My Safety Sponge

I quite admire many aspects of my personality—my ease with conversation, myability to evoke laughter, and even my humbleness, though it isn't exactly spotlighted right now. I have grown into someone that I think my father's soul is very pleased with. Perhaps my favorite quality is the thing I like to call my chameleon-ness. I find myself constantly bouncing off people, adapting to their personality quirks and aversions. With some, it's always chuckles, while with others, it's deep discussions that are the jackfruit meat and dairy free potatoes your eyes are picking at right now. Maybe that's why I'm always the first one to jump to tofu's defense—it's the chameleon food, catered to your tongue's desires. All it wants to do is soak up the flavors of your choice while humanely filling your belly with nutrients. Tofu has never let me down.

Comfort food is something that perplexes me. It shouldn't, but the imbalance of chemicals in my brain has created a PowerPoint presentation, or maybe even a Prezi, to convince me that food is the enemy that causes my stress. Call her Ana-- she's nothing like that kind professor, or those gentle pals from middle school. She's the eating disorder that almost killed me. Food could never be comfortable, she wouldn't allow it. Food drove me to unease. It was the third day of my hospital stay for the medical re-stabilization program tucked away in the ED unit. The hospital was very poorly planned. I'd like to speak to the individual that placed women with dead reproductive systems next to the newborns who still had a chance. Each time the twinkle down the hall welcomed a new child, we cried. It was the second meal of the day. The first 15 turned my cruelty-free belly into a toxic wasteland of stale cake-like eggs, slobs of fatty flesh, cream-soaked off-brand noodles, and red meat that tasted like tires. Each plate brought a new challenge. How will I shove this foreign body onto the piled carcasses in my shrunken tummy? How will I comfortably relieve myself of these unbearable stomach cramps? The watch dog peers into the door purposefully left ajar—no ma'am, I haven't fallen, I haven't escaped; it's removal, not rejection.

At last, my dietitian caved. She couldn't perpetuate my restriction, but she could cut me a break from my murdered meals. I think that was the first time I smiled at that bloodhound sniffing out my pockets to keep me honest. I picked up my fork at a medium speed—no longer dauntingly slow to take up those 30 minutes, but Ana still slowed me down. Can't seem too eager, you're already too fat to have an eating disorder. My logic prevailed in those 28 remaining minutes. I plunged my fork into the pristine tofu with a steamed broccoli tree to match. I used my ketchup allowance for the pocket of eggs that morning, so the virgin soy was my only option. I never thought I could mend the broken relationship I had with food, but my safety sponge graced that day with hope. It was the first meal that protected me from the somber delivery of the intimidation drink. No 15 minutes to either survive or get tubed. That safety sponge absorbed my fears; it remained untouched, but I can promise you, it had a flavor profile I never thought I could achieve.

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