I couldn’t bring myself to go in. Not yet. Instead, I sat on the cement bench, staring at the thirteen-story building across the street—the sun causing its shadow to loom over me, like a character in a sci-fi movie. Surrounding me was the hustle and bustle of busy downtown Portland. Business people speaking loudly into Bluetooth devices, disheveled college students guzzling Starbucks, and an array of homeless, pushing their grocery carts of worldly possessions. I was grateful for the distraction.
Before ending our conversation, Kelly had given me the name of a therapist in town who was conducting a body image group. I suspect after peppering her with a barrage of excuses of why inpatient was not an option for me, she felt she needed to throw me a lifeline. I am the mom of two boys I told her. They just lost two grandparents, I explained. I am the sole driver in our very busy family, I pleaded. All true, yet even to myself, I sounded like a fifth-grader explaining to my teacher why I was late. But it rescued me from more inpatient talk, and I was relieved.
I called Kirsten; the therapist Kelly had referred me to, the minute I returned home from the hot car conversation, still reeling from the shock of what I felt was Kelly’s refusal to work with me. I was afraid if I waited, I would lose my nerve and allow my anorexic brain to convince me I didn’t need help. But as I made the call, I was more cautious. Kelly’s extreme response to my reach out for help made me feel more guarded about the facts of my situation.
“Well actually, the body image group is full,” Kirsten said to after I explained why I was calling. I felt my heart sink, leaving me feeling instantly hopeless. Afraid now that I was finally reaching out for help, no one would be willing to help me.
“Tell me a little bit about why you are interested in such a group.” she continued, her voice relaying a genuine interest. Something about Kirsten, this unknown woman, made me want to spill my guts, releasing the secrets and lies I had been carrying around inside for so many years.
But, I held back, giving Kirsten my well-rehearsed watered-down story. When I finished, I stopped and waited for the questions about my, weight, exercise and food intake that I was so sure she would ask. But she didn’t.
“I am starting a new group,” she said with a hint of contemplation in her voice, “ it’s not a body image group, but I think you might be a fit.”
“That would be great,” I said enthusiastically, forgetting to ask questions about what she was thinking. My hopes were soaring again with the idea that maybe she could help me.
“ I would like to meet with you first to make sure this would be a fit,” Kirsten said, “ Would you be willing to do that?”
I eagerly agreed to meet her the following week. I was ready to grasp at anything that might help me fix my situation. But when the appointment came, and I found myself sitting on that busy street, in front of her office, I couldn’t bring myself to move.
I felt anything but ready.