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Dear Mom and Dad, Thank you for saving my life

published by permission of the author, Kinsey Ouellette

To my parents and all the parents of children with eating disorders:

Dear Mom and Dad, Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for loving me enough to allow me to hate you. Thank you for fighting my battle when I couldn’t or just didn’t want to. Thank you for choosing recovery for me before I could chose it for myself.

To all the parents out there who are in this fight with their child, don’t give up! Don’t wait for your child to choose or want their own recovery because let’s just be honest: it’s not going to happen, and if it eventually does, it might be too late. Don’t let the fear of losing or damaging your child’s love for you keep you from fighting– the love will come back deeper and stronger when they are healthy, alive, and in recovery. It is not your child that hates you; it is the illness that has taken them hostage. Think of their disorder as a person; when your child is yelling, screaming, throwing things, refusing to eat, negotiating meals, whatever it may be, you are not witnessing or dealing with your actual child, you are face-to face with the personification of their disorder. This hate comes from a losing eating disorder so just remember that the more hate you feel, the better job you are doing. Be more worried when your child likes you because ED must be happy about something. Stand strong and unwavering when you are confronted with the demons and struggles you and your child face every day, every meal.

It is so important to remember that your sick child is not your child. When I was sick, I was not me. Anorexia turned me into a lifeless, vacant, unpleasant, and unloving version of myself. It must be the scariest thing for a parent to look at their child but not actually see them; to just see them disappearing more and more each day, both mind and body. It’s crazy to hear people talk about the way they saw me slowly coming back to life through my weight restoration journey. They tell me how they could see it in my eyes, how they once appeared soulless and empty, but were finally full of the life and personality they always loved again. Keep fighting so you too can experience this with your child.

I always say that my parents have probably put in just as much work for my recovery as I have, especially at the beginning. Recovery is one of the hardest things a person can do, and just simply choosing recovery is even harder. This is why family based treatment and parent involvement is so crucial in a successful recovery. Just as my parents did, you have to want their recovery before they can want it for themselves, you have to choose their recovery for them before they can choose it for themselves, and you have to be their motivation before they find their own. Recovery is not a simple, linear, or easy journey but it is worth it.

Sincerely, Kinsey Ouellette

5 Comments

  1. Kathryn

    Kinsey…I just want to say thank you. For sharing your truth, for the best ever recovery cake photo shoot and for holding the light so high millions of kiddos can follow the path you have set out on. Thank you for your recovery and much love from this mama bear. You are amazing! 😘

  2. A Sad Mom

    thank you for your well written reflection. you’ve inspired me and given me hope. i am in the darkness and destructive infancy of this journey with my AN daughter.

    keep eating. keep living. keep healing.

  3. Val

    As a mom that lived with the demon that possessed my teen daughter, I can attest that my recovered/in remission daughter is in full agreement with your letter and could have written this herself. For parents in the midst of it, Ms. Ouellette is correct in that at the very worst of times, you are actually doing the best to slay the demons. It is horrible and terrible, and I am so blessed to have a healthy, happy and appreciative daughter now.

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