Saturday, May 19, 2012
For today's challenge, we are supposed to see the eating disorder through someone else's eyes. When we are consumed with our eating disorders - we don't see how it is affecting other people. We think that it is only hurting us... but the truth is (and this is true with any addiction) is that it IS affecting everyone around you. Addictions don't just hurt you, but they also affect the people who love you, and the people in your life.
I asked my mom if she would answer the question on today's writing challenge and share what it was like for her to have a daughter struggling with an eating disorder. Some of what she wrote was really hard for me to read because I still feel so much guilt for what I put people through because of my struggles - but it needs to be shared. Our loved ones need their voices heard because eating disorders affect them to. So this is what my mom wrote:
What did I see?
I saw a girl become very insecure and her self confidence and self esteem go completely away during this time. I saw a beautiful girl lose her physical beauty to pale skin color, thinning hair, very frail body and when I would look in her eyes, there was so much sadness, loneliness and darkness. I saw a fun, active girl become so weak that she would pass out when she stood up, couldn't get out of bed most days and had no strength to keep a job or take care of herself . I saw a compassionate girl become so obsessed with anything and everything she could do to please the eating disorder that she became selfish, dishonest and ungrateful for what others were trying to do to help her. I saw a girl at the end of her " hanging on" to what was left of her real self and crying desperately for help - any kind of help - but not strong enough to accept and comply to receive that help.
What did I feel?
It took me many years to accept that my daughter had an eating disorder. I felt she was a picky eater, unmotivated and too much into looking thin. Then when the eating disorder was in almost complete control and I was seeing the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological effects of it, I felt TERRIFIED!!! I felt helpless, frustrated, stress, betrayed, unappreciated, depressed, insomnia, guilt, lost, extreme sorrow, my heart breaking, etc.
What did I do?
I cried ALOT!!! I prayed ALOT!!! I tried to change her and fix "IT". I went to counseling sessions with her. I read books on eating disorders. I went to counseling for me to understand this eating disorder and how I could accept what was happening to my daughter. I learned that I could not fix or change my daughter (a very hard thing to accept and apply). I had to separate the eating disorder from who my daughter really was. I learned to love my daughter unconditionally, focus on her, and how to not encourage eating disorder behaviors and thoughts by what I said and how I reacted to her. I learned to validate her feelings and just LISTEN. I did not need to give her advice or criticism. I so much wanted to build a relationship with my daughter by letting her know I loved her no matter what she did or said, that I would be there for her at all times, that she could call me anytime she needed help or needed strength to fight the eating disorder, that she could trust me to just listen to her talk, that I would fight for her and I would help her go through recovery however she wanted my help.
Do I regret or would I have done something different?
Yes, I have many regrets about things I have done or said to my daughter. I know I contributed to part of the problem or the cause of her turning to the eating disorder for the reasons that she did. If I knew then what I know now about eating disorders, I believe the degree to which my daughter suffered in the eating disorder would not have been as severe. The lack of knowledge people have of eating disorders is unfortunate. I truly believe that the more people are aware of and understand this terrible disease, the less suffering there would be and there would be more support that is so desperately needed.
How do I feel about where my daughter is now?
I feel very blessed and fortunate that my daughter is in such a good place now in her recovery. I am so grateful for the health of her body after all the destructive behaviors she was engaged in. This is a great blessing! I am grateful that she came to the moment in her life where she really felt in her heart that she did not want to live with the eating disorder any more and she took small steps at a time to climb out of that hole. I feel blessed that she continues to fight the thoughts and behaviors of the eating disorder. I feel blessed that she met a special young man that told her she was beautiful (inside and outside) before he even knew about the eating disorder and continues to support her in such a healthy way. I feel blessed to see her smile and see the glow in her eyes again. My daughter is BEAUTIFUL inside and out! I know she still has her struggles with the eating disorder. I know this is something she will always have to fight. I believe the fight will get easier as she continues to become confident and secure in who she is and what her purpose is in this life.
What are my hopes?
My hopes are for my daughter to become a strong woman who truly believes in herself and that she is beautiful. I hope her dreams will become a reality. I hope she will become a wife and a mother and share her love with her beautiful family. I hope she will continue to share her experiences of how she has survived an eating disorder and to encourage, motivate and be an example to others that are struggling and trying to find the courage and strength to beat this disease.