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.
19 responses to “The Intervention”
I am a father, I was someone’s child, and I was married to someone who, shortly after we were married, I discovered suffered from Bulimia. I relate to the words you write on all those levels, but this moment is reserved for the father’s perspective. I pray that the fathers of those who suffer with eating disorders will be led to your words and, in them, find hope. I pray they will find ways of dealing with their own helplessness by understanding their loved one’s helplessness a little better.
I wish there was a better button to show appreciation for the words you write other than ‘like’. I don’t ‘like’ to read about the pain and suffering you and those who love you endured – indeed, still endure. I don’t
‘like’ to think about what it takes to leave intimate, scarred, tortured pieces of oneself in a public place so that others may find them and be encouraged by them. I don’t ‘like’ the knowledge of what it means to relive the events that are described with the hope that God will lead someone to them who benefits by them.
But I LOVE your courage and that is the only button there is to push. Thank you.
Wow, thank you Tony. You really understand why I’ve put these words out there. That is exactly why. In the hopes that it finds someone who needs to hear it. Especially the loved ones. espeeeeeecially the loved ones. God uses brokenness and uses al things for good and he really put it on my heart to write this out and share for the benefit of people suffering, either first hand or watching someone else go through it. I am so sorry that your wife suffered from bulimia. EDs are so destructive. I pray that she is doing better. Thank you for your outpouring of support and encouragement.
This is difficult. As a mom, I hope & pray I do not face this powerlessness in helping my four chilren. They are older teens and young adults. I am learning to let go bit by bit as they forge through life, have experiences and relationships I may never know or fully realize. I pray that the love I have shown them, and their own relationship with Christ gets them through even if I am unable to be there by circumstances or because they shut me out. It breaks my heart to hear your pain. God bless you for sharing. I pray others find you and are also healed by the light of Christ.
Thank you so much for this. And for reading my entries. It means a lot. It sounds like you are a great mom–loving, empowering and Spirit-filled. What a great example to your kids. Sending lots of love and hugs xox
After reading this entry, I felt, momentarily, compelled to ask you a question. (You probably know what I was going to ask.) But, I want to wait and see if you answer my question in subsequent entries. This entry really moved me – moved me to tears, in fact. Your are gifted, truly gifted, and God is using you, as I pray He will use me. Never stop being the blessing you are!
Thank you so much for this response. God will definitely use you. I believe that with my whole heart. We are His instruments. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love my friend
I’m so afraid for my granddaughters at this point who see the unreal portrayals of the female body in the media…did that come into play with you at all during this time?
Hi Gail, thanks for this question. You’re right, the airbrushed images are quite problematic. I have to say, I didn’t really latch onto any media’s portrayal of beauty during this dark time. It was more a reflection of my own body. There were one or two actresses that i would hold up as having the “perfect” bodies, but really, it was my own body dysmorphia that played into it more. hope that helps.
I completely agree with you, about the power of choice, self will. I will say, I praise God for that small glimpse you had. Seeing past the disease for that short glimpse. Because I believe it is that small piece of truth that showed, deep down, the desire was there for change, and healing. But people can’t force that on you, no.
Again, thank you for sharing your honesty, your experiences, and showing everyone the healing you’ve experienced. I’ve told my close friends this, and I want to tell you this too. As a believer, we never stay stable. We never stay still. We always grow. The Holy Spirit sifts through our heart. He shows us when we are comfortable and can give Him one piece of ourselves, He pricks us with conviction and says, “Okay, let’s work on the next thing. I want all of you.” We always continue to learn. We will guide others through this.
You are doing just that.
And your “yellow” may help open the eyes of others too 🙂
You’re on a reading roll! thank you for that 🙂 You’re right, God is always working on us, and growing us. “I want all of you” — gosh, I love that so much. And how true it is! And you’re right, you’ve got to want the healing for yourself. Thanks for the support and encouragement. you are a blessing to me 🙂 big hugs xo
Good morning, my friend. This moves me on so many levels. First the honest reflection of your own resistance, your head strong determination and belief in what you were doing and who you were, no matter the consequence. Second, the view of your father and memories of love. Finally, that it didn’t work… wow… this insight, one we all have to learn, right? No matter the challenges we face, be it anorexia or just getting through a shitty day, if we don’t do it for ourselves, we haven’t really done it.
Plus – pretty damn good writing, a cliff hanger. Well done drawing the reader into the story to get us to come back!
Until tomorrow, may you enjoy the end of your day as I celebrate the beginning of mine on this journey with a fascinating new human.
Thanks S, yeah it was a bit of a wild day. Thanks for this powerful perspective. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thanks x Hugs and love xox
I can only imagine, you have done a very wonderful job conveying the intensity. Very powerful. Hugs back. 🙂
Thanks again ✨☀️💛☀️✨
You are very welcome.
Your father sounds like an excellent man. A true warrior, his shield held high; a guardian against the dark.
Thanks Derek. He really is the most incredible man I know. I look up to him so much.
This is kind of insane. I had a very similar experience my senior year of high school. I was also 18 and forced to go to a psychiatric hospital. I didn’t want to get better. But I was cutting, throwing up everything I ate, and pretty much suicidal. I didn’t want to get better, but I went because I was basically forced by my parents who said they would have me legally thrown in somewhere if I wasn’t willing to check myself in. It’s crazy how similar my story is to yours and yet how very different. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m reading through your blog because you liked my post and I’m glad you did because I found someone I relate to!
Oh friend I’m sending you such a big hug through the screen. I’m so sorry that you went through that. I’m glad that our paths crossed too. Sending big big hugs xo