The Creation of an Overeater: Mary's Story
- Category: Workbook
He kicks the couch. She hears the wooden legs scrape against the floor. Her body tight and unmoving, she tries to be as hard and still as the floor. The colors on the TV screen seem to become more vivid to her. She tries to pour her entire being into the screen, making the pictures and sounds her whole world.
He roars at the walls. "Nothing gets done around here. What kind of mess is this?" Mary's eyes glaze. Her heart beats faster. Her mind is totally absorbed in a soap commercial. Her body attempts to retreat into a numb calm. She ignores the pounding of her heart.
From the coffee table her father picks up a small box of crayons and throws it across the room. She breathes deeply and stares at the Bugs Bunny cartoon now playing. She is oblivious to all but the cartoon. She has achieved invisibility and nonexistence.
He bellows, "Nobody does a damn thing around here!" and sweeps an end table with his hand, sending a lamp and ashtray flying. She has lost awareness of her body, the floor, the room, sounds, sights, smells. To Mary now, only Bugs Bunny exists. Her father lurches around the room, mumbling unintelligibly. In the cartoon Bugs Bunny steals a carrot. Mary laughs.
Her father whirls at her. "What's so funny, you lazy good-for-nothing brat, making a mess everywhere and laughing at me!" She looks up, dazed. She doesn't know what he is talking about. She is so removed she doesn't know who or what he is.
"Answer me, you worthless, no-good!"
He picks her up and throws her across the room. She crashes into the wall. She may feel terror and pain. She may cry out, "No, Daddy, please," or, "I'll be good," or "I didn't do anything," or "I'm sorry."
She may say and feel nothing. She may remain dazed and feel body pain later. She may not remember this happened. She may remember the events but not the feelings. She may remember body and emotional feelings, but not the event. Lack of memory or partial memory shields her from the unendurable knowledge that she lives with a dangerous person. This person can explode at any time, frighten her, hurt her for no understandable reason, and she can do nothing to stop him or protect herself.
All she can do is blank her felt existence out of existence. For a while, Mary does not exist to herself. In the future, bingeing or starving or acting out symptoms of bulimia will help her maintain her blank sense of herself when that seems to be her safest choice.