Saturday, April 05, 2008
Recovering from anorexia: a parent's journey
I've come to realize that this is the year I'm recovering from our family's struggle with anorexia. It's been just about three years since my daughter Kitty got sick. She's been physically healthy for nearly two years, and mentally healthy for almost that long. She's happy, engaged in the world, healthy in every measure. For her, anorexia is thankfully in the past.
For me, though, it still feels very present. It took me a while to realize this because things are so positive.
It's little things that trigger the feelings for me right now. Things like the image above, which appeared in our local paper recently as part of an article about a student art show at the university here. It's called "The Fruit Eaters," by student Aniela Sobienski, and looking at it puts me right back in the land of anorexia.
Another trigger: Last night we went to see the movie Miss Pettigrew Lives for the Day. Great movie, about a proper middle-aged woman who finds herself in unusual circumstances. (Go see it. It's worth it.) Every time the main character tries to eat something it escapes her--it falls on the ground, someone knocks the food out of her hand, etc. In one scene she's having a facial; the attendant puts two slices of cucumber on her eyes and walks out. Closeup to her face, which is covered in goo that makes it look bizarre and distorted. Miss Pettigrew looks around and then eats the two cucumber slices. The look on her face is positively blissful.
Me? I was right back in anorexia land.
Maybe some of this reaction is because I am writing the book about our family's experience that I've been wanting to write for a while. It's a useful catharsis for me and, I hope, useful for others.
I can't imagine what this process of recovery is like for parents who have been pushed out of their child's recovery. Who have been the victims of "parentectomy." I am so grateful that we went the route we did in helping our daughter through anorexia.