Hoe, Hoe, Hoe

What do you say when your grandmother brings her married boyfriend over for Christmas?

Trick question.

              Nothing.

                       You say nothing.

                                          But you do get very, very drunk.

 

So, let me paint the scenario for you. My grandmother had invited herself over, and had decided as well that she was going to bring her boyfriend.

My sister and I ran to the store, she wanted needed hummus and I needed wanted wine. We come home, and my dog decided to get in the trash. I carry up the much needed items, which magically also included Ben and Jerry’s Almond milk ice cream too. Then went to clean up the trash.

Then I hear the car.

I gathered myself, regretting that I hadn’t downed the entire bottle of wine the moment I stepped foot in the house. I took a deep breath for composure, and walked into the line of sight.

Grandma tried to get me to hug the strange man, I nicely declined, claiming, “Looks like he has his arms full.”

The moment we were back in the house I dug through the drawers searching for the corkscrew, which seems to only make its appearance when I come home. I poured red wine into a very large coffee mug, trying to be slightly discreet, hoping grandma wouldn’t notice I needed to be intoxicated to deal with her. Walking down the hallway I run into my mom. I offer her the mug of wine. She quickly inhales half of it. My brother walks around the corner and inhales the rest. Here I stand, still sober as a judge.

I quickly inhaled red wine, and could feel it in no time at all, being on an empty stomach.

Grandma doing the fake laugh, I could hear her mumbling and talking shit from the kitchen. I was pouring myself another mug of wine.

Her boyfriend, whom I didn’t care enough for to even learn his name was not only still married, but was 12 years younger than her, and was a condescending prick.

Granted, I don’t even know how to describe what I do for a living without sounding pretentious, but he was just being a smug prick.

In no time at all mom and grandma were picking a fight about all of grandma’s boyfriends. Grandma was talking trash about our family. What’s-His-Fuck has to butt in with his two sense that nobody wanted or asked for.

With that my brother and I snuck off to get some air, as the wine was still flowing through my system.

I hadn’t been that drunk in a long time. I remember sitting on my brother’s floor eating a Larabar. Talking about our trashy grandmother, and her weird creep boyfriend, and having a midlife crisis about what to do with my life.

My brother went to the living room briefly, and came back to his room, informing me they had left.

With mumbled words, I asked if I should go hurry and say goodbye. He said not to worry about it.

The feeling of disbelief and confusion came over me.

In almost the same way as telling someone, “I went home for Christmas and it was chaotic. My grandmother brought her married boyfriend over.” He responded, “I understand.”  

 

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Eating Disorders Impact Loved Ones, Not Just the Individual

I’ve been told, more times than I can count, that I need to “get mad at ED.”

The crazy thing is, I just can’t get mad at his impact on my life. It helped me cope, for years! Gave me something to cling to.

Would I go back in time and change it all? No, I’ve learned a lot.

Would I voluntarily go through it all again? Not Likely At All.

I am annoyed though. For the hell and havoc it put the people close to me through.

Unable to go out to eat with my best friend. Her standing outside the bathroom door while I puke on the cruise. Her concern for me and watching me day in and day out run and abuse her best friend. Watching me pick at the salad during our family dinners, or the look on her face when I make eye contact after I come out of the bathroom, ashamed of what I had just done. On our beach trips, when I would still get up and force myself to run, or would leave the hotel room at ten at night to go to the gym in an attempt to burn off what I had consumed.

To my brother, who no longer went on sushi dates with his sister because I was no longer able to keep it down. Fear of rice, cream cheese and by this point, foods in general. I never meant for this to get to you. You would ask me when we would go out, I would make up any excuse in the book. Please know, I was never avoiding you, I was avoiding food.

My dear sister, I hope you learn from my mistakes. Our 5k races were the highlight of our weekends. Do not run and work out because you “have to”, I want you to love and enjoy it. I hope and pray I never pushed you too hard or too far.

Mom, we had our ups and downs, many downs. You didn’t want me to go to treatment, I know this, you made it clear. ED became more important than you, or even life. I skipped Thanksgiving this year, and it meant a lot that you were understanding of it. Knowing I was in a good place, but didn’t want to put myself in that situation.

YOU, on the other hand, I’m not sure if I can ever forgive you. As long as I can remember you were my life, I was your princess. Grandma, you supported me when, at the age of 5, I wanted to be a vet. You believed in me at 13 when I wanted to become a lawyer. Thrilled, when I decided at 19 to pursue dentistry.

Then, practically disowned me at the age of 21, when I went into treatment. That was when I needed your love and support the most. We still haven’t talked and I’m not sure if our relationship will ever be the same. I think you hated ED more than I ever could. You were angry with my eating disorder and took it out on me.

To my professors, I never meant to worry you. Commenting on how I’m getting smaller, passing me on campus while I’m running, even though you just left the class of yours that I skipped- again. Some of you went so far to physically drive me to a restaurant for lunch just so you could watch me eat and help. I picked at the veggies. There was the time you offered me your lunch, “as long as you’ll actually eat it.” I declined your offer. Your support to keep me on track while doing school while in treatment. The shock some of you had when you realized I hadn’t dropped my classes, and was still scheduled to graduate on time. Yet, you guys believed in me and sing my praises to current students.

T, the times I was doing well, and the times that kicked my ass, you were there. You are so supportive, encouraging, and my biggest advocate. Sometimes it’s all I can do to not call you just crying, so unsure of myself and decisions. I fear you will think I’m too wishy-washy for recovery. ED has dug his claws into our relationship too many times. I visualize you doing the dance and cheers when things are good, and a disappointed lowering shake of the head when it’s bad. It is scary to question you own (well, seemingly own) thoughts and doubt your own capabilities.

