As she took the next scoop of ice cream into her mouth, she broke out in helpless tears. She continued to cry and eat until she finished the bowl of ice cream and stuffed all the leftover pizza inside her mouth.
Nina looked at herself in the mirror. Nope. No, this is not it. She turned to the side and observed her reflection. There she stood wearing one of her favorite pantsuits. The grey jacket used to have a modest elegant fit to it. But now, it didn’t.
She exhaled and closed her eyes.
“Nothing fits. I look like a whale. A sad lonely pig whose clothes do not fit her anymore. And it’s all my fault.”
Nina groaned. There was no way she could go to work looking like this. Everyone would notice and start asking questions. She knew without a single doubt that the snide remarks would come. The subtle innuendos of how much weight she had gained within just a week of the Easter break.
She took off the clothes and stood there in her underwear and inspected her body. So many folds and cellulite-ridden bits. Obviously, she would be the talk of the office. And everyone would think they know why. They would say it is because her best friend moved halfway across the country and so she ate her feelings away.
To be honest, they were not wrong. That was part of the reason, it was not the whole story. Her best friend, Sam had gotten a job as a sales rep in a pharmaceutical company two years ago and convinced her to come with. Nina soon got a job in the accounting department and moved in with her. Everything seemed fine until three weeks ago when Sam had announced that she had applied for a promotion and had gotten it while she casually slipped in the fact that she was going to move halfway across the country. This time though, she did not ask Nina to follow her.
Not that she would have anyway, Nina thought. She was older and wiser now.
They had known each other all their lives. Been friends since they were in diapers. And while Sam was more outgoing and friendly, Nina was not. Sam was literally Nina’s connection to the outside world. The few times Sam forced her to go out, she ended up not knowing half the people there and so would just retreat into her shell.
But with Sam gone, Nina felt lost. She did not know what to do with herself. She was almost sure she would be invisible to the world. She had no friends. Not that she knew how to make them. She was always anxious and awkward in public. Being the biggest girl in the group tends to make you feel small inside over time. She had self-esteem and body image issues. The list was long. The therapist her single mother had managed to afford for just a few months in high school had advised her against her dependency on Sam. But who listened to their therapist, anyway?
Well, here she was. She hasn’t stepped out of the apartment in weeks. Only eating junk food and now she can’t fit into any of her work clothes. She had no one. No friends. No boyfriend. Who would want to date someone like her? Sam was always the one with admirers.
Nina slumped her shoulders and used her hands to cover her body in disgust. There was no way she was going out like this. The world would eat her alive. No way!
She stepped over the clothes she had spewed all over the room and went into her closet. She pulled on sweatpants and dragged a sweater over her head. She found her phone on her bed and called in sick.
She went to the fridge and brought out some leftover pizza and ice cream. She carried it over to bed and jumped under the covers. As she continued to eat her feelings, she looked at herself in disgust. She wanted to stop but just could not. As she took the next scoop of ice cream into her mouth, she broke out in helpless tears. She continued to cry and eat until she finished the bowl of ice cream and stuffed all the leftover pizza inside her mouth. She felt drained and overfilled when she looked at the empty bowl. She flung it across the wall and wept in disgust.
She sank further under the covers and cried herself to sleep.
She woke up some hours later and went into the bathroom to pee. She sleepily looked her plain face in the mirror and her haphazard haircut. She hated it all. This silly haircut, which was Sam’s idea, by the way, made her look a schoolgirl. No wonder no one took her seriously. She fumed in anger as she ran out in search of scissors. She found one in the bedroom drawers and went back into the bathroom. She didn’t wait a beat before she grabbed one end of her hair and cut it out. She looked down at the fallen strands in mortification.
What had she done? Now her hair looked a mess. An ugly mess! Her whole life was an ugly mess!
She felt tears well up in her eyes again. She quickly wiped it off as she made her way to the fridge. She pulled a half-eaten cake. She closed the fridge but soon opened it again and brought out the bread, peanut butter, chocolate, everything she could lay her hands on. She carried them all to her room and switched the lights off.
She ate and slept and cried, in no particular order throughout the day. Only getting up to use the toilet. She continued to sleep and wallow in self-pity until she even forgot about the world on the outside.
The next day, she called in sick. And did again for the rest of the week. Surviving on take-out and junk food. Soon, she stopped feeling. She just wanted to be in the dark. There was nothing to live for. She ignored her phone and did not reply to her texts.
On the fifth day, the room was so filthy, there was no way you could even see the bare floor. It stank of stale food and a dirty body. Now, she couldn’t even muster the energy to order food, take a shower, or even stand up to pee. She lay in her bed and peed on herself. There was no use getting up.
That was when she heard her door and a sharp intake of breath. The light in her room came on and there her mother stood with tears in her eyes. She knew she wished she could help her and couldn’t fight the disappointment and disgust that welled in her. She broke out in heart-wrenching sobs and her mom just stepped forward, sat on the bed, and drew her into her warm embrace. Then she had managed to cry herself back to sleep. She woke up to find her mother had cleaned the whole apartment and it almost as if it was not the same place she just had an episode.
She sat up on the bed and looked at the tray of pancakes her mother set before her. They still had not said anything. But now she could not take it anymore.
“I am so sorry, ma.” Nina cried. “I- “
“It’s okay. I am here. And I love you.” Her mom stretched her hand and wiped the tear off her face. “Look at me, you are an amazing and special human being. And I will remind you till you start to believe it. I love you, Nina but God loves you more.”
Nina shook her head hysterically. “No, I don’t believe that ma. I don’t see it. This love you speak about. I don’t feel it. I feel empty and worthless! Invisible, ugly, and unloved. How is it that He loves me, and I still feel this way? Why?!”
Her mother’s eyes welled up in tears at her outburst. “That’s because you do not reach out- “
“HE is God, isn’t he? Couldn’t he see my suffering? Can’t he heal the chemical imbalance in my brain that is making me feel this way?”
“He can. He sees your pain. And His heart is breaking that you are feeling this way. Just like mine. Because even if I am not here, I still love you. Even when I don’t know what you are going through, I still would do anything to help you. But He knows. He understands you more than anyone ever can. He wants to help. You just have to reach out. You don’t need to go through this alone.”
“I don’t want to. I don’t want to.” Nina broke down in tears. Her mother took her hands and closed her eyes. She started to quote a psalm and Nina gradually felt a calm spread through her. There was peace in her soul. Like still waters. She felt loved and enveloped. Soon, she joined her mother in reciting the psalms and did something she had not done in a long time. Something she did not even know she still knew how.