Dear Mom, Who Stood by Me Through My Eating Disorder
Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.
“I think I have an … eating disorder.”
I uttered those words last September, a wave of shame and relief washing over me. You looked at me in disbelief. You had been concerned to see my weight keep dropping, even though I had reached my supposed goal weight. But to say it aloud was something else altogether.
When you weighed me a month later, my weight had dropped to the lowest in my life. I was elated; you were alarmed. A neighbor had asked you, “Is your daughter ill? She has lost so much weight.” Then I started treatment, a push to slowly increase calories. That is when you began to really see the demon — anorexia nervosa. You have told me you can see the demon on my face. I can’t imagine what those first few months were like. My dad and sister commented on how gaunt I was. “I don’t even know who she is anymore,” said my dad. But you felt the wrath of anorexia more than anyone else. You were responsible for feeding me, making sure week by week I followed my meal plan and consistently increased my calories. That I actually started weight restoration.
I was consumed by anorexia, so much I barely remember this time. The double life I had been living had come out. Anorexia was furious for being challenged at its dangerous game. All of the demon’s rules were being broken so I could weight restore, get healthy, stay out of the hospital.
You stood by me as I sullenly ate my dinner, isolated myself in my room after dinner, remained irritable and stressed, pushed myself to keep exercising unhealthily, refused food, came up with excuses. You looked into the eyes of the demon every day. You said, “no more secrets.”
Slowly, I began to think and feel more clearly. I saw and continue to see much the demon has hurt you. That is something I deeply regret, something which makes me hate the anorexia every day.
Anorexia still has a hold on me. It knows what makes me vulnerable, and a few weeks ago, it wanted to drag me into a full relapse. That is when my therapist wanted to call you. She said, “Your mom is your support. She is your team. You need her right now.”
So thank you, Mom. Without you, I would have been hospitalized. Without you, I would not have made it this far. I know I have a long journey ahead of me. I know anorexia is doing anything in its power to keep its hold of me. But I have something to fight back — you.
I want a real relationship, not a double life. Laughter, sometimes tears, encouragement, afternoons spent together. You are bringing me out of the darkness, a darkness I still feel every day. For that, I am forever grateful.
Happy Mother’s Day.
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Thinkstock photo via Mike Watson Images