Chapter 37 | I'm Beautiful
“Shane, I don’t want to talk about this right now.” I sigh, placing my glass of sweet tea on the counter.
We’re currently in my kitchen, working on some homework that we got from class today. After everything that happened yesterday with Angie’s mom and my parents finally talking, I just need a day of normalcy.
“You were already going to talk to me about it, but then the stuff with Angie’s dad happened. We need to talk about this.” He protests, placing the bowl of chips back down onto the counter.
We’ve been here working for probably close to two hours, and we aren’t even finished yet. He wants me to talk about my eating habits, and even though I already said I would, I’m currently regretting that decision.
“I just... don’t know what to say.” I admit.
“Just start from the beginning.” He urges, placing a comforting hand against my back.
I look around and realize we’re the only ones here. Dad is at an AA meeting and mom is still at work. Jacob is actually over at Shane’s house, playing with Peyton. Shane and I brought him there after picking him up from school. We’re supposed to go back to get him in a little while, but Shane is insisting we talk about this now.
“Well, this was before I even met you.” I begin.
“How long?” He asks.
“Probably... three or so years.” I confess, and his eyes slightly widen.
“Why haven’t you tried to talk to anyone before now? Like your parents, or Angie or Jax?” He wonders.
“Because... they wouldn’t understand.” I sigh. “They’re all so perfect. Especially my mom and Angie. They’re beautiful, and so thin... I just, I knew they would judge me.” I look down at my hands, now playing with my pen.
Shane carefully takes the pen from my hands and places it onto the counter. He then grabs my hand with his and stands us up, leading me upstairs into my room.
“Let’s get away from the textbooks, away from everything. Let’s talk about this. Just you and me. Nobody else.” Shane smiles, and once we’re in my bedroom, I feel a little more at ease.
“Well, when my dad started drinking, I sort of felt like it was my fault. He never said why he started drinking, and he would always pick fights with both my mom and me. I used to hear them screaming at each other all through the night when he would come home completely wasted.” I explain as Shane carefully listens.
“I don’t know, I guess I just felt like I could have been doing more to help him. Like I should have been doing more, so instead, I found comfort in food. I used to eat so much, every single day. To the point to where my stomach would be in excruciating pain. Then, I would lay down in my room all day, or all day after school, and do absolutely nothing.” I can feel water beginning to form beneath my eyes, but I keep any tears from falling.
I have to get all of this out. This is my chance to finally come to terms with my problem, and finally decide to fix it.
“Before I knew it, the weight started piling on. I felt useless, and pathetic. I stopped hanging out with Angie and Jax as much, I stopped trying in school, I stopped eating... I just didn’t care about anything anymore.”
Shane gently runs his thumb against my hand, giving me a sense of comfort in order to continue explaining. It makes me feel safe.
“They noticed something was off, so they forced me into hanging out with them all the time. Eventually, I got over it and allowed myself to socialize with at least them, because then I knew they would get off my back.” I admit, “I didn’t want them knowing that every time I look into a mirror, I cringe at myself. I didn’t want them knowing just how disgusted I feel, every time I have to get into the shower, or change my clothes. I just didn’t want them to pity me.”
“Add, they’re your best friends. The last thing they would do is pity you.” Shane says, and I nod.
“I know, but there was no convincing me of anything during that time.”
I take in a deep breath and let it out, just as Shane moves closer to me. We’re both sitting on the edge of my bed, my hand still in his.
“So, after my dad finally got sober, I decided I should stop too. I began eating again, normally for the most part, and I went out more with Angie and Jax. I finally started to feel happy again, but then something changed. I remember walking into my bathroom one day after breakfast, and when I saw those extra pounds sitting on my hips, I freaked out. I started eating less and less, and before I knew it, I was right back to where I started. Finally, I had enough of not eating, so I would binge eat. I would eat so much, in such a short amount of time that I would...” I trail off, not able to finish my sentence.
“That you would what?” Shane asks, even though I know he already knows the answer. He just wants to hear me say it out loud.
I shake my head, and he moves closer to me. He releases my hand, and it instantly yearns for his touch once more. Instead, he places his arm over my shoulder, and pulls me into his chest.
“I would... force myself to get sick.” I finally say, and at the exact same time, I feel an enormous amount of weight lift from my shoulders. However, I still have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that Shane won’t be able to handle someone like me.
“I’m sorry, I just don’t understand.” He says, and this surprises me.
