Amanda. That was the name of my favorite doll when I was young. Dressed in a pink ruffly dress, she had a mass of curly brown hair, big green eyes, and pale skin that made the freckles stand out on her nose. She and I would hang out in my room, listening to Tammy Wynette records and playing Malibu Barbies for hours. She knew all my deepest, darkest nine-year-old secrets.
Imagine my surprise. When I finally got my butt off the bench and walked across the street to Kirsten’s office for our first scheduled appointment, and a tall, beautiful real-life Amanda opened the door. Although she wasn’t wearing a pink dress, she wore a pale pink blouse that perfectly offset her dark wavy hair and freckled skin.
"Sherri, it’s nice to meet you,” Kirsten said as she greeted me. She had a broad smile and a relaxed manner that exuded a quiet confidence. I felt immediately comfortable with her.
I had taken special care with my appearance on the day of my appointment with Kirsten. Applied more blush to disguise my pale skin, adding rarely worn mascara to make my eyes look less sunken. Although it was a very warm day, I covered my arms and protruding collarbone with my favorite long sleeve yellow shirt. Attempting to look more “normal.”
I watched Kirsten’s eyes as we made initial small talk and took our seats in her ninth floor office.overlooking downtown. I was searching for signs she was assessing my appearance. It was second nature to me. Having lived a decade with everything from glances to overt stares by others upon first seeing me, I couldn’t help but hop on the alert when in a new situation. And for this meeting, I was especially attuned to Kirsten’s reaction, because I had done my research.
Kirsten, I had discovered through my extensive Google search, is to the world of anorexia what Sigmund Freud is to psychotherapy. Her training and experience are vast and undeniably impressive. If anyone would see right through my facade, I figured it would be this woman. But she showed no sign of shock. She gave no assessing glances up and down my body, just her genuine smile, which reassured me that I was still in control of the situation. I could take or leave what Kirsten had to offer, no pressure.
For months, I had been telling myself I wanted help. I no longer wanted to feel trapped in my sore, achy body, afraid to leave the house for fear of how others might look at me or what they might say. I wanted to stop feeling as if I were on the outside of life looking in, stuck perpetually in junior high, feeling like the weird outcast alone in the cafeteria. It had worn not just me, but my whole family down.