Title: Not One of Them
Rating: PG-13 (language)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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