Patrick knew that he wouldn’t recover all at once, and he knew there would be setbacks, he just wished there wouldn’t. He had come so far, able to eat most of his meals without second thought, he hadn’t weighed himself in months, he had put on a healthy amount of weight, and for the most part he could eat and feel normal while doing it. He had come so far, and yet he still had his relapses. Sometimes they came without a warning, and he would suddenly in the middle of a meal feel nauseous thinking about all the calories he was consuming. Other times it got triggered. He hated that he now had become ‘one of those people’, that he had to ban himself from certain conversation topics or certain tv-shows, even certain foods could remind him of those times. And sometimes he could fight through it, but other times he got sent right back into the old thought patterns, and had to fight getting back out of that hole before he let it take over his life again.
It hadn’t been anything big. They had just had a photoshoot, and had ordered food to celebrate a day dressed in uncomfortable, ‘fashionable’ clothes was over, and they were reviewing the pictures as they did before any of them got published. At some point they got talking about how their old photoshoots were and what ridiculous clothes they would wear then. This caused them to go on google in order to try and find some of the insane ones they remembered. But while all the others were looking at the old pictures from years before the hiatus, Patrick’s eyes were drawn to the dozens that were of right after the hiatus, and he couldn’t help but marvel at how much thinner he was back then. While the other laughed at questionable fashion choices and insane haircuts, Patrick’s thought were encapsulated by; ‘that shirt doesn’t fit anymore’, ‘those pants were two sizes smaller than the ones you are currently in’, ‘that type of outfit would never look good on you now’. Those thoughts cause him to do something he knew he shouldn’t. He drew back from the others, acting like he was now bored of the conversation, and pulled out his own phone, open on google. He knew that he shouldn’t, but he seemed unable to stop himself from typing his own name in the image search. Obviously recent pictures popped up, as well as really old ones, but his eyes were drawn to the ones where his hair was blond, he wore a suit and his body was at the thinnest it had ever been captured. He kept scrolling marvelling over how skinny and good he had looked back then. Of course he had been far from pleased with his body back then, but in this moment he would do anything to have that body back. He even found a ‘before’ ‘after’ edit from some tabloid, that showed how his body had changed from before the hiatus to in the midst of it, a masochistic part of Patrick's mind imagined a version where his current body would be added afterwards. A warning to the kids; never stop fighting even when it seemed like your goal have been met, otherwise you will end up like Patrick’s ‘weight loss’; right back at square one.
Patrick heard his name being called, and he snapped out of his thoughts and quickly put his phone back in his pocket. The takeout had arrived, and Andy and Joe were leaving to go eat in their own bus, leaving Patrick alone with Pete and the takeout.
Patrick looked down at the burger he had thought was a good idea when they ordered. Not only was it big and greasy, but he had ordered extra cheese and fries with it. It did look delicious but Patrick felt more and more nauseous, the more he looked at it. He had already eaten breakfast and lunch today, both average sized meals. How the hell could he justify eating this as well? He had eaten more than enough for today, what made him think he deserved to eat this meal? Maybe- maybe it was okay. Maybe his metabolism had worked together instead of against him this time, and he hadn’t gained any weight today. He should go to the bathroom and weigh himself before he ate, then he could know if he deserved the burger. Oh, but there wasn't a scale here, he had been banned from bringing one with him on tour, and besides he hadn’t been weighing himself that often these days. He didn’t have a strong idea about how much he usually weighed now, and he couldn’t really compare it to when he had weighed himself at least daily, he would have to starve for months to drop down to that weight again, he was sure. Okay so no weighing. No matter what he couldn’t eat the whole thing, no way, not even if he threw it all up again afterwards or didn’t eat for all of tomorrow. They had a show tomorrow night, and throwing up always messed with his voice long after so he couldn’t do that. He had to eat at some point tomorrow if he wanted to make it through the show without fainting. Maybe he could cut it down to a small lunch and then maybe an apple before he went onstage, then he should be able to make it through the shown if he drank enough water. Maybe he should bring some lemonade with him onstage, then that could bring up his blood sugar if he started feeling dizzy. That could work, but it still wouldn’t justify eating the whole meal. Maybe he could just eat half of it. Maybe eat all of the fries and then a bit of the burger then he could claim to be full. But that was still too much. The fries could be easy to hide if Pete was even mildly distracted, but the burger was a bigger problem. He couldn’t just throw it out when Pete went to the bathroom, it would be easy to spot in the trash can even if he hid it. He could throw it in a trash can outside, but then he had to find an excuse to go out there, because there was no way he could do that unnoticed. He could act like he didn’t want the pickles in the burger and pick them out maybe scrape some cheese off along the way, maybe act like some other stuff also ‘accidentally’ fell out of the burger. Then he could act like he wasn’t hungry after eating half of the burger and the amount of fries he couldn’t hide away. It was still a bit much to eat for Patrick's taste, but he couldn’t think of any better solution. Maybe he coul-
Patrick was pulled out of this thoughts as Pete lightly slapped his hand.
“Hey! none of that, stop it!” Pete said sharply and interrupted Patricks intense frown that had been directed at the burger for at least the last minute.
Patrick looked up at Pete, surprise in his face. “I know what you were thinking and I’m telling you right now: you deserve to eat, you are allowed to eat, and you should eat that entire burger, because it’s delicious and you are hungry. Nothing else should matter”. Trust Pete to know exactly what to say, but the thoughts were still raging in Patrick's head, panicking over the weight they were sure he was going to gain if he ate even a single bite. “B-but” Patrick started, not really having any valid arguments, but being unable to ignore the thoughts.
“No. No buts, there is no reason for you to not eat that entire burger. So now; eat” Pete turned promptly back to look at the tv the tone in his voice signalling finality, there was no way Patrick could argue his way out of this one.
Even though Pete wasn’t looking directly at him, Patrick knew that he was being observed, no amount of hidden food would escape Pete’s attention. And he could forget anything about going to the bathroom alone for the next couple of hours. Even if Patrick knew that he was observed, he was glad that Pete wasn’t looking directly at him. He hated eating when he felt people where looking at him. Even if he knew they were just looking out for him and making sure that he actually ate, he could never silence the voice that told him they were judging. Told him that they were looking at what he ate and how much he ate and thinking, ‘oh, so that’s why he is so fat’. He hated that feeling, the feeling that everybody was looking over him and judging every single thing he put in his mouth, as though they could ever judge him more than he judged himself.
Patrick took a deep breath and tried to shake the thoughts out of his head. He took a second to reassure himself that it was fine and started eating, slowly at first as he still felt slightly nauseous despite his stomach rumbling and telling him his body was hungry. Patrick forced himself to pay attention to the movie that was on and try to not think about his slowly emptying plate. It took some time but after a while he could eat without being hyper aware of it. Before he knew it his plate was empty but his stomach was full, as it should be. Pete didn’t mention it, but Patrick did catch the proud smile as Pete cleaned up both of their empty plates. And Patrick did receive a goodnight hug accompanied with a very quiet “I’m proud of you” mumbled in his ear. And Patrick ended up going to sleep happy and full, instead of staying up all night counting mistakes and calories.