“I wish I had THAT problem.”
If I had a spa day for every time I heard that when I mentioned I lose my appetite under stress. I get it, if you're going through a hard time, losing a few pounds is kind of like a….. consolation prize. Unless, like I, you weighed about as much as a fourth grader.
Eight years ago that is where I found myself. I was in the throws of losing my maternal grandma, Dorothy, although she was more than my grandma. We had a connection like I have never had with another person . She was my safe place, my cheerleader, my counselor, my friend, and my defender (like when when my sister bit me, and in my defense, she bit her back). The thought of losing her was something I could not wrap my head around. In September of 2012, she had just turned one hundred years old, and we knew time was drawing near the end. She was in an assisted living home a half a mile from my house and I was determined to spend as much time with her as I could, along with my mom who spent almost every waking hour with gram. I had to remember this was hard on her too.
During those months, my food intake severely decreased. It wasn’t my usual control thing, I just didn’t feel like eating. It was like all the emotions I felt, the anxiousness that each day might be our last together, the sadness of watching my fiery Scottish grandma become a shadow of the vibrant woman she once was, and the melancholy of remembering the happy times we had together, all jumbled together in one big ball of.... Ugh. I didn’t want to feel the hurt and sadness, so I didn’t. I allowed those feelings to sit in the pit of my stomach, festering like like an open wound , leaving an apple and a few rice crackers to sustain me through hours of tennis, cardio blast, running, boot camp, motherhood. Life.
Oh, I knew I needed to eat more. By that time in my life I had become aware enough that I had no reserves, no cushion, to allow for crisis calorie reduction. I even contemplated lowering my activity level during that time in efforts of practicing some semblance of self care. Give myself some grace while I was grieving. Contemplation was as far as it got.
My grandma passed away eight years ago Tuesday. Over the years I don’t know if she noticed my shrinking frame, my tired eyes, or my mini meals. If she did, she would never say. But thanks to a picture (I have since destroyed) taken not long before she passed, I noticed. I looked at that picture, trying to find ways to explain away my appearance, the hollow eyes, jutting collarbone, and brittle hair. For the first time I allowed the possibility to creep in that perhaps the years of extreme exercise, food restriction and the inability to regulate my emotions had taken a toll. I promise gram, I will take care of myself. Don’t worry, I will get healthy.
I wanted nothing more than to keep that promise.