This stair-step loss thing, man, it can do a number on your head. My pattern has stabilized pretty solidly—a few days of little losses, a few days to a week and a half of no movement (the length of this phase may have some relationship to my menstrual cycle but I haven't nailed it down yet), long enough to get irritated and frustrated but also comfortable enough that when the quick losses come for two or three days, I feel disoriented.
But it's not just that. It's this range I'm in right now. Today I saw a 224.6 on the scale. The last five or six pounds my gut's been doing flip-flops every time my weight goes down, looking at these numbers that don't even feel like they could be mine. Whose numbers are these? What person is this scale weighing? In twenty-five pounds I'll be under 200—I remember the last time I crossed under 200 pounds. I was 13, I think. I weighed myself in my parents' '80s-tile bathroom, and the number was under 200, and I thought As God is my witness, I'll never weigh over 200 pounds again. (Buckle up, baby girl.) I feel like I'm flashing quickly back through time based on my body size, and right now I'm 14 or 15, on the way up through my most rapid weight gain, explosive and alarming to everyone but me, because I was lost in it. And before too long I'll be thirteen again, as-God-is-my-witnessing. Who was that girl? What kind of woman will she become?
I look at myself in the mirror, I try on my measurement pants. I try to make sense of what I see. My bigness. My smallness.
I had a professional headshot taken yesterday courtesy of my PhD department, which is redoing its website and wants us all to have good pictures on it—put my face on, and hauled out on commuter rail, and presented myself to be photographed, and tried to pretend I wasn't dying inside of discomfort every instant at being looked at that intensely, at what he must be thinking of the difficulty of doing this particular job. "Cross your legs? Tip your chin this way. No, this way. A little more. Chin up? I'm going to make you laugh, so hold the tilt." He tried a staircase first (for the flattering angle, I assume) and then a standing background shot, and then, finally, had me hop up on a windowsill in front of a mullioned window with the university crest. That's where he got the shots he liked. He showed me the one he liked best, and I put my eyes on it for the briefest conceivable second, nodded and smiled, and got the hell out of there. It was like an anxiety fugue state, and afterwards, waiting for the train home, when I tried to picture the image, I was sure it had showed me with no jawline, my eyes uneven, my teeth yellow, my cheeks swallowing my features, my neck nonexistent. I took a selfie and there I am, whatever I look like now, for this particular split second, my face quirky and imperfect but face-shaped—there's the jawline, with the little point to the chin—and dominated, now, by the intense blue of my eyes. Groomed brows. Familiar crooked smile. Small potato nose. I look at it and it looks back, reassuring and incomprehensible.
(One foot in front of the other, one day at a time.)