you just never know…

I had a meeting today with a VERY IMPORTANT LADY. I say that in caps. because it is true.  She is amazing, in her 60’s, spends her days volunteering, donating, supporting women’s causes.  She speaks her mind and swears at meetings.  I admire her more than I can say.

So today she came to my office to help me with a project.  we sat at the table together, and she said,  ” So, tell me about the kids….” I shared the ups and downs of my three, starting with the  oldest, working down to our youngest.  Shared that our youngest child’s battle with and victory over, bulimia had shaped the last 9 years of my life, had given me renewed purpose.  When I finished, she looked me dead in the eye and said ” I had that”.  She went on to share her own battle with binging and purging, and how, for a time, she felt she had discovered the greatest thing — eating without calorie increase.   We discussed how, and why, she had stopped.  How she had committed herself to healthy eating, but still, over 40 years later, struggles with binging and then being disgusted with her lack of “control”.  We spent almost 2 hours sharing viewpoints, research, ideas and dreams  about the importance and impact of this disease.

Damn.

I look at her and am, once again, incensed at the ability of this disease to work its way into a life full of promise.  And at how, though she is successful, a strong woman,  wonderful parent and giver — she still has to fight with self hate.  And, once again, my passion is renewed.  We have to fight this.  We have to beat this.  We have to provide support for sufferers and families….

And then, as we finished our project and sat back, proud of what we had accomplished, nursing  a cup of tea — she said “you know I never told anyone about this. My husband doesn’t know this about me, my parents didn’t know…

Damn.

I thanked her for trusting me.  For opening her heart and her mind and for believing in herself enough to know that she can say the words out loud and still be safe.

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will it ever Really end?

March is tough on me.  March 9 years ago my world fell apart.  But, its nine years ago.  things are better — so much better.  there is no tangible, recognizable remnant of the hell that time represented in our lives.  and yet, March rolls around and I tense up.  My stomach hurts, my anxiety rears its head and I worry.  I call way too often, stretch for reasons to check in….consider medication…or a strong martini….

Will it ever end?  How long does this veil stay over the joy that Spring should bring?

And then I return to center

ImageAs I stumble through my days, focused on the “issue of the moment” whether it be how to salvage the green beans I bought a week ago, or how to help my son with the custody battle for his daughter, I find myself losing focus on what truly brought me to this particular point in my life.  As impossible as it may seem, I attribute everything, everything that I am and want to be and work for to the moment my child told me she was bulimic.  For the past 7 years a day has not gone by where I did not think, if just for a fleeting moment, about that night.  It has shaped my intention and my drive.  But life moves forward, and the intensity drops.  Other things happen, other issues beckon, and my advocacy for families of those with Eating Disorders takes a back burner.  And I feel guilty that I am not out there fighting, hard, every moment of the day.

,    This morning I read an announcement that Jenni Schaefer, an inspirational voice for those suffering from eating disorders, has decided to “retire” from the field.  She has been a voice in my head since 2007 — her wisdom and insight has helped me help my child.  But, she is well. She is recovered.  She is moving forward with her life and is leaving the field of Eating Disorder Treatment.  Bells and whistles went off in my head.  Alarm?  Concern?  Joy?  All of the above.  You worry that without the support of the network she has woven, she may relapse.  You worry that her voice will be silenced, and she has said so many good things that you know that her message needs to resonate still.  But, I find myself wrapped in joy that this young woman is moving forward.  Her eating disorder does not define who she is and she doesn’t have to think about it every day. 

And I think of my child.  My grown up, married mom and mom -to -be child.  She too is well, recovered, moving forward.  Am I, with my continued focus on ED, holding her back?  Does she still think I’m timing her when she goes to the bathroom after a meal?  Am I timing her?  Does she see “treatment” or love when she looks at me? 

 

This deserves some thought.  My center is shaky.  How do I continue to fight the fight without bringing my daughter into a battle she has already won?

