Three years ago I took in three children in need. My son’s cousins. They call me Aunt Audra, all though we are not biologically related I would gladly lay my life down for them, and I did. The youngest is now back with his father and thriving and seeing him over his seventh birthday did the heart a great justice. The middle girl is still struggling, is with the bio mom (a story for another time). My girl chose to stay with me. Asked the courts to place her with me permanently and because she is now 16 they did. She said I was the only one that could help her. I think she is wrong, I think she is going to prove how wrong she is.
I first noticed her eating “issues” when her dad came back from Mexico last year. She started working out after every meal. Slowly limiting what she was eating. At first it looked like normal teenage behavior, a girl just wanting to have a six pack figure for summer (unrealistic but socially normal). She would run around the yard with the dogs, do some sit ups, and talk about winning things in her PE class. But then she kept losing weight, and stopped eating all together.
I talked to her caseworker, her therapist, her father, her school. I talked to anyone who would listen for six months about how to get her help. I talked and yelled and cried for someone to see what I was seeing. No one seemed to notice. No one really notices eating disorders until they are scary and life consuming. And then it was scary and life consuming. The vibrant, beautiful and healthy teenage girl was gone and a walking skeleton was her replacement. Under 100 lbs, sunken eyes, grey skin, chapped lips, unable to even carry on a conversation because her brain wasn’t even getting the calories it needed. She went to two inpatient facilities, none that treated her eating disorder because there are none of those local, and none are inpatient.
She came out of the last one saying she was ready for help. I got her a counselor that specializes in treating eating disorders, I got her a dietician. She gained weight. She did the work. I got guardianship . She relapsed, big time (this is where we are now). She is under 90lbs. She is cutting herself. She is hiding fit bits on her ankles to hide them from me. She is writing in notebooks how to zero out the 300 calories she consumed in a single day, she is sneaking out in the night to run laps around the barn. She is killing herself in front of me and I have no idea what else I can do. I have grounded her from all her technology. This is her only motivation to do anything remotely healthy for herself even if it is superficial. She is chewing her food and spitting it in a trash bag in her room and hiding it.
She was suppose to do a summer art camp starting this morning and my car broke down. She is broken down. I am broken down. We are broken. Without the money and resources in our area I have no idea how to keep her alive, how to fix my car and how to raise my four year old without fucking him up in the middle of all of this. I am resentful today and sad and heartbroken and just want to scream at her that she is not the only one dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD and trauma but some of us do not have the luxury of giving up. I know she has a sickness, I know she no longer has control over her mind or her eating disorder. I do know that and I would never blame her for trying to gain any sort of control or sense of herself in her life because I know what hell she comes from but FUCK. This is hard.
Parenting is so fucking brutal sometimes. Sometimes love isn’t enough.
2 thoughts on “Grounding the Anorexic”
I have had anorexia since at least 12, I am now 51. Your anguish can be felt through your words. My life has been unhappy, lonely & heartbreaking I hope she can get out of it. I only starve myself no exercise or counting just restriction. My mom tried to get me help & it was to no avail. Eating disorders are powerful, they are all about control & letting that go is not easy. Sadly there s not one thing you can do or say to get her to stop, it’s all on her. For yourself though if you can find it support is a must. There may be support groups locally, Or on zoom. I am doing my best to work a 12 step program Eating Disorders Anonymous ( EDA ) & also Anorexic & Bulimic Anonymous (ABA ) both have resources online & in the books for family. She is too young for these programs as of yet, I am hopeful you can find some help there. A lot of people freak out over the god thing mentioned in these programs, god is only a word used to describe a higher power, it is absolutely not god based. A higher power is anything you, she or I want it to be. I have heard people talk about a tree, the ocean a bird as the there higher power. Please don’t it deter you. Healing vibes to you & your family ❤️
Thank you so much for your support and sharing. I will definitely look into the groups. I didn’t realize they had EDA I’ve done CODA for years!