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I went clothes shopping by myself for the first time ever today. That’s not to say I frequently shop with others. Honestly, I am rarely involved in the acquisition of new clothing.

How’s that even happen? How does someone get dressed every day for 27 years, and have no idea what size clothes to buy or how to match anything up??

I think I know.

I’m tiny. Even without an eating disorder, genetically, I am very small. My cousin told me a while back, “it’s hard when you are the -est anything.” I was always the shortest, and often the smallest. My birthday is in the summer, close enough to the cut off, that I would inevitably be either the oldest or youngest in my class. I started kindergarten just days after turning 5 and watched every other kid in my class turn 6 throughout the school year. I was plenty smart enough, but so small that I repeated kindergarten to try catching up. Even as the oldest in my grade, I remained the smallest. In 2nd grade, they were doing some construction near our classroom. We had to walk through that very fine nasty black dirt, then across the white concrete to get inside. It didn’t take long for the other kids to notice that their shoes were stamping things like “2” “3” and “4” across the walkway while mine left an itty bitty “toddler university” behind my every step. They were horrible and called me “baby” left pacifiers in my desk and sang the Barney song all the time. I went home and cried every single night that year, and begged my parents to put “4” on my shoes.

But it was done. I was the oldest, the smallest, and the “baby” to the kids I’d spend the rest of my school years with.

In 3rd grade, the PE coach told me I had to have a SHARK watch if I wanted to be in the cool club (this does in fact seem highly inappropriate, and may not have been conveyed exactly in that manner, but that’s how I remember it). My dad drove me to about a million stores that night searching high and low for a SHARK watch so I could be in the cool club, only to be told over and over and over that they had nothing small enough. My mom gave me her Swatch watch and swore up and down that it would be cool enough… But, of course it wasn’t. There were only 8 girls in my class that year. During PE, my Swatch watch and I were made to play kickball with the boy, while 7 girls in the cool club sat with coach in the golf cart, drove around, got hugs and laughed.

I was the oldest, the smallest, the un-coolest.

I guess girls are supposed to take an interest in clothes at some point. But I never had to.

When we were kids, 3 sets of everything in 3 different colors would show up in our bedroom. The pink ones were mine, blue/purple for one sister, green for the other.

Eventually, everyone grew but me. So I’d wear my sisters’ old clothes. I’d get bags of clothes outgrown by friends. In high school, those bags started coming from the elementary schoolers I tutored. As an adult, there were clothes from my roommate’s two nieces, and still, occasionally from my sisters. My roommate loved to shop for me, she knew what size and all my rules- if you think I’ve got issues with food… Try dressing me!

Carmen and I have discussed at length, control and creating dependence in relationships. It can be simultaneously fulfilling and destructive.

I’m little, sweet, painfully shy, and extraordinarily complacent. It’s never been difficult to find people more than willing to “take care” of me. And I love being told what to do- Bikram is 90 minutes on not having to generate a single independent thought.

But nobody wants to be a total droid.

So, I make rules.

– I don’t eat things that are blue, I don’t eat more than x calories at one time, I don’t eat things that are crunchy, I don’t eat lettuce that is white, I only eat things that are sorted and lined up, blah blah blah

– I don’t wear clothes that are asymmetrical, have lace, are immodest, have dangly things, certain fabrics, blah blah blah

Now. I am extraordinarily complacent… As long as what you do fits within the confines of my convoluted system of rules that I expect you to memorize, so if you ask me to wear, eat, or do something outside of my comfort zone, it’s well within my grounds to flip the fuck out, and blame you.

My family has long catered to this system, my roommate, friends, everyone…

Today, I had to pick out my own clothes. And personally take on the responsibility of making sure they fit, felt good and maintained symmetry. If something didn’t work, resolving the issue was my job entirely.

These are the exact same issues I’ve been confronting with food, life in general, and moving past 8.

I’m finding that with the autonomy to make decisions for myself, I am less inhibited by my own rules. Freaking out about a compulsions gone awry, resolves very little when there is no one rushing in to save me.

I may still be tiny. But I’m far more capable than I think I’ve ever given myself credit for.

These thought may be completely disjointed, they are all on top of each other and inter connected in my mind, but extreme insightful… For me anyhow.

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