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.

54 comments:

doug said...

First!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

doug said...

And Second!!!!!!!!!!!!!

doug said...

And Third!!!!!!!!!!

Now lets see what that post was about. hehehe

Shubby Doo said...

this is a great write up on a sad topic...

just wanted to say...she might not have heard u then...women with such a disorder find it difficult to hear others...no matter how close the person talking to them/cradling them is...

i hope she (& anybody else that needs to hear this)is able to listen now

p.s
you need to submit this

Shubby Doo said...

@doug - no way...here was me taking time to compose something just 4 u to steal my position...me i don vex!

Ms.O said...

you are sooo talented with words. Its amazing how women with BDD never se the real them...

Hope you good..:)

doug said...

Okay thats a sad one. You made a proper tragedy appear even more tragic. I wish we all kept those adjectives in mind...

doug said...

@Shubby: Eyaaaa sorry ehn. I just had to do it. I never get to do it. Don't worry, God dey.

naijalines said...

Bulimia has got to Nigeria - the land of opeke curves? OMG!!!

Nefertiti said...

OMG! In Naija too? This is the peak of insanity.

*Sigh... I hope your friend realises before it's too late.

Once again I am amazed at how beautifully you articulate your thoughts. You strike me as being much older than you are- Perfection.

Osondu Nnamdi Awaraka said...

This is good oh! Very good...very very Good.

poeticallytinted said...

We should learn to say these words 'I love you' more often.
Beautiful words NDQ

Ms.O said...

I sent you an email!!

olu said...

Throwing up after meals? Geez, thats the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a minute. Even here in Nigeria? Darn!!

Your title for this post is apt and your writing is flawless (as always). Can't you just wrong, even if its once? ::smiles::

NoLimit said...

All I can say right now is wow!
My eyes were glued to the screen till the very end...
Touching post...

AnyaPosh said...

Kai...nawa for that doug guy o...OVERACHIEVER lol.

But back to your post, this friend of yours is doing all the wrong things. She's not puking enough, she's not drinking enough, and she's not fasting enough.

I say this because she hasn't puked to the level of trauma induced fainting spells. She hasn't drank enough to the point where her liver cannot combat the toxicity of alcohol on an empty stomach. She hasn't fasted enough till the point her stomach rips open from the starvation induced ulcers she has probably developed.

Harsh.

In these kinds of cases, the person has to go thru a re-education of what it means to be a woman, a real woman in this century.

You cannot help her.

She must undergo learning phases that can only come from critical self-reflection - by herself. Not substance abuse methods or guilt-induced.

You mustn't be judgemental. Love her. These kinds of people need all the LOVE the world can offer.

P.S, I didn't know these eating disorders were prevalent in nigeria that they would be even studied. wow

Zena said...

You amaze me more and more NDQ,

This was a wonderful post

I run out of words these days

Just...Toluwa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Just...Toluwa said...

very nice post!

Miss Definitely Maybe said...

wow you have a way with words thats really powerful, can relate to your friend, once upon a time I was probably her...and to Olu, its not called ridiculous its called an illness.

ShonaVixen said...

gurl...i love your work with words...and such a touching story, have a friend who was bullimic, and clearly understand what they go through...she's healthy now, but there was a time i scared for her, had to always assure her that she wasnt unpretty but a beautiful black woman!!
Loved this post!!xoxo

Kofi Bofah said...

That picture is not cute.

Starving oneself to conform is definitely not beautiful.

TheAfroBeat said...

The courage to speak up and reach out to a friend suffering from an eating disorder is something we should all pray for if we have such a person in our lives. I have played the silent friend before and afterwards, one is left with the "what if's" as food for thought.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

simeone said...

interesting, but not funny...
you are so crafty..person, animal palce or thing

bArOquE said...

my dear rebound, sometimes you're just a correct person...this is a beautiful presentation of the topic

...the need to be BEAUTIFUL... (lets leave LOVED out of this)

Uzezi said...

very sad.

~Sirius~ said...

Unfortunately most times it's only a near death experience that can change her lifestyle, I went down that lane once, and mine wasn't even that extreme, but I'm happy I woke up ontime, Nothing anybody said to me made me think of stopping, as far as I was concerned I could see myself in the mirror and I was "fat" (so i thought) and that's the sad part :-(

yankeenaijababe said...

Are you kidding about your birthday being on Thanksgiving? Wow!!! I hope you have a good one.sha, no stress over Thanksgiving cooking. Leave something for YNc.lol

doll said...

In Nigeria here? Am surprised

Standtall said...

I love your style of writing. This is really expressive. BDD seems not to be common in Nigeria. I hope am right.

