Monday, November 24, 2008

English 101: Notes from an Unexpected Teacher

A noun is a person, place, animal or thing.

A noun is a person. This person was a friend with whom I shared time and space, a friend who taught me lessons she will never know, a friend whom for now, I will leave nameless.

A noun is a place. The place is the toilet she went to after every meal like clockwork. A ‘meal’ could be a piece of candy, a bowl of cereal, a salad, it never really mattered. She would go in and turn on the tap, thinking it drowned out the sound: the sound of her liquid pain- her vomit.

A noun is an animal. A butterfly is what I hope she will evolve to become. She lived her days like a caterpillar, constantly searching for the things that were already in her. She was searching for wings, searching for beauty, searching for an array of geometric color.

A noun is a thing. There are the things she hid behind: like alcohol and the size 0 jeans that could no longer fit. There were the things only she could see: like globs of flesh where I only saw bones and skin. Call that thing dysmorphia*. A noun is the untangible things she wanted: things like love. Assurance. Acceptance. Stability.

It will always be my regret, that all that time I waited too long to tell her about the one thing that the English lesson of her life was missing-Adjectives. Adjectives are not as straightforward as nouns- they modify nouns.

I wish she knew adjectives like beautiful. Beautiful woman.

Loved. Even when not shown by the father who left her, the boyfriend who was never there. I wish she knew she was loved in unquantifiable ways by One who saw it all. Her vomit. Her pain. Her laxatives. Her tears. Loved woman.

Enough. Skinny enough. Pretty enough.

Beautiful enough loved woman.

* Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is psychiatric disease that causes several women with eating disorders to obsess about their appearance and see themselves with flaws they do not have. It is often called ‘imagined ugliness.’
**7 million women in America suffer from either Anorexia nervosa or Bulimia nervosa. 6% of those with serious cases die.
***A Nigerian study by two professors from the University of Benin found that 60% of girls studied between ages 13-17 induced vomit after eating meals and regularly used laxatives/diuretics.