Rock Bottom: Throwing Out My Scale For Good
I was squatting naked on the floor.
I held the glass scale in my hands and knocked it repetitively with medium force on the only exposed square of laminate on my floor, portioned out of the sea of clothing that covered the rest of my floor and cleared, for just this purpose.
In this posture I was the height of my standing suitcase, spewing out the clothing I’d folded neatly upon my departure from my parents’ home just a day earlier after a successful and deeply comforting visit home. Easter, to judeo-christians, is a feast. We celebrate Christ’s resurrection by casting off the Lenten restraint of the past forty days and eating like Christ the King. In short, because God died so that we can have eternal life, you can eat all of the things that you want and also peeps.
I thought I could do it. I really did. But here I am, a day later at the scale’s mercy.
The digital display – a lonely bit of gray on an other otherwise pane of thick glass – isn’t working quite right. Typically all it takes to activate it, to get the requisite row of three zeros before stepping on and seeing how much weight I’ve lost or gained in pounds and ‘decabalized’ ounces, is a slight tap. A hesitant big toe plunking out a note on a piano and the gray screen’s eyes open – it knows this song too.
Today, (tonight really, work being over and dinner eaten and the sun in the business of setting ever so slightly later) big toe conjures nothing. Full weight of foot expertly applied does not roust it from its slumber. I employ a trick that’s worked in the past, I crouch down – ignoring the strangely vulnerable feeling of the skin of my upper thighs being pressed against the very different skin of my breasts – and begin to tap the scale. At first, with gentle reverence, and as my attempts continue on unsuccessfully, with enough force to jolt it awake but not enough to startle my roommate or shatter the glass. That’s the goal anyway.
Since nothing is working, I play naked detective and remove the battery panel – already contemplating stealing a AA from the remote control even if it means having to put on all my clothes, even if it means waiting until my roommate is asleep so I won’t have to explain it. When you work so hard to hide something like trying to get your scale to work, maybe wonder what it is you’re hiding.
I didn’t think this then. And if I had I would’ve followed the thought with “it doesn’t matter anyway” – the battery was one of those single-cell circular lithium jobs, the kind reserved for the type of over-sized Timex specials sold at every drugstore right beside the non-prescription readers and the pill organizers. Just like those but bigger, the size of nickel, making all my schemes of pilfering shared household batteries for naught.
The way I saw it, I had exactly two options – wait until tomorrow, buy a battery after work, replace it and weigh myself then, or lick the battery in a last ditch attempt to work some ‘juice’ out of it, a trick I’d heard maybe in middle school. In case you missed that, let me sum up – I would rather lick a battery than skip weighing myself.
I licked the battery, it was metallic – duh – and alarming, like a shot of electricity. Because it was battery acid. The hairs on the back on my neck stood up, the sensation of licking that innocuous looking thing had set off an internal chain of reaction not unlike hearing a million nails going down a chalkboard.
Plus it didn’t even work.
So I waited until the next day and bought a new battery.
So I sank back down and kept hitting the scale to the ground. The hairs-on-the-back-of-my-neck had turned into a swelling-at-the-base-of-my-throat that bespoke either a coming tidal wave of tears or a rapidly metastasizing tumor activated by the acid I’d just ingested. When the tears hit the glass I had my answer. Rather than be relieved that I did not have a long and difficult road of cancer treatment ahead of me, the face-water only made me angry, and my measured tapping became heavy-handed pounding, and, like Hulk before her, Becca smashed.
I rocked back, my naked ass stabbed by the heel of a shoe. I held the scale, cracked into two pieces, one in each hand. I was like a naked, non-prophetic Moses with his commandments. It took a second for me to see that I’d managed to cut my hand as well. From the living room, my roommate called, “Are you okay?” I shouted back and was alarmed and impressed to find my voice still sounded just like my own. “Yeah,” I said, “I’m fine.”
Oh hey rock bottom, how the fuck are you?
I was not fine. I was bleeding, I was stifling paroxysms of grief and panic as they rose from my stomach back down my throat with my other clenched unbloodied fist. For the past six months I had geared up my already pretty active life with the knowledge that I had come to a point where I was more than ready to redirect the unending amount of effort – of brain power even – to hating every inch of my body and forcing it to take a shape it’s not meant to be, into loving my body and working to make it stronger, to make it more flexible, to undo a lifetime of hunching and hiding. The heart was willing, the flesh – the flesh strengthened and newly spreading its wings, shyly revealing its beaut,y tentatively trusting of the love and respect directed its way daily – the flesh was mine and strong – it was, in this case, the mind that was weak.
I have been such an activate participant in hating my body, I’ve been vigilant. I micro-managed every success and failure in the way I micro-managed everything. Changing my relationship with exercise and food was easy compared to this still ongoing struggle of changing my relationship with myself. Without a scale to step on, how do I know my value? Without ‘bad days’ how do I explain the days where I feel ugly, scared, unlovable? If I can’t blame those feelings on a number, then I can’t blame myself, and if I can’t blame myself, it means I need to more closely examine every feeling as it pulses through me – do I feel ugly because I am feeling insecure? Probably. Do I feel scared not because I’ll never be thin, but because I’m worried about my career? Yeah, totally. Do I feel unlovable because I am single, and am I single because I choose men who feed my feelings of inadequacy because I have taught myself that I am inadequate. UH – HOW ABOUT YOU SHUT UP CAREFUL EVALUATION OF MY OWN ACTIONS AND LET ME STAND ON A SCALE WHERE IT IS THE FAULT OF NUMBERS, NOT OUR STARS, OH HORATIO.
I once wrote here on this site, “will I go home and throw away my scale?” my answer then was some sort of pithy version of “no guys, I can’t yet,” but today I can say unequivocally that yeah, I am totally going home and throwing out my scale, because it is a busted pile of glass, so really I guess the question today is “are you going to buy another scale?” to which I say “no”. It is hard to battle someone who refuses to fight, and I am not fighting anymore. If I need to find reasons to celebrate myself and I can’t take delight in simple victories like my ability to run with ease, my graduation from one level of pilates to another, or how I am a good friend, and a funny thoughtful person, than I can take delight in knowing that I am a person who thought enough of herself not to give up fighting for her right to happily exist.