Not One of Them

by Amanda

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Title: Not One of Them
Author: amandalynn125
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Genre: Angst
Spoilers: "Leech"
Summary: A night at an ED clinic. Chloe POV.

Disclaimer: I don't own Smallville or any of the characters.

A/N: If anyone from my group is reading this, it might seem like I am making fun of you, but I assure you I'm not, I'm just retelling my story as a different type of person.

Part One

This is the last place I ever expected to be. I'm sitting on the floor, 'Indian-style', with a bunch of stick-thin Barbie girls who are wailing about their controlling parents and the media's obsession with thinness. What the hell am I doing here? I'm not one of these people. I don't sit around blaming my problems on Cosmo and Daddy making me go to bed at eleven o'clock. I don't sit at the head of the group in a navy-blue visor (which are so over, by the way) and tell everybody else how to solve all their problems while skillfully avoiding talking about my own. I don't have anything in common with these self-absorbed, whiny little tweenagers. Except that I'm bulimic.
Even I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I'd hate to think that I'm so shallow that I tried to lose weight so Clark would like me. That would make me just like them. But is that why I did it? I don't know anymore. I'm the last person in the world who should fall victim to the beauty myth, the fashion fallacy. But as much as I'd like Pete and Clark to believe that I don't care about that stupid "girly stuff," I really do. I can't help it. Clark likes Lana because she's pretty. That's really the only positive quality she has! She's vapid, superficial, and far too self-pitying for my tastes, and I find it hard to believe that Clark really likes the little "fairy princess" for any reason beside her appearance. Sometimes I know that Clark forgets that I'm even a girl. I'm just one of the guys to him and Pete, the snappy, snarky cub reporter, always ready with the perfect comeback to every remark. Why does any girl who happens to be assertive, resourceful, and independent have to be labeled "unfeminine"? I swear, if I cut my hair any shorter the whole school would be calling me a dyke. Not that I have anything against lesbians, it's just not the way I happen to swing. Maybe it would be easier if I were a lesbian. Then I wouldn't have a crush on Clark. Maybe I'd have a crush on Lana.
Nah, no way. No fairy princesses for me. God, the girl with the lisp needs to shut her trap already. I mean, yeah, I know it's not nice to make fun of things people can't control, but she sounds ridiculous. And she never talks about anything but guys. I mean, I know she's only thirteen, but God! No wonder she's in special ed. "Chloe?" Liza says. "How are you doing, symptom-wise?" I've done a good job of avoiding Liza so far today. She's usually the first to tell me to knock it off with the sarcasm, and after that I tend to keep out of the conversations. But she's nailed me. "I'm fine," I mumble, knowing full well that I'm not fine. But hey, Kelly got away with that every freaking day, so why shouldn't I be able to? "Chloe, when do you plan on joining in with the group? Are you just going to sit there in the corner forever? Apparently you're not too thrilled with some of the girls, but if you keep resisting every effort we make to help you, we're going to have to discharge you from the group." I know what being discharged means. I'm not stupid, and I've spent plenty of time on the Web looking up the complications of bulimia. I know that not being here would be worse than actually being here. I know I don't want to die. But I don't know yet if I want to get better. I guess I first need to know why I got "sick" in the first place. I mean, I love my dad, I have dependable, true friends (one of whom I happen to be in love with, but whatever...), and I do well in school and have had plenty of success with the Torch, and even gotten a byline in the Smallville Ledger. I don't fit the ED mold. But I'm still bulimic.
"Chloe, do you ever let your defenses down?" asks Liza. "What defenses? Did no one bother to tell me that I'm wearing chain-mail?" The only other semi-sane girl in here laughs slightly, but gets a sharp glare from Amy, the dietician. "Chloe, sarcasm is a classic defense mechanism. I suspect you've buried your emotions so deeply under that sarcasm that you don't even feel them anymore." Psychology is such bullshit. Who does she think she is? I feel my emotions just fine, thank you. I'm in love with my best friend, who is in love with the prettiest and most popular girl in school. I know how to feel. I want to know how not to feel.
The short brunette whom I referred to as the "semi-sane one" pipes up. "You know what, Liza, you don't know everything." "No one said I did, Tara," Liza shoots back. "You act like you do! Let Chloe be who she is. So what if she's sarcastic? Not everything is a defense mechanism." "Tara, your anger is a defense mechanism. As is your penchant for tackling the problems of others rather than focusing on yourself." Tara glared at Liza and said nothing, but I knew exactly what was in her head. Fuck you. It was something I wanted to say in almost every session. Oh, yippee, it's time for dinner.

