One of my best friends called me after she read my last post. I wish I could remember more of the conversation, more specifics, as she is always so good at speaking Truth to me, but I do remember hearing her kids in the background.
I love those babies of yours, I say.
I know, buddy, she says with a hint of sadness in her voice. And I want them to know that for themselves. I don’t want to have to tell them about how much their Aunt Jess loved them because you’re not around anymore.
The tears started to well up in my eyes. Those are the kids whose photos were posted in my bedroom during residential treatment. Those are the kids I choked down pancakes and BLTs and ice cream for, the kids I wanted desperately to see the second I came home. Those are the kids that are crawling around on the floor when I do my safe place visualization. I couldn’t love them more if I had been the one to birth those 11 pound babies on her bedroom floor. (Seriously, my friend is amazing. In more ways than one.)
I wipe my tears and try to allay her fears. I’m not going to die. I’m not even at my lowest weight. And even at my lowest weight, I wasn’t really sick.
I’m not going to validate your eating disorder by discussing what you do or don’t weigh, Jessica. (Did I mention she’s amazing?) I don’t care what you weigh, you’re sick. You may not be as bad off as you were physically, but mentally, you are much sicker than you’ve ever been.
It was difficult to hear that. It was difficult to listen to her tell me that if I went back to work now, I was basically writing my death sentence. It is difficult to imagine that this illness could possibly kill me, even when I seem to be in no physical danger now.
I’ve been reading some of my old journal entries, both here and in my personal journals. I am amazed at the fight I had in me, even in my darkest months (May-June 2010). I am amazed at the faith and hope that I had, the belief that — even though I couldn’t see it — the story wasn’t over yet and I would pull through.
Even last year at this time, as I struggled hard and tried to decide what to do, I was filled with hope. I was able to write and tap into those parts of me that I knew to be true. I was able to lean hard on my Saviour and my God and trust that He had a plan for this thing.
Now, it is 8 days before Christmas and all I can think about is the fact that we have french toast every year for Christmas breakfast and I can’t eat french toast. I think about our annual family Christmas party next Friday and wonder how I will deal with it when I only eat six foods. I think about sitting in church on Christmas Day, then going to the movies (as is our family tradition) and can only consider how it will be nearly impossible for me to keep still, keep my leg from bouncing, keep my mind from counting calories on the day I should be celebrating the miracle of the Word made flesh.
So yes, maybe mentally, I’m worse than I have been. My list of fear foods is infinitely longer than it’s ever been. My chest seizes in panic at the thought of taking my chewable multivitamin with its 10 calories. My feet and legs seem possessed by a power outside myself, constantly moving, even into the early hours of the morning, convinced that if I stop for even a moment, all the weight I’ve lost will magically reappear. I haven’t showered in two days because I haven’t figured out how to do so in the dark and without ever having to touch, see, or deal with my body.
I’m sure there was a point to this post. I guess it’s just to say, yes — I’m not completely oblivious to how bad things are. I can, occasionally and for very brief periods, see things as they are. And in those moments I cry.
I cry for the things I’ve lost and the things I’ve missed.
I cry for the fact that I don’t see an end to this hell, save the grave.
And that small 2% of me that still knows I am a child of God, cries for the fact that this not how it is meant to be.