I wrote an e-mail to my pastors and friends today, throwing up the red flags. I am tired and feel a little like I just harakiri-ed myself all over the e-mail. But I am posting it here as evidence that I am trying! So that when I try to tell myself that I’ve given up, I can be reminded that I haven’t.
Many, many thanks to Sarah for providing so many of the words. I’m so grateful to know someone who has walked this road before me.
Do you have a cup of coffee? Are you comfortable? This e-mail has the potential to be atrociously long (and disjointed), so I just want you prepared.
If you are getting this e-mail, it means that I respect you greatly, love you immensely, and would trust you with my life. It also means that you have, in some way, walked this road with me to this point — which has been a gift beyond words. I’m so glad that each of you is a part of my story (though I really do wish my story were ready to flip to a new chapter already).
This e-mail is exceptionally hard for me to write. I tire of being “the crazy one” or “the distressed one” or “the sick one” — which is not to say this is how you view me, but is so much of how I view myself, making it difficult to reach out when I need some support. I also worry that sometimes me asking for help could be misconstrued as some sort of manipulation, which is never the case, but I always fear that by asking for help you will somehow feel manipulated. That’s never my intent and if at the end of this e-mail you don’t feel led to do any of the things I’m asking for, that’s totally fine. This e-mail is as much for me to admit where things are and to break the silence as it is to ask for help.
Admitting where things are is the hardest part, because I (as usual) don’t see it. However, my nutritionist was intentional in telling me on Wednesday that she is extremely concerned that things are about to get very bad, very quickly (and I’ll be honest – she hasn’t been wrong to date). I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that what I hoped was a minor blip in the recovery process has turned into a full-blown relapse. So I figure now is the time to rally the troops, as it were – before I am so far down the rabbit hole that I can’t throw up a hand to let you know I’m drowning.
So what does all this mean? What do I need from you? (This is the part that is terribly difficult for me. Please understand that as I type these real, practical ways that you can help, every fiber in my being is screaming.)
1. Please pray. Pray hard. Every time I try to pray I am at a complete loss for words, tripping over my thoughts and getting lost in endless despairing loops that are unproductive. I am terribly disconnected from my body and feelings at the moment, making staying present in prayer tough.
2. Check in with me, face-to-face if possible. I can already feel myself isolating, so any way that you can attempt to break me out of that is fabulous. Even an e-mail or text message would be great. Even better would be to invite me for coffee, invite me to help you clean, invite me to sit on your couch and read — these would do double duty by forcing me to be social AND keeping me out of the gym.
3. Please be honest with me. If you are sad, mad, disappointed, concerned — whatever. Please let me know. Details are great — I had a friend tell me earlier this week that she is mad because she feels I have shut her out this year. It was hard to hear, but at least I knew what she was feeling and how to respond. The reality is, I can’t often see this thing for what it is, and I need people to be my eyes. I will try to trust you when you tell me what you’re seeing (really). But just as important, your honesty helps remind me that this isn’t some sort of private endeavor — that my eating disorder affects those around me and that I am NOT some sort of island, despite my desperate attempts to believe that.
If you have made it this far in this e-mail, I commend you. If you made any sense of it, I’m shocked and amazed.
Thank you for putting up with me. I love every one of you more than I could possibly express.