Who I Am
“Anorexic Mom. I’m curious why you have that as part of your blog title?” I was recently asked this question in an interview for an upcoming event in which I am taking part.
“Because it is a part of who I am,” I answered honestly, feeling the pressure building behind my eyes. The tears threatening to spill over and cascade down my cheeks. Damn, damn, damn. Will this ever get easier?
As I re read some of my blog posts from the past year I see that I have gotten better at writing openly about my obsessive exercise, food restriction, and tumultuous relationship with my body. However, when it comes to my relationship with my kids, I find myself touching upon it and pulling back, like picking up a rose full of thorns then dropping it because it hurts.
The truth is that for most of their lives, my boys have lived with a mom struggling with anorexia. Over the years I had become an expert at convincing myself the symptoms of my disease were not affecting them. That the obsessive exercise, ritualistic eating patterns, erratic mood swings, and distracted focus went unnoticed. I did not want to admit I could be doing anything to cause my boys worry or pain. When disturbing thoughts started to creep in or a pointed comment was made making it visible that my illness touched them, I would rationalize and distract. I would shift my focus to something else like obsessing about my body, fixating on my marriage, stressing about money, worrying about worrying. As they got older, the emotions that were gnawing at the edges became harder to ignore.
In 2015, my boys were hitting mini-milestones. Dylan was graduating from junior high, and Brennan, my baby, was leaving the safety of the elementary school. Part of me was grateful for the change. Dylan academically breezed through but was struggling in other areas of teenaged life. And Brennan, restless, was socially ready to branch out and tackle the jungled halls of the junior high. (Math, not so much). I was excited the change would bring a fresh start for both of them. But it also hit me how fast time was flying. They were growing up.
I had difficulty admitting even to my therapist what was weighing heavy on my heart. I could verbalize my feeling in generalities. Talking loosely about the “remember when’s” and “wish I would have’s,” of parenting felt safe, like dancing around the shoreline of a serene ocean. But I feared verbalizing the deeper feelings would cause a tsunami of waves to come crashing down, swallowing me whole.
“Sherri,” Karen said to me after another relatively unproductive session of me talking about my still distended and uncomfortable stomach, “I have a thought of what might ease your physical discomfort.”
“For real?”, I asked skeptically, hoping she would not throw out more hippy-dippy suggestions of yoga poses or gratitude meditations. I wanted something real, a medication, supplement or specialized treatment that would bring instant relief.
In actuality, she had something quite different in mind.
The boys at their graduation ceremonies. They were ready. I was not. ( 2015)