This post is for my mom.
Someone who, I can easily say, knows me the best in the world.
This past Thanksgiving, my mom and I put up the Christmas tree together while I was home. We have an entire tree filled with just photo ornaments of my siblings and I through the years. One from every Christmas, for each of us. There are probably close to 200 photo ornaments on this tree and I’m not even exaggerating. The thing is packed. And priceless.
Albeit, with a past that includes some “dark years” during my anorexia, there can be moments of…let’s just say…pause…whenever you come across a photo ornament of me during that time. And you know this…I wrote about how I threw that ornament away this past year and the resulting freedom.
But, there was an accompanying conversation that I didn’t blog about. But it has been weighing on my mind ever since, and that’s a pretty good indicator that I’m supposed to write about it.
The two of us were putting up the tree, and my mother quietly says, “I remember the year when I thought this was going to be my last Christmas with you.” Then she looks at me with wispy, loving eyes, and says, I’m so thankful you’re here and healthy.
That look stayed with me. She looked at me with her big, beautiful, brown eyes, and for the first time, I saw a teeny tiny glimpse of a sadness that was there from that history. An inkling of the pain those eyes had seen.
And that revealing of her heart, that vulnerability of sharing that with me…it had a lasting impact. One that, clearly, I still think about two and a half months later.
I just wanted to say how deeply sorry I am for the pain I put you through. For the mental and emotional anguish you endured as result of my anorexia. I know that you don’t blame me, your daughter, for purposely or intentionally causing you those emotions, but the fact remains: my disease put you through a lot.
More than I will ever know. Because you have never made me feel responsible or guilty. You have always loved me unconditionally, and forgiven me, and stood by my side through it all.
But I am realizing now the true weight of my disease. How, there was a time when you had to come to terms with the fact that, despite your endless prayers and tireless efforts to get me to inpatient, that there was a very real possibility that I might not have “won the fight.” That there was a period of time when you had to come to terms with having to bury your child.
And that…I cannot even begin to imagine the toll that that took on your heart and your spirit.
Expressing how utterly sorry I am feels so empty – so trivial – so almost insulting – given the gravity of the situation and the degree of sorrow you endured.
I want you to know that not a day goes by that I am not grateful for your forgiveness. That there’s not a day that passes where I am not blown away by your love and compassion. And how each day I feel so fortunate to be your daughter.
My anorexia was not your fault.
It was not the result of bad parenting. You never “said anything” or didn’t say anything that somehow caused the disease. You weren’t too preoccupied with outer beauty. You didn’t not talk about faith enough. You didn’t push me into thinking I had to be perfect. You didn’t make me feel that I had to excel, or look a certain way.
There was nothing that you did or didn’t do that caused my eating disorder.
I want you to know that.
I don’t want you to carry any guilt, or somehow feel responsible for it.
I don’t want to say you were a perfect mother, because no one is perfect— but you were pretty damn close.
The anorexia for me was a way to jump ship from a life that had become a “perfection monster.” One that — please note: you did not dictate or demand.
That pressure, those standards — those were my doing. You never communicated or demonstrated that you expected perfection. Never. Not once.
I just wanted you to hear that.
Watching me waste away, I cannot imagine what that must have been like for you, and frankly, I don’t know how you endured it. I mean, I do — you spent every night at church in prayer to Jesus. But, still. I don’t know how, logistically, you made it through the days and nights.
Thank you for never giving up on me.
Thank you for the love you’ve shown – before, during, and after the storm. Thank you for the trust that you’ve rebuilt with me, even though I didn’t deserve it. For the second, and third, and fourth, and sixty seventh chances you’ve given.
You are an incredible mother. Teacher. Nurse. Listener. Cheerleader. Pray-er. Persevere-er. And best friend.
I love you.