You’ve seen the scars, the tears, the successes. We’ve gone on walks, gone to breakfast, lunch, given me reading material. ED still wants to fuck with you and I’m sorry.

There comes a time where you have to want recovery for yourself and your life- I’m there. I want a happy, fulfilling life, without an eating disorder. I’m scared to be given up on, lose faith in me. One day you will wake up and no longer care. ED will pipe up and blame my weight for the reason you left.

I can’t even write down the words, “I’m sorry” doesn’t cover it, and guilt doesn’t fully describe it.

When I take a step back, it hurts me to see how much ED has impacted you all.

That is what bothers me the most.

I was unable to hide it and protect you all from the ugly wrath of ED.

Left only to my imagination of the exhausting feelings you are left with after an encounter with my eating disorder and I. Being annoyed and hurt by my blatant snarky sass. Wanting to help while simultaneously wanting to throw your hands in the air in defeat. The uncertain feeling of helplessness. Wanting to help, to make it better, wishing it to go away for me. Yet, unable to do so. Knowing that through it all, it is left to me and my decision.

When your support and influence impact my next decision, I hope you feel a glimmer of hope, knowing I’m still under there.

 

Like A Bad Dream

When you have an eating disorder there is no easy way to deal or manage family dinners. It’s even worse when you have to drive nearly two hours to go to a dinner you don’t even want to go to.

As she drove the excruciating long two hours to her Grandmother’s house she wanted nothing more than to just turn around and head home. Her head filled of selfish, self hating, food thoughts and played over a hundred fictional situations in her head, “Let’s waste my own gas and drive two hours out of the way to go sit and eat in front of people. This is dumb, I don’t even want to go eat. I don’t want to sit down with my family and eat.” “I could be home, reading, at the gym, napping, hell, I could be out on the lake. ANYTHING.” They played over and over. The first thing to break her brutal cycle of thoughts, “Can I use your hairspray?”, came a peep from the backseat. In the rear view she sees her little sister, Liz, a spitting image of a younger her. “Huh? Oh sure babe, it should be in my gym bag.” She dug and found it, then continued to sip on her Starbucks cookie crumble frapp, her blue sparkling eyes looking back at her big sister. The cycle of thoughts continued, realizing how very content and satisfied she would have been to just have her coffee and not go to dinner at all.

After arriving to grandma’s she had found the rest of her family had beat her there. Her parents were inside, while her brother, Jon, did flips in the front yard. Talking and polite conversation continued for a few minutes, then it was off to eat. Jonathan, being a teenager, was a bottomless pit, with an appetite that was insatiable. He got to pick dinner, why? she would never know. Without even missing a beat he chose an Asian buffet.

“Why don’t I just jump off a bridge now.” She thought to herself.

When they got to dinner all she could look at were the hoards of people, all swarming the buffet, the tables that had stacks and stacks and plates. The never silent voice of the ED reminded her how all of them were staring at her, watching her. It pointed out that with each plate that the people were stacking up was inches on their waist, miles needing to be ran. The family was seated near the back, while Jonathan and dad went for food, grandma, mom and Liz sat there talking. When it was her turn Liz grabbed her and headed for the sushi. She too grabbed a plate full and some green beans, hoping that for once she would win against the voice that had haunted her for years. As she looked at the sushi, she began to feel physically nauseous, and handed half of them to her brother who was already making is way through his own mound. After picking at two pieces of sushi and the green beans she took a break to calm her anxious self down and make polite conversation.

Her mother and grandmother both looked at her plate of three pieces of sushi and the green beans, and looked at each other. They both knew about her struggle, but were both too busy to ever care to be bothered by it. Like everything else, it was ignored, swept under the rug, and never spoken of. Jonathan showed Grandma the picture we had taken together earlier, of a 14 year old boy with his 21 year old sister on his back, to which she responds with, “Well, yeah, since she barely weighs anything.” That was the start of it. Mom took another glance at her daughter’s plate and said, “I hope you are eating more than that.” All she wanted, was to be home, or at least back in the car drinking her now lukewarm cup of coffee.

On the next trip up to the buffet, hand in hand with her 9 year old sister who eats more than she does. She skimmed the endless rows of “fear foods” and surveyed the other people to see if anyone knew her. She sat back down at the table with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and curry chicken. Also feeding half of that to her brother, she picked at it, while Liz began to put mushrooms on her plate; the two of them loved mushrooms.

Dinner continued like that, a war zone in her own head with each bite she took, feeling nauseous, regret, and embarrassed, still believing she was being watched. Towards the end, the waiter came with a handful of fortune cookies. Jonathan took one, Liz took one, Grandma took one, and she hesitantly did the same . Cracking it open, Jonathan read his, “Your efforts have not gone unnoticed”, it said. She looked down at hers, did an ironic laugh under her breath and looked away, trying to not cry or throw up. She txted Jonathan across the table, it read, “My fortune is dumb as hell.” He read the message then looked across the table, asking aloud, “What was it?”  She looked up, trying to choke back tears, and reluctantly answered, “It says I shouldn’t eat so much.” Another quick glance was exchanged between mom and grandma and they both replied with a “Nuh, Uh.”

“Moderate your appetite so that with a little you may be content.”

Jonathan, laughed and responded with a “We definitely got the wrong ones, here switch with me!”Image

The ride home was nothing but her and ED, arguing the entire way home. The two hour ride made it even worse, and at one point, the tears streaming down her face matched the pace of the rain falling outside against the sunroof.

Man, yesterday sucked.