She had gone from seductive, fit temptress, to insecure, bulimic, depressed teenager in the span of no time at all. She supposed there had been some indicators—the heart beat in her ears, blocking out everything else; the slowing of her eyelids, everything blurring; her stomach doing an Olympic floor routine—but to someone who’s never slowly induced bulimia before, warning signs didn’t mean much. For the first time in her life, no one had held her hair back. For the first time, there was no comforting pat on the back, cold washcloth, or cup of cold water for her to sip at. It occurred to her that maybe this was part of growing up, this throwing up with no witnesses, this moment of complete weakness and submission to bodily functions. Part of becoming older was realizing there were times when yes, someone could be there, but because of something you had done, some way you had secluded yourself from the world, no one would be there. You would throw up a perfectly good Christmas dinner while life continued on beyond the door. And sit there, panting, slowly coming to terms with the fact that sometimes, the only one anyone had was themselves.
Do you understand, now? Now that you’re broken and worn down, your dignity and self-control and independence shattered, do you understand? You were not meant for the warmth, child. You were not meant to lie before the fire, underneath the covers, with someone. Your place is where others fear to tread: the lack of heat. The lack of comfort and familiarity and people. You belong in the cold, and believing anything else is denial. You’re free to deny all you want, of course, but there’s only so long until it catches up with you—oh wait. It already did. I did what had to be done. You understand now, don’t you?