Dear Mom and Dad: A Letter From Your Daughter in Eating Disorder Recovery

Dear Mom and Dad,

I love the idea of enjoying the holidays together but am feeling beyond anxious to see you.

My life update: I’m in recovery from an eating disorder. I’m newly on depression and anxiety medicine. I’m in therapy. This is the first time in ages that I’ve smiled regularly. That I’ve slept regularly. That I’ve felt like myself again. My weight has changed. I have new hobbies that are crafty and don’t involve exercise. I’m still learning how to talk about all this. You’re still learning how to understand it. I’m still learning what “normal” looks and feels like. So at this time of year, I just wanted to tell you how I’m feeling.

When I arrive, I’m nervous for how you’ll feel my body when we hug or look at me based on what I’m wearing or how my hair is fixed.

When I unpack, I’m nervous you’ll see the new medicine I’m taking and feel upset I didn’t tell you or judge me based on preconceived notions about the medicine and the illness.

When we eat together, I’m worried how you will look at my plate or how I will compare our food choices and portion sizes.

When you ask about my life, I don’t want to taint our time together to speak of how things are really going – recovery takes longer than I would have ever thought. It is an onion that peels through layer by layer. It is not straightforward. You didn’t cause this. I didn’t cause this. But this is a very real part of my life.

When you tell me about your life, I want to engage and hear what you’re saying. I want to listen to all the major updates, the littles things, the highs and lows. I want to be present. I came here to be with you. Sometimes this is hard. I’m easily distracted by my anxious thoughts, behaviors, and disordered tendencies. In my head, I may be elsewhere – counting calories, planning exercise, coping with unexpected triggers, and otherwise riding the roller coaster I feel within my brain.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

For this holiday season, I’m sorry I get anxious in restaurants. I’m sorry I don’t want to go shopping. I’m sorry we won’t do the Turkey Trot, Polar Plunge, or discuss what some article says to do to “stay fit during the holidays.” My goal is to just be “normal” with food and fitness. But I’m not there yet. I’ll get there. But I need your patience.

With love,

Your Healing Daughter

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo by Milenko Bokan

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