Letter to my daughter: Mom has an eating disorder
Courageous & Brave. These are the two words I use to describe the post you are about to read.
Love2EatInPA, a recovered binger who shared her story anonymously here on her blog at Confessions of a Complusive Eater. She and I discussed this topic quite a bit behind the scenes in the past few weeks, because we have daughters the same age and we both have recovered from an ED.
Needless to say, this is a topic close to my heart. I am concerned about how our blog discussions impact our children. As much as I am all for being real and open with our kids, these topics are deep seeded, and not always easily discussed and explained. But as parents, and body image activists, we have a major responsibility to make sure we are addressing these topics with our kids sooner rather than later. Never assume they don’t know what is going on, our children are very intuitive; they see what you are not doing, they sense your demeanor around food, and they hear every single criticism you make about your self and your body.
Our hope is you will read this loving letter Love2EatInPA wrote to her daughter, and then spend some time thinking about your children and all the kids in your life, to determine if it is time to start talk about these topics if you have not already.
My Dearest Daughter,
Mommy wants to share something with your about herself that I think you are old enough and mature enough to understand. This is something that is private and personal. It is just between you, daddy and me. We will talk to your little brother when he is a little older when he will be old enough to understand. This is not something that you should talk to your friends about or other members or our family, it’s just between the three of us because we know that we can trust you to keep it private. If you want to talk to the school guidance counselor about it, you can, but no other adults or kids, ok? Do you have any questions about that?
Do you know what an eating disorder is? …. Eating disorders are an illness, something that people have inside them, something that they can’t control without a lot of help and hard work. You will probably hear about them in school, you will probably have friends who have them. There is anorexia, bulimia and compulsive eating.
Mommy has an eating disorder. Mommy is a compulsive eater. This is mommy’s issues, not yours. It started in my childhood. That means for 30 years or so, Mommy has had an addiction to food. For a long, long time, mommy would eat tons of food, even when I wasn’t hungry. That is called bingeing. I did not listen to my body about when I was hungry and when I was full. I would sneak food, hide food and make myself sick from eating too much.
Long before I met daddy and before you were born, mommy’s weight got very high many times. I would lose weight and gain weight. I was unhealthy and didn’t feel very good about myself. It is a terrible feeling to stuff yourself with food until you sick, yet I somehow couldn’t stop. That’s what compulsive means, it means you don’t think at all, you just do it. In my case, I would eat a lot of food without thinking about what I was doing. Again, this is mommy’s problem, not yours. Do you understand what compulsive overeating means? Do you have any questions about it?
I’m trying very hard to recover from my eating disorder. Thank goodness, mommy has not binged for over two years now. I have lost weight by not binging and by going to the gym. I got my weight down to a place that my body feels good, strong and comfortable. With daddy’s support and yours too, I can continue to work through this and keep getting better. I know that you see me weighing and measuring my food portions. I weigh and measure my food because I don’t want to lose or gain weight; I know just how much my body needs to keep at my weight. Does any of this surprise you? What do you think when you see me weighing and measuring?
Mommy and daddy are scared that the things you see me doing, as I’m trying to recover my eating disorder, are affecting you and how you may feel about yourself. Is that true? Can you share with us your feelings about that?
You are smart, funny, creative and a great daughter. We want you to have self confidence in yourself and proud of who you are. Mommy and Daddy are certainly very proud of the person that you are. Those are things that are on the inside of you. On the outside, you are a beautiful girl. You should feel great and comfortable with your body. Mommy and daddy have told you this before, but you can be anything you want in your life, whatever you set your mind out to do.
I know you see mommy sitting at the computer a lot and have probably heard me talking about blogging or my blog. I started a blog a few months ago about my eating disorder, because it is very helpful for me to write down, or journal, about my feelings about this eating disorder. I have found that there are a lot of women out there who have similar problems with food, so it’s great to ‘talk’ and share with people who understand. These people help me and I help them as well, which is a great feeling.
Do you have any questions or is there more that I can explain to you?