Dear Fifteen* (15),
(*I swear I’m working on names.)
This is my third attempt at writing this letter.
I know I’m not supposed to edit, but this isn’t really editing. It’s just scraping the entire thing (twice) because it feels inauthentic or defensive or whatever.
Your letter brought up a lot of stuff and I want to react to it.
I want to lecture you and belittle you right back.
But what will that accomplish? I don’t want to start a war. Let’s just talk, please. I am so tired of this. I’m tired of thinking up comebacks and ways to sneakily get you to do what I want. You are smart and there’s no way I’ll be able to do either of those things effectively. It would just make you even angrier and give you more reasons to not want to work with me.
That’s all I want: us working together.
I don’t know why this happens, why we binge, but I think we can figure it out together. That’s why I’m not fighting back and being the “adult” around here. That approach has never worked. The only thing that works is getting everyone on board voluntarily and willingly. If I threaten and bribe and plead, it will only work for a little while, if at all.
I just can’t do that anymore. I am so done with that.
That’s why I’m “letting” the bingeing happen. I’m trying something new. I’m letting all this happen and seeing what comes up. Squashing the bingeing shuts down the conversation, as I observed with Twenty. When she stopped bingeing, I lost interest in what she had to say because all I cared about was the bingeing, not her.
I care an incredible amount about the bingeing and what it’s doing to both our emotional and physical health. But I care about you more.
And as much as it kills me and feels so wrong to “let” it keep happening, that’s what I’m going to do.
Bingeing is like smoke that makes you all come out from the caves where you were hiding. I’m fumigating up in here, so come on out. This party isn’t going to stop until we talk. I guess that was a threat, but it’s the only card I have to play right now. I just really want to talk.
This is killing me as well. I want to have this new life and put everything behind me.
I want to do so many things, including what you deem impossible: going back to school. I can’t tell you how heartbroken I am when I go to bed with plans to start turning things around and then can’t even get out of bed in the morning to brush my hair. I don’t like looking like this either. I don’t like people seeing this. I really don’t.
But this is who I am right now, and I’m going to be this way and not be ashamed of it.
I’m bingeing and that’s all. I’m not going to tell you guys how bad you are, I’m just going to ask: “Are you sure?”
And no matter how many times you say, “Yes,” I will agree. I will agree even if I cannot find a single thing to wear that fits in this country of tiny people and have to walk around in a potato sack with arm and head holes cut out of it. I am not going to stop. You cannot scare me. I don’t have anything to lose. I’ve already lost everything. I don’t know anyone here. I don’t care what they think or say.
All I care about is us.
We’re also playing a game of chicken. You test me to see if I’ll keep bingeing whenever you ask and won’t get scared no matter how big we get. I’m testing you to see if you’ll finally give up and stop asking because you’re the one who gets scared.
Neither of us are going to “win.” We’re just going to keep eating until we get buried under all this food.
I want it to stop. I know you want it to stop. I’m not going to beg you or try to trick you into cooperating. I don’t need or want cooperation. I want participation. I want you to want this on your own.
I don’t know exactly why this is happening. I have some ideas, but not the whole picture. None of us do. I have a part of it, Twenty has a part of it, and you have a part of it. I’m sure Cookie Monster (11) knows a thing or two, as well.
So I’m not going to beg you or try to trick you.
I’ll agree to your bingeing demands, but you should know you’re only hurting yourself. You’re not hurting me at all. I love myself and all of you and love is so much stronger than all the hatred and anger you are directing towards me. It’s like a forcefield that bounces back all the negativity you throw at me and makes it smack you in the face.
Do you want to hurt yourself?
Because I’ll share with you a drop of wisdom I’ve gained after going through all this. Hurting yourself is not artistic, or tragic, or making a statement. It is nothing. It means nothing, it does nothing, it changes nothing.
You’re not even listening anymore.
You’re shutting the door on me so you can hide in the closet and cry and punch and scratch at yourself and wish you were dead or anywhere else in the world but here. Still waiting for your letter from Hogwarts that never made it into your hands.
I can’t remember. Why would you do that?
It wasn’t just the food. It was anything but the food.
What was it?
You’re screaming at me to go away, to get out of your room. OK, I’m leaving. I’m not going to tell you, “Well, this is my house,” and make you come out and talk to me.
I am leaving. I won’t drag you out kicking and screaming.
I’ll be drinking tea with Twenty and you’re welcome to join whenever you decide that you want something more than that closet or that food can offer.
Whenever you’re ready.
I also don’t really have a question. Everyone hates these stupid questions.
I also feel like these questions are kind of fake.
Kind of like at the end of an interview when they ask you, “Do you have any questions for us?” and you panic because you were so worried about their questions that you forgot to come up with your own and so you make up something off the top of your head to sound like you did your research before coming and are interested in their company even though you are concentrating so much on looking fascinated by their answer that you’re not actually listening. That kind of fake.
I really don’t intentionally try to be this way, it just happens.
I’m working on it.