Monday, December 28, 2009

Dear Kat, I’m Sorry.

Almost exactly ten years ago, on a snowy December evening, I was at my lowest weight. There were other things going on that day besides my existing as a thin person, but I didn’t realize it until last night when the memories came flooding back.

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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  1. Don't be too hard on yourself. I have two girls myself and I can tell you that at 8, even 13 they are completely unaware - cognitively - of your actions.
    Sure girls can be impressed at skinny legged jeans and fun of teenagers, older girls, but they will get that same example handed to them in Middle School and High School. Even late Elementary school girls will start developing these ideals.

    Most girls develop eating disorders when they finally begin noticing other people and their surroundings.
    Many of us with ED's have put together, at a younger age that skinny equals beauty, fun, friends, boys and most importantly - attention.

    That is the problem attraction to this lifestyle.
    Who doesn't love attention? WHO doesn't want to feel beautiful, to be noticed? To be or think they are perfect, and the best?
    It's a hard thing to come out of.

    I was once there. I too was recovered. I am happily recovered from Mia, but I am still not free from Ana and I do not want to be at this time.
    I just can't find happiness in being what I consider fat. Nor can I just mask my disorder into something else as about 90% of Ana/Mias do.

    Most recovery people I meat, have just taken their control and vanity issues and forced it into another addiction. Most of them turn into fitness freaks or health nuts watching every ounce of food still but playing it off as being "healthy" and "organic"
    Call it what you want, but it's still a control game, sill based in vanity. That, to me is NOT recovered.

    IF you are truly recovered you don't mind being a bit pudgy, eating some oreos without guilt and happily munching on food, drinks and snacks while out with friends.
    TRUE recovery is being OK doing all of those thing without a care. No worrying. Go out to the movies, grab some popcorn and a candy bar without ONE, 1 teeny tiny thought to how it will effect your body and THAT is recovery.

    I was for over 7 years and I have fallen back in love with the look, and the feel of forcing my body to bend to my wishes. I can't even believe I was once happy go lucky, eating as I wished.. I can't believe Ana was trapped somewhere in my brain that whole time.
    I have dealt with ED behavior since I was about 14 years old.
    I am now just plain old.. and still dealing with these issues. for over 15 years (on and off) I have dealt with Ana first, then Mia when I'd mess up. 7 years recovered and now 4 months into Ana/or heavy restriction.
    I'm not sure it can ever truly end.

    I commend you for staying strong in your own way though. If you can stay recovered, true recovered.. then that's wonderful.

  2. My mom babysits a little girl who just turned 3. Sometimes she just sits there and stares at me when i eat (in all my weird, specific ways), and i know i've returned the favor, wishing i could just eat without caring like she does... I hope she doesn't learn from me.

  3. It must be so hard to feel as though you were a contributing factor to your sister's difficulties. I'm in recovery from anorexia and I know my friend feels as though it's because of her that I got ill (She was EDNOS) but I truely feel as though I would have got anorexia whether or not she was ill. Chances are you sister feels the same. But anyway, try not to dwell on the past. The important thing now is supporting her in recovery and being there for her. Good luck xx

  4. It wasn't you Kate. You know I never noticed any of it. I didn't know...I suspected when I got older, because I remembered the things you said, the times I hear you in the bathroom assuming you had the flu. Now that I was involved in that lifestyle, I saw it in your past. That was the only time I knew. I don't think you had anything to do with it. Don't blame yourself, please. I love you.


  5. People who think that being around this stuff doesn't affect them they are kidding themselves. Being an ED means the way you think and talk not just that you throw up and starve. It's contagious. That's why we're all here.

  6. This was incredibly touching. However much I may not want to be "recovered" (I see no point in it for me in this stage of my life), I can't deny the validity of points you make, and of the raw emotion with which you make them.

  7. Don't blame such a thing on your self. I realize seeing someone else come to the same place you were can be hard. To know that this girl is following in YOUR footsteps. Its hard NOT to blame yourself.

    But a person choice is her own. She didn't have to succumb to ana or mia. She did.

    You are strong to apologize, too see fault even if it is not there. It shows character..and a true.

    Bless you!

  8. Your post made me cry.
    I want you to be the big sister I never had.

    I want to get better. I really do.
    Believe that.

    But my eating disorder is such an integral part of me. I don't know how to live without it, I can't even imagine it, and I don't think I'm ready to try.

    I think it's great though, what you're doing with this blog - I will be a devoted reader for sure.
    Thank you
    Ophelia xxx

  9. Kate,
    Thanks for the comment on my blog. If you ever need help glamorizing your page let me know. :)

    I admire your strength at being able to walk away from Ana, but I just don't think I am at that place in my life yet. :)

  10. Don't worry, dear ones. I expect that I understand better than most, how truly connected to ana/mia/ednos you feel. I think people misunderstand recovery. They think it means eating. No wonder recovery sounds so ridiculous, right? Have hope. xoxoxo

  11. I don't think I misunderstand me it just seems like going backwards. back to nothing. Ana defines me. It gives me a place to fit in. Something to strive for. Perfection.

    Why would I give that up?? I tried to add you to AIM btw. lol

  12. Thank you Kate. That was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
    I've always worried my food issues would rub off onto the innocent and impressionable around me.

  13. 2 emi jay what you define as recovery sounds very difficult to me. I mean there are people out there like my sister who don't have an eating disorder but work out a lot and watch what the eat to stay healthy. If you don't watch what you eat and don't worry about how your weight is you'll turn obese and that's an ilness to.

    For people who watch what they eat it's about control to but it's not the same as ana/mia because ana and mia rip you off from your friends and can hurt you in a way that being so called healthy could never do. And still as much as they can hurt you it's very difficult to live without them

  14. Kate, please look at my blog i know you commented last post and i would be grateful if you check out my new one. Your blog is beautiful. <3
    ~Riki Ana

  15. wow Kate, writing obviously runs in the family.
    you put all the mumbojumbo in my head into WORDS here in this blog!
    Thank you,
    love Katie

  16. I've been lurking these posts since you took over.

    You're a truly amazing inspiration. I'd kill to be as strong as you and choose to recover, but the truth is I'm not. Maybe one day I will see what I am really doing. I would've never chosen this path for myself if I knew what I was getting myself in to.

    I'm looking forward to your posts.

    Ariana xoxo

  17. You have the same annoying writing style as Kat, which makes me think you are who you say you are. The content keeps me coming back, but the way the both of you write is irritating. Its as if you are trying to tell a story instead of just telling it.

  18. I stumbled upon your blog an hour ago and have been reading reading reading since then! This post in particular was so painful to read, it almost made me cry. I have a younger sister and feel such guilt for the things she saw while I was deeply entrenched in anorexia, the horrible things I exposed her to. I may have let her down, but I hope as I recover I'll be there for her more in the future. Thanks for this post. I can't wait to keep reading!