I was talking to my sister last night about raising daughters. After some reflection, I've decided to share a bit of this with you so that maybe a daughter or two won't have to go through what I put myself through.
First, let's be clear, no one did this to me. I did this to myself. I'm talking about bulimia. Oh, and a side of anorexia. I literally tortured myself for a decade. Every day I woke up hating myself. I hated what I looked like, I hated how I acted, all of it. I hated feeling bad all of the time.
See, if I wasn't binging and purging and hating myself for that, I was starving and generally angry. Every single bite that crossed my lips caused some sort of self-loathing. I hated food. I hated my body. I hated my family because they didn't understand me. I was the worst person on earth for several years.
I just wasn't a nice person. My diseases made me that way. Now, as an adult, and as a survivor of these ugly diseases, I can see what I had become. Anyone that knows me now knows I love my family more than anything. My mom and sister are my best friends. I have probably the world's best in-laws and I love them like we were related by more than vows. My father and I have a better relationship today than we have ever in my life and I'm glad of that. I can't even describe the love I feel for my husband and daughters.
It's because of this love that I will not let them do to themselves what I did.
Every day I woke up hating how I looked and to compensate I was a raging bitch. I have no idea how I had friends. My body was the grossest thing I had ever seen. There were times I wanted to claw it off of me. I envied everyone else. I envied the confidence of my friends. I envied how they would just eat lunch and not worry if they would be able to puke it all back up. I envied their relationships and their attitudes. Why did everyone else get to be in such a good mood? They had dinner parties and I was generally busy. I feared eating in front of people. What if I got all binge-y in front of people. They would see how gross I was.
My disease was contagious. I had a partner in crime during my teen years. We would skip meals together, we would skip entire days. I'm pretty sure she knew at the time what I was doing when we did let ourselves eat but I wasn't going to share my darkest secret. I feel so incredibly guilty now for dragging someone else down with me. The solace that I have comes from the knowledge that she, too, recovered from my sweeping sickness.
I destroyed the trust in my relationships. Bulimia and anorexia are such deceitful diseases. No one ever comes out and says, "yeah, I'm going to go throw this stuff up. Be right back." Every bite taken is a lie. I had a handful of serious relationships that suffered. I mean honestly, what do you do when someone you care about is slowly killing themself? I think you probably get mad, then shut down, then not care and then say hurtful things. I had a few friends that went through this cycle. I am sorry for what I put them through.
A good thing came out of all of it though. I can spot these monsters from a mile away. Claire and Zora would have a hard time sneaking them past me.
Parents, you don't have to be a recovering eating disorder sufferer to catch the signs. Do your research. Ask questions. Be present in your children's lives. I will do every thing in my power to keep my girls from going through what I went through. I want them to know that they are beautiful no matter what. I want them to know that regardless of their beauty they are more than meets the eye. I want them to find self-worth in their accomplishments, friendships, and goals. Sadly, I want them to be nothing like 17 year old me.
Thanks for letting me get these things off my chest, blogosphere. Today I can say that I love the way I look. I strive to be in better shape, but I won't apologize anymore for my size and shape. I came by these things honestly for the first time in a long time.