The Truth Behind the Lies Of An Anorexic Mom

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Note:  This blog contains descriptions of eating disorder behaviors.  Although I have tried to be mindful in writing about specific behaviors, there are parts of  that may be difficult to read for those actively struggling with an eating disorder.  For support please see the "resources"page on this site.

  • sherrisacconaghi

" I’m so scared, “ she whispered between ragged breaths, her eyes pleading with me to help her.

“Mom, you are going to be okay,” I replied, stroking her arm. Although I was scared too, I believed my words.

“I’m not ready to leave your guys,”’ she said, her arthritic hand clutching Dylan’s with a strength I didn’t know she had.

“Mom, you are not going anywhere, “ I said adamantly as if she were a grounded teenager caught sneaking out of the house.

Earlier in the day, I was heading out to Brennan’s soccer game when my Dad called to tell me Mom had been rushed to the emergency room again. I wasn’t overly concerned as this had happened several times over the past couple of months, each time she was sent home with instructions to “take it easy.” They could find nothing wrong. Although my Mom had been having issues with her heart, she was under the care of a specialist, and we had been assured she was in no imminent danger.   

“ I’ll meet you there,” I said to my dad, motioning for my husband to head on to the game without me. I had just seen Mom the night before at Dylan’s Lacrosse game and she seemed okay, although she left early due to feeling cold. Snow, rain, sweltering heat, my Mom never left a game early.

“Dylan, Grandma, is in the emergency room, will you come with me to the hospital? I asked, “it might cheer her up to see you.”

“Of course,“ Dylan said, his Grandma Sandra being one of his favorite people in the world. 

“I’ll stop and buy you a sandwich on the way," I said believing she was not in crisis, and figuring it could be a lot of sitting and waiting. 

Despite the crowded waiting room, there was no waiting.

“Put these on,” the receptionist said quickly as we checked in, handing us visitor passes. I searched her face for clues to Mom’s condition, the clenching sensation in my gut telling me I may have underestimated this trip.

The room was bustling with hospital personnel when we walked in, Mom hooked to wires that connected to machines bleeping like an orchestra playing off-key.  Her breathing was labored, and tears rolled down her cheeks as she saw us walk in. 

“We are here mom, it’s okay we are here,” I said with a calmness I did not feel.

"I’m not ready to leave you guys,” werethe last words I would hear her say.

Without warning, an alarm sounded overhead, catching me off guard like a fire drill during a yoga class. All available personnel to room four came

over the loudspeaker. 

Room four? We are in room four.

Hospital staff rushed in as Dylan was ushered out, my Mom, a moment ago writhing in pain, was suddenly very still. Medical people surrounded her as chest compressions began, one, two, three, four, her body bouncing with each thrust, my Dad leaned over her pleading, “breathe Sandra breathe!” I watched praying that the next compression would bring her sputtering to life. I began making desperate deals with God; I would be a better daughter, I would nurse her back to health, I’d start going to church, and I'd tell her that I loved her everyday if he would help her come through this. It all was happening so fast, yet moving in slow motion. Five, six, seven eight. Nothing.

“Dad, I can’t watch anymore,” I said as I stepped outside the room, collapsing into a metal chair, my legs feeling like water. 

I pulled out my phone and called my sister who was out of town visiting a friend, “Lisa, come home,” I choked, "it’s Mom.”

My Dad and I waited silently next to each other in those cold hard brown metal chairs, the frantic bustling in her room giving me hope she was still alive. 

 Then silence.

The doctor walked towards us, his scrubs drenched in sweat, and his eyes not meeting mine. I willed him not to speak, knowing the words would make it real.

My life was about to be forever changed.

  • sherrisacconaghi

"Mom, would you want to be a black person?" My sixteen-year-old son asked me earlier this week, catching me off guard, leaving me at a loss for words while I tried to come up with a mom-like answer. 

We have had some interesting conversations around here this past couple of weeks. I am grateful to be able to do so.

"I'm happy being a white person, "I answered non-committal, an unfamiliar discomfort snaking is way down my body.

"That's not what I asked," he said sounding like every therapist I have ever had when pressed on a hot topic. 

I knew what I should say. But that would be a lie.

"That's not what I asked," he said sounding much like every therapist I’ve ever had when I have tried to avoid a topic. 

I knew what I should say. But it would be a lie.

My son's question and the feelings it has evoked in me have been weighing heavily on my heart and head this past week.  I've struggled to do justice to my weekly Skinny-Truth blog post as this moment feels more significant right now, so am pivoting, for today, from my story. 

You see, until recently, I believed it was enough to treat people respectfully regardless of the color of their skin color. I thought I was doing my part by being equally kind, curious, or pissed off with people no matter what their race or gender identity. Like millions, I sat heartbroken and incredulous, watching the brutality of the George Floyd murder. I cursed the officer who cruelly took Mr. Floyd's life, and as it followed so closely behind the Ahmaud Arbery murder, it has caught my attention. Yes, I may be slow, but I would like to believe I am not stupid. I have begun to see things differently.

