We were almost 2 years into my daughter’s recovery from Anorexia. Life had regained an almost normal rhythm.
Except, it wasn’t normal. Because my daughter, at age 14, had zero control over her meals and the food she ate.
Because of me.
I made all of her food.
I plated her plate for all of her meals.
I made her breakfast.
I packed her lunches.
I made her dinners.
I told her when to have a snack. Sometimes, I told her what to have for a snack.
I took every ounce of her control dealing with food away.
Because 2 years ago, she had been a very sick little girl at the hands of an eating disorder. An eating disorder who wanted to kill her.
An eating disorder who weakened her heart and her body.
An eating disorder who owned her thoughts and her actions.
An eating disorder who would not stop until it had won.
And if the eating disorder won, then that meant we had lost.
And in losing, it meant we lost her.
A parent’s worst nightmare.
Anorexia is a disease.
A deadly disease.
And there is one medicine.
Food nourishes the body and the brain.
Food weakens Anorexia.
Once the body and the brain are fully nourished, Anorexia has trouble surviving.
The amazing, life saving cure for my daughter.
Re-feeding her was not easy. It was hard. It was scary. It was isolating. But it was worth it.
The nourishment fueled her body and her brain, it pushed Anorexia out the door.
And put her into recovery.
A beautiful and safe place to be.
We had fallen into such a comfortable pattern.
I made all of the food.
My daughter ate what I gave her.
It worked really well during the early stages of her recovery.
And it still worked well now.
It was comfortable for the both of us.
Except for one thing…..
My daughter wasn’t learning to feed herself.
I knew this, in the back of my mind. But, I struggled to give her back any control.
Fear of the eating disorder coming back.
Fear of the chaos the eating disorder causes.
Fear of losing the calm in our home.
Fear that the eating disorder could win.
Fear that I could loose her.
If I made all of her meals
If I made sure she was well nourished
If I made sure she had the medicine that she needed
If I had that control
I could keep her safe.
I could protect her.
I could save her from Anorexia.
Despite me having all of this control, a couple months ago, she lost weight.
Weight loss in a child who is in recovery from Anorexia is terrifying.
As a mom, the weight loss sparked panic and anxiety inside of me. For a moment, the feelings I had felt when she was first diagnosed came flooding back.
This time I knew more. I had knowledge. I had tools. I had support. I had what I needed to help my daughter.
And with the help of our therapist, we have pushed through this set-back. And we will continue to push forward.
Set-backs happen. Recovery is not linear.
A set-back is not failure. Sometimes a set-back gives us the chance to re-set and move forward.
Our set-back, gave my daughter and me the chance to re-set the path of her treatment and her recovery.
It was a re-set that we needed to have. But one that I was afraid of.
During a recent family therapy session my daughter said 10 key words in reference to the food she eats. She said:
If you don’t let me try, I’ll never learn how.
My daughters words. Not the eating disorder’s words.
And you know what?
She. Is. Right.
She is going to grow up.
She is going to move out of our house someday.
She is going to have to feed herself.
She is no longer at a critical spot in her recovery.
She needs to learn.
She needs the tools.
She needs to know how to be independent.
Very scary for this mama.
Food is what keeps my daughter out of Anorexia’s harmful ways.
Food is her medicine.
Food saved her.
Food that I have had control over, to ensure she has enough nutrition.
To give up that control, is terrifying…..yet necessary for her to continue in her recovery.
It is time for her to learn. She is ready. I know she can do this.
For the first time in 2 years, she packed her own school lunch. I sat in the kitchen with her. She showed me everything she packed. She asked questions like:
Is that enough?
Should I add more?
How does it look?
There was no fear or anger in her voice. As there once would have been when the eating disorder was present.
She was calm. She was excited. She was proud.
She was in control. Not the eating disorder.
We still have a long ways to go. We might have more set-backs along the way. And with those set-backs, we will re-set and push forward.
I have watched my daughter be brave throughout her treatment and her recovery.
Now it is my turn to be brave.
I will push through my fear.
I will be brave.
I will help her take back the control.
We will push forward to a full recovery.
We will do it together.
Today, we took one small step in her recovery
One giant leap in her independence and healing.