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To the Parental Figure Who Doesn't Understand My Eating Disorder

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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 741741.

Dear Parental Figure,

Together, we could write entire libraries or host whole film festivals on a lack of understandings of one another. At least that is how it feels when your understanding does not include who I see myself to be.

I was a child, and maybe you will always class me as your child, and to a degree I always will be.

I love you. You might question this at times and for that, I am sorry. I do try to speak your language of love even though you may not speak mine.

I am growing, as we all are, now some say that I am grown.

Parental figure, I have an illness and it is called an eating disorder.

No matter how society let you or made you deal with your problems, no amount of “just getting on with it” will ever see me “get over it.” This particular multifaceted problem is an illness, a disease, a disorder that has embedded itself in my thoughts, feelings and actions. There is no sustainable way to “just carry on” without the resources and support needed that won’t have me destroy everything that I am. Whether you like it or not, no one is as strong as you expect me, my siblings or yourself to be.

I know you care and I know you have problems showing it; that at many times your silence and forever disappearing presence is your way of caring. I know this and I accept this for I am done trying to change this, to change you. I know you care. I know you love but I must reason with myself to “know” this, I have rarely felt it and that is not on you, me or us.

It is. That is all it needs to be.

We do not need to understand each other as nice as that may be, and we don’t need to blame each other for this either.

Can’t you accept it?

Must you deny me my experiences through your quest of
straight-forward, black-and-white, all-or-nothing answers.

I can be ill and look — to you — “fine.”

I do need time to work through this even if “this” is non-existent to you.

I need your acceptance if you do not fully understand what
you are accepting.

Accept me even if you cannot label me, even if I do not fit into who you wanted me to be.

Must you keep your shoulder cold to me, must you probe me, must you try and dismiss me because you cannot understand me?

The illness that I have is as real as the bottom of the ocean, even if you have not ever found yourself walking it. I am fighting a strength that you see as much as you do gravity.

What I have, and therefore who I am because of what I deal with, is real even if you cannot know me.

Can you please stop invalidating me as a default for not being able to validate me, and instead try believing in me?

You may have broken my heart, but that doesn’t mean that you’re
not still in it.

I love you lots and wish that despite our differences, we will allow each other what is needed in order to grow.

Yours with all hope that these words may one day find you,

Your Child

Photo credit:Kladyk/Getty Images

Originally published: December 11, 2019
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