I can’t think of anything worse than being held hostage by a disease or addiction. Mine was anorexia. For years, I was completely powerless to it.
I was hospitalized multiple times and unable to have a fulfilling social life because avoiding food was more important to me than connecting with other humans. I couldn’t sit and have a meal with my family. I saw my father cry more times during those three years than I have in my entire life. My younger siblings, who were just children at the time, listened as I had uncontrollable meltdowns. I spent hours curled up in a ball over the bathroom heater because I was so cold and too underweight to warm myself back up. I had nights where I’d fear that I die in my sleep because my organs would shut down. I’d often call my mother and express my fears until she talked me off the ledge. I can’t imagine how terrifying those calls must have been for her. When I got down to my very lowest weight a few years into my battle, a nutritionist explained to me that I may never be able to have children because of the permanent damage caused on my reproductive organs.
Even then, I couldn’t get myself to eat. I may have been afraid of dying, but I was far more afraid of eating.
Knowing what I was putting my family through broke my heart but it didn’t help me get better. All it did was make me feel guilty and make my self-loathing grow. It made me want to push everyone away as a means to protect them from me and the catastrophic disease I was trying to battle alone. I wouldn’t let anyone help me because I didn’t want to be a burden and I didn’t want to continue letting everyone down.
Now I realize how selfish of me that was. Who was I to decide what the people who loved me were capable of taking on? I never asked myself what I would want if I were in their shoes. After years of fighting in isolation, I finally let my family take care of me. It was the ultimate act of surrender and the kindest thing I could have done for them.
For my family:
I put all my trust in you to help me through this hard fight. Your unwavering love for me has helped me to grow stronger every day.
Thank you for loving me enough not to let me push you away. No matter how many times I tried to shut you out, you never gave up on me.
Thank you for never holding my disease against me. The guilt I have felt is all mine, you have never once given it to me.
I feel more connected to all of you because of how honest and raw our interactions were during my worst years. I have nothing to hide from you ever again.
Because of you, I know what it means to be loved unconditionally. I don’t have to be at my best all the time. I can be in the depths of a full on nightmare and you’ll never turn your back on me.
You have shown me how to support others, how to truly show up for someone going through a hard time. I feel honored when someone feels they can lean on me. It is not a burden at all, it’s a blessing.
Now I know how you felt when I finally surrendered and let you help me.