 Until recently, I found myself bristling at the term "white privilege," instantly getting my hackles up, ready to argue the point. Just because I'm white doesn't mean I'm privileged. The term made me feel as if my struggles were insignificant in some way. That I have not suffered because I am white.  

I see things differently now.   

I've been confused about why my mostly white social media friends were recommending books on how to be anti-racist and what that even meant. I am not a racist I thought; I have friends of color whom I adore, maybe others need to read those things but not me. 

 I see things differently now. 

All week I have been listening and reading about how white people need to do more to combat racism in this country. I've watched peaceful protests that have given me hope, violence, and destruction that have made me feel hopeless. I have laid awake at night, trying to figure out where I fit, and how can I do more. Thinking am I the only one that feels stupid for not knowing what to do?

I do not know what it is like to be a person of color in this world, and I realize I will never understand how that feels. So I have been afraid to say something for fear of sounding ignorant or worse, offending by an ill phrased sentence, or politically incorrect word.   

 I see things differently now.

 My experience is as a white person living in this fucked up world. A white woman who no longer believes that being kind is enough to combat racism and that staying quiet is useful. A white person trying to figure out how the hell to do something that will make this world, well, less fucked up.  

I am not one to protest in mass or post political or social justice opinions on social media, but that does not mean I can remain silent. I have decided to the one useful skill I have, my words, to join the conversation.  Hoping through the exchange of respectful expression that I might learn something I can do to make a difference. I will undoubtedly mess up, and I may unintentionally offend. Still, I'm willing to take the risk and stop worrying about doing something right and just start doing something. 

I am hopeful someday when a white child asks their parent a question about race preference, there might be a different answer, or better yet, perhaps there may be no context for the question at all.

  • sherrisacconaghi

“This has been the best day," my mom said, beaming. We were sitting on the veranda of a golf course, the tropical breeze surrounding us with the scent of plumeria and hibiscus. It had been a great girls' day with my sister and niece, shoe shopping, followed by a stop at the resort spa for mom's first experience in a luxurious hot tub. It was fun seeing her so happy. 

A great day. ( Hawaii 2015)

In 2015,  when my parents said they wanted to take, Marc, the boys and I, along with my sister’s family, on an all-expense-paid family trip to Hawaii over the Christmas holiday to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary, I was torn. I loved Hawaii, I loved my parents, and I loved all-expenses-paid, but for me there was a cost. I was not a group traveler. 

While I was in my disease, traveling with people other than Marc and the boys, who were used to my very deliberate routine, was difficult. Having to give up the safety of my structured life and being flexible enough to participate in the activity preferences of others was impossible for me to do. Even when it included things and people I loved, I found some excuse to say "No." The annual beach trip with the "core four," where we drank too much wine and ate chips and salsa for dinner fell by the wayside.  Trips with teammates to play tennis in my favorite resort in Central Oregon, I repeatedly refused. The number of invitations I turned down to participate Hood to Coast, a running relay with a group of women stuck in a van for twenty-four hours is too many to count and loud, structureless, weekend getaways with our neighborhood became something I endured only because it was important to my kids to be a part of it. The idea of sleeping in, doing brunch, endless happy hours, laying by the pool, or anything that included a long car ride caused my heart rate to speed up like I was in a burning building, and desperately needed to find an exit. Like at home, when I traveled, I had to have my own routine; my workouts and my meals specifically timed and to my preference and I didn’t want the judgement that might come from doing my own thing. I feared letting down my guard and relaxing even for a day might cause my whole world to crumble. 

But that family trip to Hawaii meant so much to my parents, my mom, especially. We had made a similar trip eleven years earlier, shortly after my cancer surgery, and the happiness it brought my parents, to be surrounded by their kids and grandkids, was undeniable. I wanted them to have that again for their big 5-0. It was the first thing in ten years that was important enough for me to push through the panic of my anorexic world. I was not going to allow my disease to prevent me from being a part of it. I packed my running shoes and as much of my own food as I could,  and off we went.  

"You were a pain to travel with on that trip," my sister Lisa shared with me several months ago, in response to another of my blog post's on travel, “we had to do whatever made you happy, and it pissed me off."

I wasn’t trying to be difficult. In fact just the opposite.  I spent many hours on that trip fighting. With myself. My anorexic brain begging me to maintain the structure and the rigid schedule that kept me feeling safe and my Sherri brain, louder than ever, urging me to let go and enjoy the moments with my family; the shopping, the spa, the meals out, and the game nights. I told myself I would regret missing out, that those moments were precious and may never happen again.


Thanks for your interest in Skinny: The Truth Behind The Lies OF An Anorexic Mom. I'd love to connect with you so feel free to get in touch and I will get back to you soon!

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