I’m good with numbers. In fact, I like to think I’m pretty exceptional when it comes to working with numbers. My mental arithmetic is pretty on point, which comes in handy at my IRL paying jobs: running an Etsy store, working at a bakery, and tutoring high school students. It definitely speeds up the cash handling process, and I guess it’s what landed me the tutoring gig in the first place. Helped me to develop a pretty kickass budget too.
But numbers can be damaging. Oh, how they can damage me. Not only are they a refuge – doing complicated calculus in my head calms me down – but they’re also dangerous. The written word isn’t my most dangerous outlet (although, I suppose that’s a little dangerous too); the real danger lies in the numbers.
This danger, coupled with perfectionistic traits, low self-esteem somewhat satisfied by solving complex equations, and an imagined loss and consequent need for control, was the spark to my anorexia. Watching numbers drop is its own form of complicated mathematics. Calories in and calories out. Multiplication and division, addition and subtraction.
Thanks brain. Mental illness has hijacked yet another one of those handy life skills.
The other problem with numbers is a little like the problem of evil – once the numbers are known, they are impossible to forget. And that is why, even though my weight is restored, the struggles against that fucking voice are just as hard as they always were. Calories in and calories out. Multiplication, division. Addition, subtraction.
Words aren’t the weapon for me, although they make a mighty sword at times. The real problem is with the numbers.