“Hi Little Angel. What’s the crisis?”
“Just spit it out – it’s only your dad you’re talking to. Just tell.”
“Ok, so, I’m expecting to be disowned for this, but I need to tell you because I’m not happy.”
“So I went to the doctors, because I was getting shakes in my hands and because I wasn’t feeling very well. And the doctors took bloods and all seems normal, but they were a little worried that my potassium is a tiny bit low. Which might be what is causing the shakes and the feeling rubbish.”
“Ok. So why is your potassium low?”
“Because I have been making myself sick.”
“What, on purpose?”
So I told my daddy about my eating problems. On Wednesday, I sat in my therapy session (I will post about therapy in a separate post) and sobbed, basically constantly, from when my arse hit the sofa to when I left. We talked about whether I needed to check myself in to inpatient, whether my suicidal thoughts were changing into suicidal plans, whether I needed to go back on meds… and most importantly, why I felt so totally alone.
Since graduation weekend, when my parents were staying and gosh it was difficult, I have felt an overwhelming urge to tell them that I am struggling. Since that weekend, I have told more people in my life – my boyfriend’s mum, my brother – not huge disclosures, but just put explanations to some strange behaviours they’d noticed. I felt instantly better, upon telling them, but still felt totally trapped, like I was keeping this huge, overwhelming secret, which I think because of my abuse history, is so triggering (the constant hiding behaviours, the lying, the sneaking around, the pretending) I think T and I have realised this week that it actually makes me really very unwell.
In the ED group this week, I asked for people’s experiences of telling their parents, and got some really fantastic advice and sharing. It was so helpful to hear of other people’s stories (positive and negative) and I guess it cemented in my mind that I was going to have to tell my parents. One of the supporters reminded me that the negative reactions my parents might have would be a fear reaction, and that was so helpful to think about. I am so prepared for my parents (mum, in particular) to scream at me, to be abrasive and abusive and confrontational, but although my parents have all sorts of flaws, and at times we really do not get on, but our relationship has fluidity and the ability to adapt now, so I wanted to offer a chance to be open, for our relationship, but also for my sanity.
So after my therapy session, I sent him a text, and the conversation started as above. And you know what? He was so supportive. He didn’t yell, he didn’t belittle my feelings, he didn’t tell me I was a failure and ruining my life. In fact, he said lots of really helpful, healing things to hear, like,
- In response to my sobbing that I was fucking up my life, “you have made fuck ups, but your life is not a fuck up. To be blunt, at 23, you have at least half a dozen major life fuck ups to go. You will make fuck ups, but you are never a fuck up.”
- In response to me telling him all about T and our work, “the last 6 months or so you have really grown up. You’re dealing with this as an adult now. You’re working hard, and you’re already getting better.”
- In response to me saying I was expecting to be disowned, “I will never disown you. You will always be my little girl. Even if you were pregnant, or a prostitute, or in prison, I might be disappointed but I would never disown you. You are my little girl, and there is always a home for you here.”
So, how awesome is that?! T said to my in our session today (the second of the week) that she wished she could have taken a photo of me on Wednesday, and a photo today. She said it was like looking at a different person -my face looks older apparently (I think that’s a good thing..?!) and gosh, do I feel different. Before telling, I had really hit the very lowest low; after telling, suddenly I can really see a future, and I’m making plans and applying for jobs like fury now because I can instantly see the path in front of me that was so covered in depression before.
I am going to tell my mum tomorrow, and I am a little scared that she will burst this happy bubble – but if she does, daddy is still supportive and he will hopefully be able to mop up any toxic spills before they reach me. But once she knows (regardless of her reaction) the secret is out; the cat has left the bag and the hat is looking for a new rabbit. That is intensely scary for all sorts of reasons, but I’m going to ignore them and allow this to be a happy post 🙂
In what can only be described as a beautiful, poetic coincidence, my assessment date for the ED treatment place finally came through on Friday – it’s in just over 3 weeks time. But I feel so ready now, to fix this and move on with my life as a happy, healthy person for whom food doesn’t dictate so much of my life.