I felt sweat dribble down my back when I answered the call. I'd had the number tucked away, deep in my wallet for two years. I don't know why I pulled it out and left a message that day but I didn't have much time to think about it as here she was calling me back.
I was sitting in my car in front of my sister's house, about to spend the afternoon with my niece when I saw the number pop up. I ignored my immediate urge to let it go to voicemail and forced my hand to answer the phone. The air in the car suddenly felt heavy, and I was having trouble catching my breath.
"Why don't' you start by telling me a little about your situation,” Kelly, an eating disorders therapist, began after we exchanged greetings.
"Well, I think I might have some food and body issues," I said vaguely. My heart was pounding with the reality that for the first time, sitting in that hot, stuffy car, I might out the secret that I had kept shoved deep inside for over a decade.
"Okay, tell me a little more about that," she prodded gently.
"I'm thin. " I blurted out, taking a deep breath to calm my shaking body, slowing the rush of adrenaline roaring through me like an angry river.
“Okay, well, let’ start with the basics,” Kelly said seemingly un phased. “How tall are you?
"I'm about five-eight," I answered, forcing a casualness I did not feel.
“How much do you weigh?” She continued, unaware the impact of those five words were having on me.
Although I had braced for it, and promised myself I’d be truthful, hearing the question out loud shattered my bravado. I wanted to skitter into my dark, safe corner of denial.
"I'm not sure how much I weigh," I lied before giving a number slightly higher than my scale read just hours earlier.
There was a pause as if she were jotting something down.“Do you exercise?” She asked cautiously.
"Yes," I said, and rattled off the same rehearsed spiel I've given my doctors over the years, "I mostly play tennis, but I throw in other things like boot camp, weight training, and cycling, you know, when I have time." Hoping that would answer her question and she would let it go at that.
"How many hours a week would you say you exercise? "Kelly persisted.
"Well, it varies," I stalled, doing the math in my head and giving her half the actual total. A number that I hoped relayed that I was active but not obsessive.
"That is quite a bit," she said, concern creeping into her voice." And what about food?" She continued, "about how many calories a day would you say you are eating?"
Like the others, I anticipated this question. I answered with a calorie count that I believed sounded reasonable yet nowhere near the truth.
She was silent for several seconds, although it seemed more like minutes. My shirt was sticking to my body from the hot summer sun streaming through the car window. I was exhausted from revealing more to Kelly than I had to anyone outside my journal. I sat there torn between hoping she would say she could help, and saying I was perfectly fine.
When she finally did speak, an icy shiver went down my spine.