 

The last menu

Today, while cleaning out a drawer in the Hoosier Cabinet in my kitchen, I stumbled upon the last menu from my daughters stay in an Eating Disorder Treatment Center, some 6 years ago, this month.  I looked at it, ran my fingers across the choices she had made:  “peanut butter and jelly sandwich, garden salad ( no tomatoes)…..decaf coffee, water and a brownie” and tossed it in the trash.  THE TRASH.   There it is.  I threw away the last reminder of the period in her life where everything she put in her mouth ( and more importantly, didn’t try to get back out of her mouth) was gone.  I am finally free of the menu monitoring that goes along with being the mother of a child struggling with an eating disorder. Those days, where I, on a weekly basis, made “granola” bars so stock full of fat and sugar that they would make any healthy person cringe, where I packed bags of nuts, boiled eggs, monitored packs of yogurt and checked receipts for evidence of laxatives — are gone.  She, although still moody and sometimes guarded, is free of this beast — and so am I.

* Of course, I held on to the “350 life affirming activities” and “relapse barrier thoughts” sheets, but, you know, Im evolving…

and then it was over

Over.  The breakdown, the screaming and running, the cursing and crying .  Over.  Her room was quiet, serenely quiet.  Her friend, the boy who, seriously saved her life that night, sat by her on her bed.   She propped herself up and sat, heaving, showing me the bruises, the scrapes, swearing at her father. 

She came downstairs for dinner.  Brisket.  It was St. Patricks Day weekend after all, and we always have brisket.  I had no idea that little ritual was part of the madness.  Then she went upstairs and, I was later told, puked it all up.  Again.

But, miraculously, 3 hours later, as I lay with her in her bed, she cried.  she sobbed, she told me I would hate her.  Never, honey, NEVER.  Bulimia.  WTF?? 

72 hours later.  The door locked. The key turned.  And my baby, my precious baby, who had , finally that horrible night, that glorious life affirming night, chosen to live = was locked in the Eating Disorder Center. 

 

And now, 6 years later.  It is over.  Finally.  Much earlier for her, but for me, finally.  I can look at her and not analyze every word for signs of relapse.  I can offer a meal and be ok if she opts out.  My strong, guarded, wonderful girl is well.  And I can finally move forward.

six years ago…tonight

six years ago tonight was the last night of my old life.  the last night that i sat in total oblivion to the powers that were working , to the danger that my child faced, every day.  six years ago tonight my biggest concern was wondering if she was ever going to “get over’ the breakup with the long time boyfriend.  24 hours later I was wondering if she was going to live through the night.  24 hours.

a little off today

feeling stressed today.  on edge, needless worry about things that are fine and do not need to be worried about……Not sure why, but I wonder…As I begin to wander back into the world of eating disorder awareness and advocacy, I sense old habits recurring — asking her if shes eaten, studying her face for telltale signs of purging, worrying about drinking.  No, I refuse to roll back into those habits.  they do noone any good — not me and certainly not my daughter…. I certainly hope these obsessive thoughts dont preclude my work in the field of advocacy.  I believe with all my being that i am supposed to be speaking out for sufferers of eating disorders, and their families.  I worry though, hoping that immersing my self in that will be harmful to myself or my daughter.  this is gonna take some working through………

It really is all about the message…

I had a rather unpleasant experience with an unnamed organization dedicated to supporting families in the fight against eating disorders. I and this unnamed org. had spoken for months, and i repeat MONTHS about my taking on a leadership role, they were looking for new blood, someone with similar principles and ideas , but with new ideas and energy. I fit the bill. Until, alas, when I attended the national conference and was told “dont introduce yourself as a board member, we havent told everyone yet” my bubble burst and I realized that the last thing I needed was to become involved with a group whose major concern was “appearances”, not advocacy.
So I moved on, mutually agreed upon decision: this wasnt gonna work.

Today I read a posting on facebook regarding BMI testing in schools. Damn, why is this still considered a good idea? Why does it sound like a good thing to have kids announce their weight or bmi in front of a crowd? Are you kidding me?

So anyway, the old advocacy beast reared its head again. I am retiring from public education in March, which gives me the perfect opportunity to start banging on doors to advocate for eating disorder awareness. And since I havent found a “club” ( I never was a clique chick) that I fit in with, I guess I will have to begin on my own… any takers?