Oh hey, words in a row on my blog.
So, a confession, and an excuse for where I’ve been. Once I swallowed blind panic and started live storytelling and stand-up, I discovered that getting immediate feedback (laughter or silence so loud it feels like white noise) is deeply and wholly satisfying. When you type and hit Publish, it’s already half forgotten.
2018 was also a difficult ride that I can only compare to trying to fit a potato masher into a very small drawer every day, and then one day, by some miracle, it fits perfectly and the drawer slides shut smoothly.
Everything I wrote below (and performed at New West Lit Fest last weekend) is true, but I feel it’s important that you know this girl typing right now is very close to loving what she sees in the mirror and reflected in someone else’s eyes. Good comes around, when you least expect it.
My name is Brooke Takhar, I’m 41 years old and for the last 25 years I have hated my body, this meat sack that keeps me upright. That’s a bummer, right? Women are supposed to eventually settle the fuck down and embrace their flaws and lines and flickable skin tags and pubic hair that hits our knees.
When I was 17, a THING, this sticky swirl of smoke, created a nest in my brain and I gave over to its demands. I was just out of a highly unsatisfying high school run and had no direction. What was next? This voice rasped and coaxed and pleaded with me, hey I know something we can do that you have full control over: let’s get skinny. Become beautiful. Pop bones out, completely shed that scared chubby latchkey kid we used to be.
So I became an all-powerful idiot. I said no to food even when my Mom pleaded for me to eat. I was constantly light headed, which felt like a high, with the smug satisfaction of how much better I was than you and you and you. Oh, you need real food to succeed? I only need three unstirred yogurts to get through this day, this week, this month.
The smoke knit a blanket of lies while I slept 12-13 hours a night and it gently covered my eyes. I couldn’t see myself wasting away. I only saw the pockets of fat my body was desperately stockpiling to survive. I was going to be the cutest skeleton you ever did see. Everything would be better.
Everyone cares when you’re too thin but they stop talking when you approach. Their eyes are soft and scared. But you know they are just jealous. Of everything you have accomplished. But you don’t have much time to savour it because you’re sick, you’re so sick all the time. You brace yourself on furniture casually and thoughts float away like clumsily tied balloons at the fair.
I got a press pass to cover the new Vancouver NBA franchise. I was obsessed with basketball. I wanted to have Shawn Kemp’s 18th bastard. Every game I stood outside the locker room, willing myself to go in while I swayed. What if I went in and passed out, reaching up blindly for help and grabbing fistfuls of young black dick? I mean that’s not totally terrible and probably the beginning of an amazing porno I would 100% watch but I’d never be able to write in this town again.
I was sliding into single digit sized jeans but I couldn’t remember what day it was. And still the voice persisted. You’re so good at this, Brooke. I’m so proud of you.
The look on my Mom’s face was getting harder to ignore. I reluctantly went to see a nutritionist recommended by my doctor.
I sat in a tiny office with clip art of fruit and vegetables printed on the walls and proudly rattled off the terribly small amount of food I allowed myself to eat that day. I remember her hands gripped her clipboard a little tighter but she stayed silent and listened. I’m sure she then said a million thoughtful sentences lined up in perfect order but the voice in my head batted them away like summer fruit flies. Somehow though ONE line snuck in. “The way you eat, and the way you deny yourself, would you treat a child this way?”
I was a million years away from having a child but somehow that perspective softly struck a match. The fire it lit slowly engulfed the hissing voice in my head until it retreated back into the damp hole it had come from. The black sticky smoke, the voice, was anorexia and looking back I feel so very lucky that I was able to unshackle myself before I had to become hospitalized, or worse.
I ate again. I ate so much. Because I discovered weed. A few tokes of that dank 1997 Cloverdale weed and you will pound through a box of dry cornflakes like they are from a Michelin-star restaurant. I made nachos out of rice, jammed wet fingers into the corners of potato chip bags to snag the stale crumbs, and rolled through the McDonald’s drive thru at 1 AM with no shoes on for those strawberry milkshakes that make you shart in your sleep.
I gained all the weight back and got a job and got a car and wasn’t a whisper of a person but I was immediately miserable.
I didn’t know how to eat. Food was a stranger to me. I ate too little and made my Mom cry and I ate too much and made myself cry. I got high, melted cheese on multiple plates (JUST CHEESE ON JUST PLATES and if you remember anything from this Depressing Ted Talk of mine, you should totally get high and melt cheese on a plate because when you put it in your mouth you can see into the future for like 3 seconds it’s so good) and then I would pass out, woke up and do it again.
I’ve lost count now of how many times I have become a born-again jogger, then collected bedsores from couching it. I have clothes in all sizes. It feels like I’m on a broken roller coaster being controlled by a carnie who is also a dog and also dead and I can never get off. Whether I’m healthy or horrible, I’m always hungry, always unsatisfied and always an A cup. It feels like I pissed off a gypsy at some point. An A cup. A cups are only cool if you’re a pedophile.
This eating disorder is something coded in my DNA now and isn’t a vice I can be mysterious about, like heroin. With this constant shifting on my body, my weakness is always on display like I’m wearing a name tag that says “Hi, I would eat your baby teeth if they had cheese melted on them.”
I’ve lied to my daughter about how I feel about myself because she has to love herself. Please let her love what I could never love. Please let her never listen to the lies that may slither and tangle around her sweet smelling head. How could I ever forgive myself if she falls down the well I have set up shop in for the last 25 years?
I’d like to stop staring at women’s bodies like an old perv at the mall, day dreaming about calves that go like that and tits that go like this and stomachs stretched so taut they look like Saran Wrapped skin. I want that, I will never have that, I deflate, the black smoke stirs, smiles, and knows I’m still haunting my own house.
I promise I’m still fun to hang out with. I keep this shitty internal struggle private so I can treasure this incredible life I have pulled off, with my magical family and the wonderful collection of people I have tricked into being my friends.
They love this meat sack with a mouth I’m manoeuvring into the back half of life.
They don’t think there’s anything wrong with my body. Maybe if I repeat that over and over to myself, quietly, loudly, scream it so the black smoke recoils forever, maybe one day I will believe it too.