Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Still a Rebel.... at 40!

Well, THANKFULLY family week at Remuda Ranch is over. It was brutal. The other families who shared our week only got to see our family through the eyes of our ill daughter. When it was their turn to tell us their opinions of our family, (mostly negative, in the sense that we try to hard) it was mercifully cut short by time constraints. My head and stomach are still churning from the experience. I came home unsure of how to parent, for every decision I made seemed to have such possibilities to be misconstrued, fall short, or be more than necessary.... depending on my intent and how the actions were received. In other words, I came home constantly second-guessing if I was doing the right thing. Do I let the child cry over spilt milk, and thus express negative emotions.... or do I try to help them learn optimism and risk the accusation of putting a good face on a situation that is false? Do I have standards for behavior and set the bar high.... or do I let the kids do what they feel like and risk latter that they resent me for not teaching them social niceties? Do I use nicknames, as we have always done, or are they demeaning? Needless to say, I cried for about 48 hours straight when I got home. Freaked out my kids. Took a walk on our country road in the pitch black night, praying for 4 miles that the wandering mountain lion or rattlesnake would relieve me of my misery. Came home unscathed and disappointed. It was a sucky 40th birthday. At moments, I thought how symmetrical it would be to have the same dates for birth and death on my tombstone.

BUT I am coming out of the fog. More on specifics latter. But I am humbled by the prayers of friends, and I want you to know that Zoe tells us she is 90% committed to recovery. If I had to go through hell and be humbled to give her a shot at regaining life, then I don't care if a bunch of families I'll never see again think I am a nutcase.


Colleen said...

I want you to hang in there. I have been where you are, just two months ago. I felt as if my family--the most important thing in my world--had imploded and I was the cause. Even though I KNOW it was ED who was the unwelcome visitor...even though I KNOW my d's ED is genetic...even though I KNOW I've been a great parent...

I also knew...Our home was less tense when I was gone. Everyone was happier when I was out of town. If only we could get rid of one person, everything would be fine, and that person would be....me. The loving mom. The one who stood firm against ED. I have never felt so low in my life. Coming back from a business trip, I felt I could have WILLED the plane to turn around. Having the plane crash would have been a blessing. I welcomed every bit of turbulence and wished for more. Came home and thought about how I could kill myself and not have my family find my body. Even packed the car for my escape.

I remembered two things through this fog: one is that people who survive jumping from the Golden Gate bridge ALL say they regretted it as soon as they jumped, while they were falling. The other is our d's therapist talking about her own mother's suicide...that at the time of her death, she had no way of knowing that six weeks later, all the things that were so crushingly difficult would clear away and things turned out very differently than she expected.

I would urge you to get some help. I resisted this for a long time. Too long. I've switched therapists, and I rely on my pastor for spiritual and moral support. I'd say for me, my pastor has been the greatest help because he cares about me without getting paid to do it! That, and medication. It took me a long time to accept going on anti-depressants ("Why can't we just solve the problem--our d's ED--instead of drugging me?" was my rationale for avoiding them). They have really helped ease the anxiety and depression and allowed me to sleep better at night. That helps. And I know I won't be on them forever...it's just this sucky situation.

And here we are, eight weeks later. THINGS ARE BETTER. We are not where I want us to be, not by a long shot. All that's changed is that we are pointed in the right direction and we have started to tiptoe toward it. My d is slowly improving. The tension in our home is lower. I can see that I need to be here for my d's recovery, and to help knit the family back together again.

I woke up at 3 am two days ago with an unfamiliar feeling...what was this?...I couldn't get back to sleep. It took me all day to figure it out. It's JOY. Hope. Life. I feel like I have survived a very dark night of the soul and the sky is turning gray. The day will come. God is faithful and good.

Happy birthday anyway. I'm sorry you had such a dismal 40th. I had my 50th in August while ED was absolutely raging. It was awful, awful, awful, and I had planned to have a big party and so much fun. I refuse to let ED steal my 50th, though, so I'm just going to have a do-over next year. I suggest you do the same. We will be in a very different place by then.


marcella said...

As an ignorant Brit I'm still trying to work out which side those guys either side of you are on. I guess that very lack of understanding means that there are huge divisions between our experiences as parents even though we both happen to have eldest daughters with the same name and same devastating illness.

My lack of common experience with you does NOT give me the right to bully you and make you doubt yourself. I can't see how that's going to help you, your husband, your other children, or your daughter who is suffering from a largely biological disease.

May the fog continue to lift and your 41st year be one of healing and happiness for all of your family whether they go by nicknames or not.

Shannon said...

Hi - I read your post about your Family Week experience at RR...I wanted to share something that might be a help to you and your daughter. In February we launched MentorCONNECT, the first global online mentoring community that exists to provide free mentoring matches between people in strong recovery and people who need ongoing recovery support. We also offer a free Monday night chat support group. The power of mentoring as a part of the treatment team is explained in my new book, Beating Ana: How to Outsmart Your Eating Disorder and Take Your Life Back, and you can find out more information and see if it might be helpful to your daughter and to you at:

Thank you for your willingness to share information and your personal experiences so other families won't feel alone in their struggle.

Shannon Cutts for MentorCONNECT