Dinner. Even though we have everything in the hospital cafeteria to choose from, I always get the same thing. Tuna salad sandwich, salad, apple juice, and frozen yogurt. It's simple, it's stuff I like, and it keeps me from pigging out. I really don't know what happens when you overeat here. It's not something that's ever come up. Come up. Ha.
We're not allowed to go to the bathroom after dinner, but anyone with a brain can just go out to the bathrooms in the other wings after group's over and do whatever they want. I know Tara's done it. I know Tara's even done it in the bathroom before dinner. If anyone needs to be discharged, it's her. But she started at the same time I did, and I don't think they're ready to give up on her yet. I like her. She's opinionated and not afraid to stand up to Liza or Amy. She's been around the block a time or two, it seems. She's always alluding to problems bigger than her eating disorder. I wish I could be friends with her, but I don't feel like I have anything in common with her either. I really don't know why I'm here.
I mean, in literal terms, I know why I'm here.

We were sitting in the cafeteria on a normal day. Little did I know that that day would probably affect the direction of the rest of my life. Everybody was still talking about Eric Summers. But, as usual, Lana passed by us on her way to the "popular" table. And as usual, Clark's tongue rolled out of his mouth and onto the table in front of us. I have no idea what it is about her that makes Clark lose control of all his senses, but I remember wishing that I could have that ability for just one moment. To have that kind of power over the opposite sex. To have that kind of power over anyone, really. I remember finishing my lunch in a daze, snarking half-heartedly with Pete about the upcoming rematch between Whitney and Brent and Pete and Clark. After cracking a joke about the agony of defeat, I suddenly was overcome by the urge to get up and get rid of everything I had just eaten. I really do wish I knew why I had done it, because then maybe I'd be able to stop. But it just overtook me, and I walked calmly into the bathroom and stuck my finger down my throat. It wasn't as easy as I thought it was. It took me a while to get everything out. It made me see stars. I stood up, my head spinning. My nose ran and my throat burned. I walked to the sink and washed out my mouth. It wasn't the best experience I'd ever had--in fact; it wouldn't have made my top million list of good experiences. But part of me felt relieved, almost proud. I hope to God I wasn't thinking that I would soon be as thin as Lana and Clark would start to notice me, but I'm always afraid that that was the precise thought that took over my mind that fateful day. Well, that, and the thought of that pink prom dress. It fit me just fine, but I was so unused to dresses like that. Maybe I was afraid I wouldn't fit into it when the time came. But I was probably more afraid that I'd never have the chance to wear it. When was Clark going to realize that I was more than just Chloe the reporter? That I could also be Chloe the prom date?
If this really is all about Clark and my insecurity about my femininity, I'll shoot myself. I'm Chloe Sullivan. I'm above all that antiquated chivalry bullshit. I know I am. At least, I think I am.
What if I'm not really what I thought I was? What if I've just created this elaborate security system to protect me from reality? Specifically, the reality that Lana Lang is the standard of demure feminine beauty in this town and that I'll never measure up to her. Am I really just like all of these other simpering bony maniacs who can't eat one single piece of lettuce without calculating all the calories in it? God, I hope I'm wrong.
God, I'm afraid I'm right.

After dinner it's time to set our goals for the week. My only goal is to get out of here. I don't need to be "self-nurtured." And I don't have weird eating behaviors, like the girl who will only eat organically grown carrots. I'm just your average sarcastic, witty, inquisitive teenage girl. With bulimia.
The intellectual side of my brain tells me to just eat and not worry about it. I don't know why I can't just loosen up and listen to that side, but I can't. Something is making me ride the porcelain bus after every meal, and I don't know what it is. Or maybe I do, and I don't want to admit it. I know I have a problem. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here. I checked myself into this program voluntarily. No one held a gun to my head and told me I had to go to the hospital and get better. And I wasn't one of those emaciated skeletons with 0% body fat that passes out daily and has a minor heart attack every time she stands up. No, I was just a normal-weight girl who ate everything she could get her hands on and then vomited until she saw blood.

