I was getting A’s on all of my assignments, writing what would become a full-length play, and seeing massive amounts of theatre. I was basically living my dream.
Except for the part where the dream had become a nightmare. The fall semester dragged on, and I trudged through it, from gym to class to my increasingly prison-like apartment. Every play that I was required to see for class meant having to find a way to pack a healthy dinner for the trip to midtown, waiting for the infrequent uptown A-train past 10 pm, and a much-later-than-desired cereal binge before collapsing into bed for the few hours of restless sleep before my early morning wake-up. Every social engagement became more and more fraught–either it would lead to a late night and an overslept alarm, or it would force me to spend money on fattening, sugary, unhealthy foods. I became so good at making excuses that I actually started to believe them.
As my November deadline neared, I became more and more obsessed with my body image. I scoured health magazines and blogs, searching for the magic bullet that would tip the scales (har har) between “pretty fit” and “Jamie Eason.” Nothing took. I had plateaued at 125 lbs, and though I had some ab definition, I wasn’t presentable. In fact, I was a failure.
The depression sunk in with the winter air.
I spent every night on the phone with my Lysander, and our conversations were made increasingly more tense by my escalating depression and anxiety. His negativity about my grad program fed my negativity about my own self-worth, and now that I knew I wouldn’t even be able to impress him with my physique, I felt like I was somehow sub-human. I wasn’t fit to be this man’s wife. I was barely fit to live.
The thought that he would be seeing my body in just a few weeks made me absolutely sick to my stomach.*
Things came to a head in October. I called him after attending a talk given at the Shakespeare Society on Christopher Marlowe (my Elizabethan hero) because the professor who had been presenting agreed to consider letting me into his English-grad-student-only course on Shakespeare the following semester. It was a huge honor to even have him agree to speak with me, let alone consider letting me into his restricted class…by Lysander had nothing but disdain for this man and his credentials, as well as my desire to take the course in the first place.
I remember walking up Haven Ave. with my Blackberry plastered to my head, wind biting at my ears and hands, and saying, “I love you” before we hung up…and realizing, for the first time, that I didn’t mean it.
A few days, and an incoherent phone call (incoherent because I am too much of a codependent to have actually told him that I wanted to break up and because I was too busy crying to try to properly articulate myself) in which nothing was resolved, later, we were officially “not in a relationship” according to Facebook. I assumed that once I received that notification, I didn’t have to actually be the one to say, “Let’s end this before someone gets hurt.”
It was too late. ED was back and stronger than before.
*Please note that, at no point, did Lysander ever explicitly state that I had to look or be a certain way. At the time, I believed that it was implied and therefore a necessity. That was all constructed by my obsessive-compulsive, disordered friend ED, and probably nourished with some of Lysander’s off-hand, potentially passive-aggressive comments related to body image, measures of success, and the legitimacy of my graduate program.