of the container while sitting in a closet wrapped in a comforter and reading a book, but I’ve worked out a system for it. I finished the half gallon, and it wasn’t enough . I knew it wouldn’t be from the first bite, because I focused on the act of eating instead of even pretending to myself that I was reading.
I dropped the spoon into the empty bucket, and the tears began to fall.