For the past few years, I’ve made it a point to segregate the writings I’ve done as part of my advocacy and support work in the world of eating disorders from my personal blog. Recently, however, I learned that all of those writings inadvertently “disappeared” from the internet, when the blog I was contributing to was abruptly shut down. I was heartbroken, in part because many of the writings were deeply personal and I’m told by those who read them were instrumental in helping those who’d “lost” or temporarily misplaced their voice share their struggles and their hearts with loved ones. This is one of those pieces, which I happened to save, borne of conversations I had with someone fearful of having to tell her loved ones that she was struggling – again – and in desperate need of help. The names, of course, have been changed, but the emotions seldom do.
“Just eat for God’s sake, for your sake – for our sake!”
Dear Mom, Dad, Husband, Brother, Sister, Friend,
I know you’re frustrated and angry that I’m struggling – AGAIN! Believe me, I am too, but I’m also terribly afraid – afraid of slipping back into the quicksand of this insidious disease, afraid of the darkness that I know is waiting for me if it succeeds in pulling me back in, if it is allowed to re-gain a foothold.
Most of all, I’m afraid of disappointing and hurting you – even more than I already have. I’m afraid that every new misstep and slip will be the proverbial straw that finally breaks the camel’s back, that this time when I reach out for your hand to give me a reason and the strength I need to pull myself out it won’t be there. You won’t be there.
That’s the part that’s unbearable to me. The disease is a tough enough adversary to fight with an army behind you, let alone when you’re alone. It’s doubly difficult when you’re saddled with guilt and shame, like I am (like most sufferers are) for having put so many others, especially those I love, through so much.
I wish I knew what to say. I wish I had words that could make you understand what it’s like to live with this disease, why I get stuck sometimes – why I stumble. The truth is: I don’t really understand it myself. There are, however, some things that are very clear to me that I want – actually, I need – you to know:
I’m committed to battling this disease until I beat it.
I’m grateful for all you’ve done and how patient you’ve been with me.
Your belief in me and in my ability to win this war matters – a lot.
I’ve never wanted or intended to cause you pain or hardship and now is no exception.
I may have taken a step back, but it’s only a step (or two). It’s all part of the journey.
I can’t afford for you to give up on me. I’ve/we’ve come too far.
In fact, I need you now more than ever. I’ll find the courage and I’ll do the fighting, but I need your support. I need your love.
You have mine.