Our recovery, 7 years next month, continues. “We” are recovering from our daughter’s eating disorder. I say “we” and “our” because, as anyone who has ever supported a loved one through the hell that is an eating disorder knows, it is not a solo act. We suffered, we worried, we were beat up, beat down and financially overloaded. We were treated, therapied, observed and minimalized…..
For the first 4 years, maybe a little more than that, every time I looked at this young woman who is my “child” I saw ED, I scrutinized her eating habits, watched if she was drinking, wandered into the living room if she was in the bathroom….just listening…..I can not imagine how stressful that must have been for her, because as stealth as I thought as I was, I am sure there were red lights blinking all around me that said ” Im watching!” She backslid a few times, as addicts are apt to do. Alcohol became her refuge = and it almost took her down. One last relapse, ugly and raw and painful finally seemed to click the button in her head that said “Stop this shit” .
For the past three years it has been easier for me, and I think for her, to accept and celebrate the fact that she is not mentally ill. She is not lurking in the hall with a disorder that will raise its head any minute and cause her to stuff her fingers down her throat. She is healthy, happy, married and the mother of two wonderful children. Last weekend, at her niece’s birthday party she climbed the monster maze with the kids, laughing and helping and exposing herself to the room as an athletic, strong woman. My heart smiled. It is so good to have her back. Most of the time, when I say “have you eaten?” its because it is meal time and I have food…not because I am worried that she is restricting, or binging. And most of the time she responds “yes” or “no” and moves forward. No more dirty looks, angry responses or denials. It is so good to have her back. Eating Disorders are getting a lot of attention currently. It is “Eating Disorder Awareness Week” as I write this. There is a lot of research on the “why” of eating disorders… is it social media, is it genetic, is it an emotional illness or a physiological problem? I don’t know. In our case there were signs that she had trouble dealing with stress, there was trauma in college and a roommate that was bulimic. There was an abusive boyfriend and an overbearing mother…..
But now, there is health. She was treated at a wonderful center, and came home to us on the road to recovery. She chose to live, to thrive. I don’t know where that strength came from but I thank God every day that she tapped into it. I am so glad she is here.