“Jay’s Journey” – Part II
By Jayshree Nagrani
(This is the second in a multi-part series by a courageous woman who has chosen to use her voice to educate, create awareness, and support hope for recovery for all. As a member of a marginalized community, Jay’s words will ring familiar to many.To read the first part, please click here.)
(Please be advised that some content details may be triggering.)
The Memories within the Clothes
One of my best friends once said “Jay, wear your clothes and don’t let them wear you!” Sounds so easy and her words will forever be engrained in my brain. But damn, for someone who has an eating disorder it’s the opposite. At times, my clothes wear me, I swear. It’s like there is a memory that is stuck in each individual piece of clothing.
This morning I was getting ready to go to my usual Saturday runs. ED was playing his song in my head telling me that I ate too much of the Indian snack that I love so much and that as a result, I wouldn’t be able to fit into any of my outfits. Being in the ED mindset, I decided to start trying on all of my outfits that used to fit me loosely when I was at a lower weight. (I won’t say underweight because someone with a eating disorder never truly achieves the weight they want. You always want to be smaller and go lower than you are. It’s like a game of control).
So I tried on a romper that is one of my faves – neon pink with a touch of sky blue! Bright colors to suit my mood! I tried it on expecting it to hug extra tight onto my hips which I am so self conscious about. To my surprise it fit pretty nicely… I decided this was my outfit for the day!
As I jumped into the shower, my thoughts wandered to the last time I wore that same romper. I went to my friend’s family dinner. As I walked in, one of her aunts exclaimed (more like shouted) in her Jamaican accent “Lawd, look at how you put on weight! Life a treat yu good!” (ED translation: Lord, look at how much weight you gained. I suppose your life is pretty good.)
I felt this heat run through me and wanted the ground to open and swallow me up. Quickly, my friend told her aunt to clarify and let me know that she thought I looked nice as her comment would bother me…
Oh boy, now everyone knows I am conscious of my weight…. I want to go home! I swallowed and said to her aunt “I am sexy, aren’t I?” I did not mean an ounce of that comment but had to diffuse the focus from being on me and at least appear confident.
In our culture, Jamaican, the older generation particularly associates weight gain as a sign of having a prosperous life and being happy. On the flip side, this same generation associates thinner women as having a life where they can’t afford to eat and hence are smaller. I specify “older generation” as times are changing and I find that many Jamaicans are now so heavily influenced by other cultures in which being thin is praised.
I went home and put the outfit in the laundry wondering, “should have stuck it in the trash?” I obviously did not learn my lesson from the very first time I wore that outfit and still hung onto the feeling and perspective that I deserved the comment that was made. Yup, indeed, months earlier I christened that neon romper. I felt beautiful and confident. The next morning, I received a text from a guy that I knew fairly well. He told me that he wanted to tell me something but was not sure how I would interpret it. Of course I needed to know. I hate when people do that. He then continued with my permission to text that I gained a lot of weight and looked good. I told him thanks and blocked his ass! Wish I could block everyone that made comments about my weight.
So interesting that one outfit can contain so many stories. Once a comment (one that ED convinces me to perceive as a negative) is made, it’s as though it stays on the clothes like a permanent stain that nothing can ever remove.
That’s what an eating disorder is though…a stain. A nasty stain …
However, this one can be removed with a lot of hard work and support…
By the way, I got rid of the outfit. I gave it and a few other pieces of clothing to a girls’ home in Kingston, Jamaica. I am sure they will make long lasting and happy memories wearing that romper and the other garments.
This is the second in a multi-part series by a courageous woman who has chosen to use her voice to educate, create awareness, and support hope for recovery for all. As a member of a marginalized community, Jay’s words will ring familiar to many.To read the first part, please click here. To read part three, please click here.
About the author:
I’m Jayshree Nagrani, but most people call me Jay. I am a 37-year-old divorced mother of a 4 year old, living in Kingston, Jamaica, and I have an eating disorder. I am on a God blessed journey to recovery. Not there yet, but will be. ED, eating disorder, entered my life when I was 17 or maybe before … who knows? I feel I have a lot to offer through my experiences over the years.
As part of my recovery and for my own personal information, I have decided to educate myself on Eating Disorders, something that has interrupted and taken up 20 years of my life. It is even more important for me to speak up about this illness in Jamaica. Eating disorders are quite prevalent here, but no one chooses to acknowledge this, as they feel that being in a third world country where poverty is at an all-time high and coming forward to say you have an eating disorder is almost selfish and shallow. When I first came out to my psychiatrist in Jamaica about my eating disorder and specifically, at that time, I chewed and spit my food, he angrily looked at me. Part 1 of my series will share his response which basically sums up the view of eating disorders in the island and maybe even the Caribbean!
In order for me to regain power and control over my own life, I found that learning about this plague was going to relinquish its power over me and it has.
Every morning, my daughter comes in my bed and says, “Mommy! It’s wake up time!” – she is the reason I’m doing this. Sometimes I get anxious and think about my baby girl developing an eating disorder and hating her body and then all of a sudden I feel someone slap my head and say, “Stop your *****!” … I would say it’s God, but I don’t believe He speaks that way, so I know it’s my Dad who is in heaven now (he was murdered in Jamaica two years ago). I remember when I first told my Dad I had an eating disorder. He looked puzzled … But he didn’t say anything. I let him know that eating disorders had little to do with food, but a lot with control or feeling like I had a lack of it. He looked at me intently and said, “Jay, fix this. Remember that you are a mother now.”
You are right, Dad; I am a mother now and I will fix this.