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A tightly composed account of how the author became so entirely obsessed with an imaginary ideal and fed her “monsters” with bouts of over indulgences and constant irresolution, “In the Presence of Monsters: the story of a fat girl who wasn’t,” is an emotional tale of how her “monsters” eventually manifested into what she calls, a “manageable” eating disorder. On the surface, her struggles looked like trite bouts of over indulgences … running far too many miles, eating way too many calories, drinking too much wine, spending too much money, but the internal despair was as thick as drying cement … throughout the book there are moments of humor, of glory and those of utter failure. Laced with journal outtakes and recent reflection, it’s a story people will resonate with and find comfort in knowing they’re not the only one who harbors absurd thoughts about their body and their place in this world.
Journal Entry, February Sixteenth, 2000: I have been hungry before. Although I cannot recall any occasion in recent times. But as certain as I am sitting here today, I know I have experienced the basic human feeling of hunger. I know I have felt the pangs before. Felt the subtle ache in my gut. I used to go for days without eating anything other than popcorn and drinking sugar-free Swiss Miss hot cocoa. The difference though, I suppose, is that back then I chose to be hungry. It was a decision I made fully aware and fully capable of altering had I wished. But I never wished—never wished to be full that is. Rather, I wished to be frightfully hungry. That my ribs would stick out and my stomach sink inward. That I could, in essence, disappear within my clothes. That I could be nothing more than a shadow. That my footsteps would be faintly heard like an exhale of breath. Yes, I know for certain that I have been hungry before. I just cannot remember when.I have, however, been full many times. Far too many times. In fact I have been so enormously full that I have wondered, from a purely physiological point, why my stomach hadn’t exploded. Because it has felt like it might. And eventually you would think that its elasticity would give way. But it never does. And then suddenly, I am given a chance to feel superficially hungry. To become empty again at last! Only to be filled up again, and again.
Journal Entry, June Third, 2003: While blow drying my hair this morning I fell to the floor. I stripped my clothes off and lay there for ten minutes. Sweating profusely. I felt each and every tiny bead of sweat take shape across my forehead. On my lower back. My ankles. My hair was wet again. I was cold. I felt for my pulse. It was weak. I thought for sure my heart would be racing. Was I having an allergic reaction to something? No. Probably not. I feared it was because I hadn’t eaten in three days. I sat on the bed, underneath the ceiling fan and waited. Slowly I was calm again. The sweating stopped. I wondered if this would happen again. After a few more minutes passed, I stood, walked to the bathroom and took another shower.