I went straight into treatment after the candy dish incident.
However, after the initial shock of the incident wore off, it took a stronghold on me, and I could not shake it. My father in law’s words followed me around like an unwanted shadow. They were with me as I showered in the mornings, bringing extra attention to my concave stomach and jutting hipbones. I heard them as I got dressed each day, reminding me to cover my arms, and hide the veins that protruded through my skin. His voice echoed as I obsessively checked my refelction in the mirror, and tried to convince myself that the body Neil saw was not the body everyone else saw. Do I look like walking death? Skeletal? The possibility buzzed around my psyche, but I would bat it away like an annoying fruit fly as I was not ready to face what Neil being right might mean.
“Do not ever leave me alone with him. Ever!” I shouted at my husband. We often spent time with both of our parents for family get-togethers, and I wanted to make sure I was perfectly clear that in no way was I going to put myself through that again.
My husband pursed his lips as if he had just eaten something sour and blinked slowly at me. I could sense he was trying to find the balance between supporting the woman he loved without hurting the man he idolized, hoping my anger would pass like a thunderstorm in the tropics. I was pissed that he was not as outraged as I over the whole incident but not surprised. My husband avoided conflict like it was a colonoscopy. Over the eighteen years we had been together, our disagreements often comprised of me yelling, Marc shutting down, and both of us ignoring each other for the rest of the day.
Without feeling my husband’s support, I turned to my friend Lori as an ally in my self imposed war with my father in law.
“WTF?" I vented as I explained the saga to her during one of our weekly walk and talk’s where we would solve life’s problems amongst the tree lined paths in our neighborhood , “who does he think he is?”
“Well, Sher, “ Lori said in a gentle voice, “ do you think he may have a point? You are so thin.”
Lori had danced around the subject of my weight several times over the years. Friends since college, we had been through a lot together and she knew I could be touchy when faced with feedback of a personal nature. I imagine she never pushed too hard, for fear it would fracture our friendship.
“I cannot believe you are taking his side,” I said, picking up my pace, trying to hide the hurt in my voice. I wanted Lori to tell me he was an ass, out of line, and wrong. I wanted to spend the hour talking about how I was okay, and he was the one with the problem.
I was desperate for someone to agree with me. I found myself alone in my anger. I was fighting not only Neil’s words but against something else, a feeling that was pushing at my edges trying to gain access to my conscious brain.
When I allowed it to get too close it caused me so much pain it took my breath away.