Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Woman at the Y, part 4

She was back again. The woman at the Y. I thought I was ready. I'd talked to myself about it. I'd told myself, It's her business, it's her life, I don't know her story, and anyway, there's nothing I can do. So when she took up a position right toward the back of the room this morning, I made myself look away from her in the mirror. I did OK.

But five minutes later, I looked at the mirror and she had somehow moved up in the class. She was now directly behind me, close enough to once more see the shape of her thigh bones through her pants, see the strained and straining look on her face. When the song ended I moved across the room, to a spot where I couldn't easily see her. I thought I was doing OK.

And she took off her shirt.

Understand, this is not a class where people take off their shirts or exercise in their sports bras. I've never seen anyone else do that. Not that there's anything offensive about the idea of working out in a sports bra; it's just not the culture of this particular class. So her action would have been startling no matter who she was or what she looked like.

Now everyone could see the shape of every rib, count the knobs of her spine, consider the impossibly small diameter of her waist.

I fled. I ran out of the room clutching my water bottle and sat in the bathroom of the Y and cried.

I'm sure at this point that she knows that her presence disturbs me. As a friend later said, it's as if she's a specter, haunting me. As if I needed haunting. As if I needed reminding of everything anorexia has taken from the people I love and care about.

I won't be going back to that class.

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