My getting to inpatient hospital was strictly against my will. I was 18 years old my senior year and legally an adult. Therefore, my parents could not legally commit me: I had to make the decision to go myself. Like that was going to happen…
An intervention was staged with five days left until graduation. First, my mom had my principal call me into the office and tell me that I could no longer attend school because I was a “liability.” I would still graduate, but I could no longer attend the school property. (I learned eight years later that my mom had my principal say this, and that it was all part of the intervention to get me to inpatient.) My parents called my siblings, their spouses, and our youth minister to be at home when I got home from school. A bed at the R. Eating Disorder Recovery Hospital (we’ll call it “R”) had just opened up – and the waiting list was daunting – years long. Not to mention $160,000. My mom had applied for a bed months ago without my knowledge. In order to get the bed, I had to leave the following day, and agree to inpatient for three months, missing my graduation.
My parents told me that if I didn’t agree to go, that they would turn me over to the state and I would be committed to a mental institution as a ward of the state. My dad had a lawyer draw the papers. I may have been headstrong, but this scared the hell out of me.
I was furious. I barricaded myself in my room. My father nearly broke the lock down. There was screaming. There was rage. I have never been so angry or enraged in my life. All I wanted was to walk with my class. To graduate. To get my diploma. I would be graduating with over a 4.0 GPA, and was the recipient of a drama scholarship. I wanted to graduate with my class. Five. More. Days.
But if I waited, the bed would not be available. And my parents told me that in five days I would be dead. I was 78 pounds. I should have died.
There was only one thing that got through to me. And that was my youth minister, Luke Rowfronter. He got about 2 inches away from my face, looked me straight in the eyes, and I swear to you, I saw Jesus. He said to me, “Do you know what you’re doing to your father?” I looked over at my dad. He had left the living room where everyone was sitting and had gone to the kitchen and was standing over the stove, trying to regain his composure. In that fraction of a second, I had a moment of clarity and I saw through the disease. I had a fraction of a second where I was her – where I was the girl I used to be. The girl I’d lost. And in that split second, I saw my father, who had given every ounce of his being to help me beat the disease. He had stepped down from his job, grown tired with worry and old with despair. He didn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and felt like he had failed as a father. My father, who had an answer for everything, a proud man, feeling so utterly helpless. Defeated. In that moment, I was daddy’s little girl, just like I had always been. I remembered back to the days of playing beauty parlor with him when he watched TV at night, allowing me to put colorful barrettes in his hair, like the saint he was. I remembered him tucking me in every single night, telling me bedtime stories and sitting me with me as I fell asleep. I remembered him teaching me how to play poker with pennies on the living room floor, how he’d comfort me when I was scared during thunderstorms, and how he’d be at every play, recital, and sporting event with that “proud father” smile. He had given me the world, and I was lying to him and abusing that unending love. Looking at him, I saw how much I was hurting him. And that’s when I conceded to go to rehab: A combination of mainly being scared shitless that my father would use the papers he had drawn up to have me committed to a state-run mental institution, and the fact that I was unconscionably hurting the father I loved so deeply.
But that’s why it didn’t work. That’s why I relapsed before I even left R. I went, not because I wanted to get better, but because I was forced and I wasn’t doing it for me.