emma is a name that resonates with beauty, with simple sophistication.

it conjures thoughts of the jane austen novel, of my lovely friend at yoga, and actually, of gwendolyn’s birth name, as bestowed by the breeder.  i changed it from emma to gwendolyn because Sir Henry’s last name ended with ” – da.”  if i married Sir Henry, gwendolyn’s first and last names would rhyme.  i couldn’t do that to her.

when my friend gifted me with the pink elephant statue from the antique store that i’ve obsessed about for nearly a fortnight, i couldn’t think of the perfect name.  i thought, “what does one name an elephant?”

i suggested, “dominique, francesca, rosabella,” complying with my nine-letter name rule.  i have an obsession with the number nine.

and he suggested, “emma.”

then my brain took-over, “no no no, not emma.  four letters?  elephants are fat.  my yoga friend’ll think there’s a connection.  there’s not.  she’s so skinny.  but the statue is beautiful to me.  emma is fitting!  what will others think?  will they draw a connection?  am i poking fun at jane austen?  at my friend?  what do elephants eat?  how many peanuts?  calories?  did i eat more on binges?  so gross.  i ate more than an elephant.  i’m fat.  let’s pick francesca.”

and my friend promptly interrupted this inner, sickening dialogue.

he’s good at this.  he must have read my crazy mind.  in his reserved, philosophical way, he stated, “when i bought this elephant, my attention was drawn to its hind legs.  feel its legs.  observe its legs.  they’re muscular.  they’re strong.  when someone thinks of an elephant, they think of monstrosity.  they think of fat.  but this animal is strong.”

strong.  the verbiage of strong and healthy are not things that eating disordered minds fancy hearing.  strong and healthy are synonymous with fat, right?  how many of you have contemplated driving over a bridge after gaining a few pounds, a few pounds of muscle, after a bout with anorexia, of months of starvation, only to hear that you “look healthy” because you ate a few nutrition bars and lifted weights to please the “doctors?”

i still remember the time and place when that happened to me.  august of 1999.  at that point, i thought, “i’ve already screwed up my day of calories, so what the hell?  let’s keep going.”  and my bulimia surged out of control.  i kept eating.  then i got rid of it.  and i didn’t stop for 11 years.

recovery of the eating disordered person involves defeat of perceptions, stereotypes, and prejudices.  before announcing my bulimia through this blog, i interacted with the world as two people.  i was the happy yoga girl maintaining a normal appearance on the outside; but on the inside, i was the bulimic monster, constantly guessing about what other people thought of me, valuing my self worth on reading the minds of others.

why do we care?  why do we hurt our bodies and minds to please others, when, in reality, very few others actually care?  most of my friends didn’t understand bulimia until this blog, and many still do not.  other people are not concerned with what i’m eating and how much i’m exercising.  ’twas a lonesome world and battle that i created within myself.

in compliance with my theme on the real me, i encourage you to experience one day, interacting with society, turning off the toxicity that exists in the world, presenting your heart first, being KIND.  when conversing with your neighbor, don’t think, “she thinks i’m fat.  she wears a zero.  she’s older than me.  i have work to do, but i’ll get there.  i’ll show her.”  rather, think of something good about that person.  appreciate her.  and appreciate yourself.

and as for my elephant?  i named her emma.

© nicole marie story and nicoleandgwendolyn.com, 2011.