I was babysitting an adorable, bright-eyed, 8 year-old Kat. Yes, the Kat you all know and love. Our parents were out for the evening. Kat was 8 years old, snuggling under a blanket on the couch watching a holiday figure skating program, and I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. Of course I wasn’t going to be eating, but mom had left specific instructions for a dinner that had to be made, and the job of making biscuits fell on me.
I was feeling particularly elated that day, having reached a new low weight, and particularly proud of my own self control for having fasted for an extended period of time undetected.
Yes, things were going great.
I just paused for about 5 minutes after writing that last sentence, trying to decide if I really want to expose one of my least proud moments to you… but I have decided, as I promised, to be honest with you, so here goes.
I had just finished making the dough for the biscuits when an intense craving to eat hit me. Insistent to resist the urge, I kept my eyes on the doughy mass, pulled out the rolling pin, and started cutting out biscuits. “Just don’t eat, just don’t eat” Ana kept whispering in my ear.
Somewhere in my clouded mind between Ana’s whispers not to eat, my blurring vision, and heart racing as decision time came – another voice, tiny, subtle, weak said “just eat a little – you can eat just a bite. It can’t be more than 30 calories.”
I grabbed a small piece of the floury dough and took a bite. It was gross, but I had to. I will never be able to explain why I had to – you have to experience that to know what it is, just like you have to experience an ED understand it.
Kat breezed through the kitchen, curls bouncing, pretending to be a figure skater, blissfully unaware of the internal crisis I was facing at the counter. She plopped herself back on the sofa with a cup of ginger ale.
I continued with the rolling pin. Just making biscuits. This should be easy, right? I needed another bite of dough. Just a small one. Then another. Then another. Then ANOTHER! Soon, another voice I had never heard before was screaming in my head “EAT THE DOUGH – EAT ALL OF IT FAST!” meanwhile Ana was saying “Just step away – don’t eat! STOP! You are such a failure!” And a third voice, much quieter and weaker was whispering, “what is this madness?”
The dough was gone.
I was shaking. I looked over at Kat, who had moved onto the floor with a small picnic she had made of ritz crackers and soda.
That was the day I met Mia.
At the end of the night, I made another (successful) batch of biscuits, made sure Kat had had the dinner mom had planned for her, and made sure she was bathed and in bed. I went to my room early to spend some quality time hating myself.
I am starting with this story because in order to be transparent with you, you need to first hear my confession – the confession that hurts me more than any other wound.
I owe Kat an apology for a wound that I can never heal. I introduced my best friends Ana and Mia to Kat. The three of us (myself, Ana, and Mia) were the cool big kids with the glamorous life and the skinny jeans and the dysfunctional eating habits Kat watched and learned from. Yes, Kat’s eating disorder is her own, and I’m not even sure how consciously aware she ever was of my own issues with Ana/Mia and EDNOS, but I also know that it could not have been easy for Kat to have been left at home alone while Ana and Mia babysat.
How many times did Ana, Mia and I sneer at that little girl Kat for happily eating her spaghetti dinner? Did we judge her for her weakness of eating, knowing we were better? I know we did. I remember that little girl – 4 years old - happily playing in the bathtub, caressing her round belly with water and loving herself just the way she was. I am sorry, Kat, for all of the times I left you home alone with Ana and Mia. KATE wasn’t there. I missed it.
EDs, if you hadn’t already noticed, tend to put you in your own little door-less glass box – “safe” from the world, but where no one can really touch you. I began the process of pulling myself out of the rubble of my shattered box of ice and glass, bleeding and gasping, around the same time Kat checked into the glass hotel, ready for her makeover.
Kat and I are 7 years apart. Kat has been experiencing her disorder about as long as I have been in recovery, which means that, we basically missed each other. I’m sorry that, in many ways, I failed you, Kat. And whenever YOU are ready to check out of that glass hotel, I’ll be waiting here. And while we both know I can’t help you chisel your way out, I promise I will be waiting here with oxygen, towels, band aids and gauze to apply pressure to your wounds and keep you breathing through the long and hard recovery process. I won’t let you down again.
I love you. I miss you. I’m sorry.
And I can’t wait to really meet you someday.
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