How I wish things like this dont exist

geisha.song. said...

i absolutely love love loved the way you wrote this. so simple, so powerful, so heartfelt.

its a shame how weight obsessed nigerians have become. however im not quite sure the nigerian statistics are entirely accurate.

miz-cynic said...

i had one girl bck in boardin sch dat usd 2 do dat.pretty,infact very pretty fine fair girl. but u knw in sch dn peeps did a lot of silly tns like 2 girls caugt kissing at d quadangle

seye said...

I SHOULD FREAKING CONVERT THIS TO A POEM! IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL! SO BEAUTIFUL, and so sad!

Well written NDQ

Original Mgbeke said...

This babe you sabi write o. Nice one! You broke it down well..
Very sad stuff indeed...

THE HOUSE OF STYLE said...

Girl you if I knew you in person and could get my hand on some of your writing,I would take it straight to a publisher! Now unto the subject matter...
Baby girl that is some SERIOUS statistic right there!!! No kidding? This is seriously sad,sad because it is so destructive and serious as it aint a take two pills three times a day kinda of illness/condition.It requires serious pyscho-theraphy etc to get down to the root of the issues fueling the body dysmorphia,anorexia and bulimia.
Plus it is so misunderstood back home.Goodness 13-17 year olds? that young?thats too sad,their bodies are not even fully formed yet.Media,fashion and the sterotypical body images we keep championing have a lot to answer to as well.
so sad.
Not many have the talent to invoke emotions with words,keep using yours my dear.
Muah
Marian.

baby girl you looking forward to your big day?;o)

Buttercup said...

It really is sad how soceity indirectly kills us..

Well done boo!

Gia Shakur said...

This hit very close to home for me

Timmy said...

lovely post....really, i enjoyed it. I never really used to like to read anything relating to BDD, cos my mum and sis used to think i had anorexia..because i love to exercise and wear a size zero.

munhu said...

OMG...you have a true talent and it does not lie in your turn of phrase...it lies in how empathetic you are...only one who feels pain can articulate it in this way...your friend is lucky to have you and you have already taken a huge step to helping her...we do not offer help because we can change a situation...we do so in order to be the catalyst that induces the required change...especially with people because they have their own minds.
This needs to be read in so many places and I pray it will !!!

bArOquE said...

its a ONE WORD only request, please oblige your rebound king...*wink*

on my blog, i.e

Aphrodite said...

I loved how you told this tale.
Good...really good.

She needs to know she is beautiful even if she is FAT.

flabby said...

i used to be bullimic at one time..only a short time..but it made me so ashamed

i wont say i was anorexic..but ive had a hate-love relationship with food

but dont we all?
at some point

Ms.O said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!

geisha.song. said...

it's your birthday?
well, if it is, have a great one!
oh, and btw i stand corrected... a lotta girls - according to the comments - seem to have had contact with anorexia or bulimia in some way or the other.
truly tragic.

guerreiranigeriana said...

...beautifully put together...i remember reading about this phenomena happening in naija and being utterly shocked...i wonder what is driving it?...i consider myself average and remember my cousin telling me i was too small and needed to gain weight as he and his friends like thicker girls...even my bros in the us have called me anorexic, in jest just to show that i could gain some weight...its amazing and sad what people will do to achieve/control...

...i especially love how you added the information at the bottom...nice touch...

NigerianDramaQueen said...

*To everyone: I'm so sorry I couldn't reply to every comment individually. However, I read all your words and I am especially touched by everyone who shared their experiences here or by email. To everyone that has had or is having similar experiences-know that you are not alone and you are enough...feel free to get at me by email...
Much Love,
Me.

Afrobabe said...

Well done babes...bravo...

Tisha said...

missed u
how are u?
i need ur permission to use one of ur article.
to ppost the url on my blog

thanks in anticipated approval

Queen of My Castle said...

Wow...I was not expecting this piece to evoke so much emotion.

Very talented you are.

NigerianDramaQueen said...

@Afrobabe: YAYYYYY YOUR BACK! Welcome back babes..I've missed you...and thank you:-)

@Tisha: Aww thanks for stopping by...yup your free to use an article:-)

@QOMC: Thank you very much:-)

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

so beautifully written sis... I cant even begin to imagine...

THE HOUSE OF STYLE said...

darling wish I could come in your suitcase!! Travelling bin style is always tricky what with cramped planes and long periods of sitting.I do suggest layered effortless pieces in non crease fabrics say like Jersey.It is fluid,is comfy to wear,drapes amazingly and stays crease free,so you look amazing at your destination!So depending on your style,it could be jersey tunic,dress with light jersey cardi or wrap or same feel top with jersey loose slacks or harem pants. Then bang on say a great fantastic chic accessories,
hope this helps dear!
muah
marian

ema! said...

love this piece...very sad and true too!!!

Randall said...

this is a great write up on a sad topic... just wanted to say...she might not have heard u then...women with such a disorder find it difficult to hear others...no matter how close the person talking to them/cradling them is... i hope she (& anybody else that needs to hear this)is able to listen now p.s you need to submit this