The first binge just snuck up on me before I knew what was happening. Dad was working late at the plant and Pete and Clark were at the Kent Farm practicing for Thursday's jock extravaganza--I mean, "pickup basketball game." I was all alone in the house, and I was just innocently looking through the fridge for a soda when all hell broke loose. I just started reaching desperately for anything and everything I could eat. Yogurt, cold cuts, cheese, leftover pizza...I cleaned out the fridge and moved on to the cupboards. Cereal, crackers, chips, pretzels, granola bars--I was shoving food into my mouth with both hands, barely stopping to chew. All I knew was that I had to eat, and eat, and eat. I wasn't even paying attention to how my body felt about it. I knew I should have been sick to my stomach--sick enough to stop--but I wasn't. I felt like I was an honest-to-God bottomless pit. I wanted to eat forever. And then I realized it would make me fat. I raced to the bathroom and shoved the toilet seat up so fast I nearly cracked it. Down went the fingers and up came everything I had just eaten. Most of it hadn't been digested and looked--and tasted--much as it had going in. I stood up to rinse my mouth, feeling the heady rush that the vomiting always brought. It was as close as I'd ever come to being high. I felt satisfied with myself, even though I knew that what I'd just done was sick and wrong. I knew I was slowly losing control of myself, but I didn't know why. I wasn't your typical ED case. I wasn't your typical anything. Or at least I liked to believe that.
"Chloe, what are your goals this week?" Damn her. Damn all of them. "My goal is to get the two of you off my back," I snap before I can stop myself. Tara smiles at me. "Chloe, I don't appreciate your hostility." "Fine, then. My goal is to eat everything I can get my hands on and then puke it back up. At least I can be honest about it," I retort, glaring at the other girls in the circle until they look away in shame. Only Tara meets my gaze and holds it. She understands. She's the only one who does. Liza sighs and moves on. I grin slightly, and Tara grins back knowingly. I wish I were sitting closer to her. After the session is over Liza asks to see Tara and me in her office. I feel like I'm back in sixth grade getting detention for talking to Clark during math class. I follow Tara into Liza's tiny, darkened office. "Tara, Chloe, you are both disrupting the group with your destructive comments and behavior. If this continues I will be forced to discharge you both." I know I can't afford to be discharged. If I'm discharged and left on my own, I don't think I'll ever stop. A quick glance at Tara tells me that she's thinking much the same thing. Tara nods. So do I, hesitantly.
"I expect you both to show up tomorrow ready to make some progress. If you can't do that, don't bother coming at all." I feel like I'm alone in the gondola of a hot-air balloon. Three of the four anchor ropes have been cut, and Liza's just frayed the fourth. And once the balloon gets off the ground it's never coming back down. I have to do what she says. I have to come back tomorrow and work. I have to come back tomorrow and admit that I'm in love with my best friend. I have to come back tomorrow and admit that I want to look like Lana Lang. And with that, I will destroy everything I thought I was.

It's show time.
Here goes nothing.
I walk into room 1224 with my head held high. I meet Liza's gaze with a stony glare of my own, and sit down without saying a word. I'm here to stay. If only to spite Liza and Amy and everyone else. I know I should be here because I want to get better. I know I need to get better, but that's different than wanting to. But I'm not just going to walk out of here. I can't afford to.

Luckily for me guys are pretty much oblivious to everything. I'd managed to keep Pete and Clark from noticing my trips to the bathroom after lunch, and often ate in the Torch office so they wouldn't see the huge amount of food I was eating. But I guess I was a little narrow-minded, because they did notice. And they worried about me. They suspected I had an eating disorder, and were trying to figure out the best way to approach me about it. There's not much I can say about the way they chose; only that I assume it worked a lot better on paper than it did in reality.

"Chloe, we think you have a problem."
"What?" It just came out of nowhere.
"Chloe, you haven't been yourself lately. You've been avoiding us. You're always going to the bathroom after lunch. You go off and eat by yourself at the Torch." "Only because you guys are too busy Air Jordan-ing it to hang out with me." "Chloe, hold out your hands."
"What?" This was absurd.
"Hold out your hands."
I sighed and did as they asked. And I knew they would see just what they expected to see--the scrapes and cuts on my knuckles and the ragged, brittle fingernails. "Chloe, we're your friends and we want to help you, and we can't do that unless you tell us the truth. Are you bulimic?" I jumped out of my seat, my sarcastic tirade all ready and aimed to fire, when something completely unexpected happened. I threw up, completely unintentionally. All over the table. And it was mixed with shimmering scarlet blood.

So now I sit in this room three days a week, relearning how to eat and take care of myself. But it's not working. I still binge. I still purge. I still am just not ready to give it up. And I still don't know why I do it.
Or else I do, and I just don't want to admit it. It kills me to sit there that night, in the circle, as Liza looks straight into my eyes and says, "Chloe, I want to check in with you." Everyone turns to me. I feel like President Clinton in front of the grand jury. For once in my life, I have completely, utterly, no clue what to say. And then it just comes out.
"I just want Clark to like me."

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