“What do you not understand? I eat too much, and then I force myself to throw up so I don’t gain the weight.” I explain again, even though it’s still not easy to say a second time.
“Yes, but why? That’s so dangerous and harmful to your body. Why not just eat better food and start exercising if you don’t want to gain any weight?” He says, and anger begins to build inside me.
I knew he would react this way. I knew he wouldn’t understand. I knew he would judge me.
“You know what... forget it.” I say, and abruptly stand up, allowing his arm to fall to his side.
“No, I won’t forget it, Addie. I’m trying to understand.” He says while standing up to face me.
“No you’re not! You’re judging me!” I find myself shouting, “You’re judging me, and you don’t even realize that you’re doing it!”
“I’m not judging you, I’m worried for you! No wonder you passed out at the trial. No wonder you’re always in a irritable mood. It all makes sense now. Your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, and you’re probably dehydrated.” He begins to rant, and I try my best to remain calm.
“Shane, just leave. If you don’t understand now, you never will.”
“I’m not leaving. Not until I know everything.”
“There’s nothing else to know, Shane! I have an eating disorder, okay? I have bulimia! I’ve had it for a while now, and nobody knows!” I’m pacing my bedroom now, while Shane only watches me with wide eyes.
“Do you need me to draw you a picture? Do you need me to spell it out? I have a problem and I don’t know how to fix it!” I yell, and I notice Shane wince, “Do you need me to show you how my mind works, Shane? Because I can!”
I then stomp over to my bathroom and push the door open, allowing it to slam into the wall behind it.
I then yank the drawer open that contains my little black diet journal. I toss the tampons onto the bathroom floor and then yank the piece of wood out from the drawer and toss it on the floor as well. Once I have my journal in my hands, I storm out of the bathroom and slap it into Shane’s hand.
“There, read it.” I say, and he only looks at the journal, before looking back at me again.
“I’m not going to do that.” Shane sighs.
“Why not? It’s what you wanna know, right? So read it.” I cross my arms over my chest, and finally take a second to breathe.
“I don’t want to know like this.” He says, and I can’t help but become irritated.
“Here, let me read it for you then.” I walk up, snatch the journal from his hands, and open it up to a random page.
“April 30th, 2016 – I had two bowls of cereal today, I feel so full.” I begin reading.
“Stop it.” Shane says.
“I think I’m going to have to throw up again, although I really hate doing it because it makes my throat hurt.”
“I said stop it.”
I flip to another page.
“February 6th, 2016 – I just made myself throw up for the first time. I didn’t know my body could do that all on it’s own. It burned my throat, but I know it’s going to help me. I can’t gain this weight, I can’t be ugly anymore.”
“August 13th, 2016 – I hate looking into the mirror. I haven’t eaten anything today. My stomach is screaming to be fed, but I know that I can’t. All I want is a hamburger. Just one hamburger.”
“I SAID STOP IT!” Shane shouts, and I flinch at his sudden outburst. I quietly close the journal and hold it in my hands.
We stand in the middle of my room in complete and utter silence.
After a few seconds, I finally feel that my cheeks are wet. I’ve been releasing tears and hadn’t noticed.
I wipe at my cheeks with my arm, and set the journal down onto my bed.
“I know you want to see me as this perfect, outgoing, full of life girl, but I’m not. I’m disgusting. I’ve been trying to stop myself. To stop the thoughts. It worked for a while during the chaos of the trial, and worrying about Jacob, but now that it’s over... I have nothing else to think about.” I admit.
“That’s not true.” Shane says, his voice quiet.
“Of course it is.” I argue, and I notice his jaw clench.
“No, it’s not. Don’t you see?” He walks over to me and places both hands on my shoulders, “You have me to think about. Us. Your friends and your family. You have the entire world and future to think about. Do you not want to have a future? Do you not want a future with me? Do you want to kill yourself?” He asks, so harshly that it almost knocks the wind right out of my lungs.
“It’s not that simple. It’s not that black and white.” I say, and he lets out a breath.
“It is though. It is that simple Addie. You either want to live and fight, or you don’t.” He replies, and I take a second to think about it.
“I do want to live. I do want you. I want us.” I finally say as I look up into his dark brown eyes.
“Then let me help you beat this. Let me help you fight, because you can’t go at it alone.” He sadly smiles, while taking another step closer to me. My body feels ignited with passion and understanding. Suddenly I can feel everything, every touch. I feel it all and I want it.
