What I Lost to Staying Young

Going to boarding school didn’t seem like it was going to be so intimidating.

It was always something I knew I would have to do.

It never hit me that I was on my own 

Until my parents drove away

In that bright red rental car.

And all of a sudden I was in high school.

Except I couldn’t go home to them at the end of the day. 

I lived at high school.


I didn’t realize how helpless I was

How I lacked the independence I thought I always had.

How I’d never woken up on my own before 

Laundry was foreign territory.

I didn’t know how to study without my parents quizzing me.

Making friends all over again? I’d prefer to stay in my room.


The truth is

High school wasn’t as scary as high schoolers.

“You’re vegetarian and an athlete, so why aren’t you skinny?”

The girl across the hall probed one day.

I couldn’t think of an answer.

So my body became the one thing I thought I could control.

An illusion that led me to later question how I had been so naive that first fateful fall.

Two months in and it began to show.

My ribs contoured the shape of my torso.

My pants bagged in the back.

My face was pale

To the bone.

But no one ever said anything, or maybe they didn’t notice.

I did. 

Sustaining myself on seeds, apples and steamed collard greens.

The only secret I ever kept from my parents.

Is that what happens when you move away?


My sister finally came to me one night

While I was studying in the basement of the library

Where no one could find me.

I told her everything

And she comforted me.

But it didn’t change anything.


The day that my parents finally got it out of me 

Was the best and worst day of my life.

A blessing in disguise.

But how I had let high school creep into my head

Put its hands on the wheel

And push me into overdrive.

I wasn’t just admitting to them that I had a disease,

I was confessing my inability to live independently.


Next came the doctor’s appointments.

And the nutritionist.

And the counselor.

I couldn’t get away with this anymore.

I didn’t want to get away with this anymore.

But it was like my brain was split in half.

One side was telling me to count my calories.

And the other was telling me to grow up already and take care of myself.


90 doctors’ appointments

20 pounds

7 months

3 friends

2 parents

And 1 surgery later

I was back.

And I think I can say that I have endured the worst of my high school career. 

The little voice in my head trying to tell my how to live is still there

But she’s quieter now.

She’s no longer in control. Anorexia isn’t either.

I am in control.

And I know a lot more than the naive, scared fifteen-year-old

Who lost herself to the pressures of high school.

I know how to do laundry.

I know to go to bed early.

I know not to starve myself.

I know that friends make all the difference.

I know I can always count on family.

I know that it’s okay to grow up.


This poem is about: 
My family
Guide that inspired this poem: 
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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