Recipe for a Girl

I came home for the weekend, it was my first year of University and I was stressed, anyone could see it. It was difficult to conceal my pores had reacted to my clogged up brain by clogging up themselves. My facial expression was constantly concerned, resembling that of a maniac. My movements were erratic and always rushed, and my eyes were sunken into a face that had lost all of its roundness and no longer portrayed the innocence of plush cheeks and wide bright eyes that I had once been praised for. Now I was skeletal. Everything extraneous, the pieces that made up the essence of my former self had been sacrificed. My mother saw me and my look of concern was reflected in her eyes, it was her overwhelming anxiety and narrative of the “worry list” that had developed my perpetual unease. She knew that this was the person she would be greeting when I phoned her last night with a wavering and frustrated voice.

She began describing all the medicine that she had been preparing since I had hung up the phone the night before. “Here, I have butternut squash soup, which I know is your favourite, and I made quinoa and roasted vegetables. And I know you haven’t been eating meat but I made some beef stew because you need to make sure you are getting enough protein, but I also made some lentil burgers in case you don’t want the meat. There’s brownies and ice cream for desert and I bought your favourite type of popcorn. The soup is actually a new recipe, I found it online….” And so it went on, while I silently screamed for help, she continued on in the only way she knew how, presenting me with what I hated the most, the substances that shackled me. Food was my oppressor and her way of showing love.

She never said anything about my size, weight or appearance. She only spoke in the measurements of recipes. She never knew that I was stricken, starving, causing myself such damage. She never asked. Instead, she gave me pies.

She understood pies, in order to create them successfully you just needed to follow the directions, obey the amounts and the stirring tactics and sure enough you would create the expected and satisfying product. With her daughter she had also followed the recipe: help her with her homework, push her to get straight A’s, keep her from risky situations, and be sure she never defies you or authority. She had done everything right, worked to mould the perfect little girl, but the soufflé fell.

So she turned away and kept to the recipes she understood.

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