My parents decided to send me to the public Bulimia Recovery Clinic over in Toad Suck, Arkansas the day they caught me with my fingers down my throat in the bathroom: "ew", they said, handing me a toothbrush to purge instead. "Ew" I responded, flinging the store-brand piece of crap to their feet. They promptly withdrew me from my private clinic after that.
At first, it wasn't easy being at a public Clinic—too many bulimics. One day all six clinic toilets got clogged, because me and this girl Jenna were purging so much that we threw rocks in them, to protest against having only six toilets to do this much purging. It didn't work so we threw in more rocks to protest against not having enough rocks, which didn't work either but at least I had made a friend. "I think you're beautiful just as you are", me and Jenna told each other that night, because it is important to make your friends laugh.
Our other friend Karen was the one who finally got us serious about recovery, pointing to all the inspirational things in the hallway, like the window that looked directly onto the nearby Anorexia Recovery Clinic named after her. At first we joked that she was rough around the edges, but Karen vowed that soon we'd call these bones. She taught us all the weight loss tricks, like chewing very slowly on our fingers until they got all mangled and couldn't hold a fork anymore, or just not eating. In a way, we thought of her as an older sister: always there to dry our tears when things got hard, because tears are salty and salt retention increases water weight.
When Mom and Dad came to pick me up from the clinic, they said I had lost so much weight they almost didn't recognize me and they held Jenna in a tender embrace. Although I was a little disappointed that my own parents thought I'd just change my hair, style, and skin color like that without telling them, I forgot all about it when we finally reunited. Their eyes were glimmering with pride: "25 pounds, just gone!" they beamed as I packed part of my bag into a second, smaller bag.
And though they both high-fived me for the baggage fee cuts, I couldn't help but feel disappointed at how cheap my parents had become as they signed me in to the public Anorexia Recovery Clinic right across the hall.