I need it.
Before I can even give my response, he closes the small gap between us and smashes his lips against mine. They feel hungry and determined. They feel healing. I suddenly find the courage to kiss him back with everything that I have as I wrap my arms around his neck. I feel his hands drop from my shoulders to my waist as he wraps them around me and pulls me closer.
The only thing between us is our clothes.
Suddenly, I pull my arms from around his neck, and gently push him back by his chest.
“What’s wrong?” He breathes, confused as to why I stopped.
Before I can even comprehend what I’m doing, I reach for my cardigan and slowly pull it off, allowing it to fall to the floor.
“Addie...” Shane begins, but I hold up my hand to hush him.
Once my cardigan is resting on the floor, I reach for my shirt. I slowly pull it up and over my head, allowing it to fall beside my cardigan.
“You don’t have to-” but I cut him off again by holding my hand up once more.
As I stand in the middle of my room, in only my bra and pants, I carefully reach forward to unbutton my jeans. I lean forward and push them off, kicking them to the side.
I let my hands drop to my sides as I stand directly in front of Shane in nothing but my lace black underwear, and black bra. I reach up and pull my hair tie, letting my long brown hair fall down my back.
“This is it. This is me. I’m so tired Shane. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of not eating. I’m tired of being tired.” I let out a rigid breath, as Shane walks back over to me.
He slowly brings his hand up and runs the tips of his soft fingers down my arm, creating immediate goosebumps to break out over my exposed skin. Once he reaches the end of my arm, he brings his fingertips to my stomach, and I can feel myself suck in as his skin meets my own. He runs his fingers over my stomach, over every stretch mark and every flaw, as he looks directly into my eyes.
“If you could see yourself, just for one day, the way that I see you... you’d see how everyone else sees you. And my God, you’re fucking beautiful.” His eyes flash with a sense of admiration, and I can’t help but finally let out the breath I’d been holding. I’m no longer sucking in, I’m no longer scared.
“But-” He begins, as my eyes stay trained on his, “When was the last time you told yourself that you’re beautiful?”
The question is in my head, roaming around for only seconds, before he takes me by the hand and walks me into the bathroom. He pushes me in front of the wide mirror and stands directly behind me, his eyes peering around my body. He’s looking at me through the mirror, and I can’t help but hold in my breath again.
“Do it.” He says.
“Say that you’re beautiful.”
“I... can’t.” I admit, and look down at the empty sink.
“Baby, look at me.”
I bring my eyes back up, and stare into his through the mirror as he steps even closer to me, my back touching his chest.
“Say that you’re beautiful.” He instructs again, “Look at yourself, and say that you’re beautiful.”
I feel tears building up in my eyes again as I look at my body through the reflection.
“Say that you’re beautiful.” He instructs again, before leaving a delicate kiss against my exposed shoulder blade, “Say it, and mean it.”
“I... I’m beautiful.” I say just above a whisper.
“Good. Say it again.”
“Say it again. Louder.”
“I’m beautiful.” I say just a pitch louder.
“I’m beautiful.” I feel myself smiling as he continues to leave small kisses along my shoulder and neck.
“Again.” I feel him smile against my skin.
“I’m beautiful.” A tear falls from my eye, but it isn’t a sad one.
“One more time.” Shane smiles as he looks into my eyes through the mirror.
I take in a steady breath, and stand just a little bit taller. “I’m beautiful.”
Suddenly, Shane turns me around so we’re facing each other.
“I’m beautiful.” I whisper as I look up into his eyes, tears still in mine.
“You’re damn right you are.” He breathes against my lips, as he rests his forehead against my own, “So beautiful.”
And then, he’s kissing me with everything he’s got as we wrap our arms around each other.
I get lost in his kiss, so lost that somehow we manage to make it out of the bathroom and onto my bed. He gently lays me down, and the next thing I know his body is hovering over my own as he kisses me harder.
The need for him is almost unbearable, as I wrap myself around him. The pure vulnerability scares me, but I can’t find the will to stop. I don’t want to stop.
Suddenly, he yanks his shirt up over his head and tosses it aside. My eyes immediately go to his bare chest, as I glide my hand against his toned muscles.
“You know something.” I smile while looking up into his eyes.
“What?” He smiles back.
I softly bite the corner of my lip before saying, “You’re beautiful too.”
After that, I melt into his touch.