October 17, 2007


I don't usually read non-fiction. Normally, I can't much even stand it. But I read this.

#24 Marya Hornbacher: Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (October 2007)

I had despised this book greatly without ever having given it a chance to speak. Someone had been trying to get me to read it. At the time, I had wanted nothing to do with the book. She kept handing it to me, and I kept sneaking it back with her other books, unread. This went on for years. I had known nothing about eating disorders, and thought the book sounded uninteresting and stupid. Why would someone eat if they were just going to throw the food up, I thought, they're wasting food. I grew up amazingly poor at times, so I knew all about not wasting food. Now I think back on those thoughts and want to smack my younger self. I was ignorant. I can see a great importance in a bulimic eating now of course. A bulimic does not always keep their food, but that doesn't mean they never hope, want to or don't try. And an anorexic, I thought had to be stick thin, but knew before I read this book that that's not the case at all - a person's weight doesn't matter in the concern over whether he or she has a serious case or not. It simply means some people may be more healthy, and perhaps, I think, have a better chance at survival. We'll never understand as outsiders why a bulimic or an anorexic feels the need to be thin when they are perfection, the image of pure beauty in their heart already.

I knew before getting into this book that I would not read a story in which the girl lived happily ever after. She has life-lasting conditions that will always be a part of her. "There is no 'cure.' A pill will not fix it, though it may help. Ditto therapy, ditto food, ditto endless support from family and friends. You fix it yourself," (Hornbacher 284). This bit of news can be truly sad for a person watching someone they love and care about as they go through the routines of having anorexia or bulimia, knowing all the while there is nothing they can do but be there for their friend or loved one and hope one day it will end. But it doesn't end. So you can only hope their life will be different. Better. Happier.

This book was difficult to read at times. It taught me some things I didn't know, while confirming things I thought but had not known for sure. It can scare you. All of a sudden you are provided with someone's secrets and feel the desperate need to check on people you know and listen as they assure you they are 'okay,' they are 'fine.' It pulls your mind and plays games even on you, where you close the book and remind yourself who you are.

This book is filled with quotes at the start of chapters, especially from Lewis Carrol's well-known Alice. This is one of them (though not from Alice, I apologize). "Oh there is no use in loving the dying. / I have tried. / I have tried but you can't, / you just can't guard the dead. / You are the watchman and you / can't keep the gate shut." -Anne Sexton, "Letter to Dr. Y," 1964 (pg 181). I cannot do a single thing. I am helpless as ever I have possibly been and then some. But I disagree here. There is use, and I won't stop loving them even if it takes them first.