I’m not a teenager or even a young adult. I’m thirty-four years old and recovering from an eating disorder. A lot of times when we see portrayals of eating disorders or recovery from them we see young teenage girls, and their mothers who are trying desperately to help their daughters overcome them. My situation is a little different. I’m much older, married and haven’t even lived in the same state as my mother in almost ten years. She isn’t going to every doctors appointment with me or filing my medical bills. She isn’t arguing with a therapist about how this happened or spoon-feeding me my meals when I have the urge to restrict again. Being older and going through recovery means that I don’t depend on my mother the way I might have if I was younger, however my mother has been a steady ROCK for me as I recover and I would like to take the time (and this blog) to acknowledge that! So, a letter to my mother in honor of mothers day...
We live miles apart and are only able to speak through phone calls and long weekend visits, but you have managed to support me throughout my recovery regardless. From the moment I decided to enter treatment you encouraged me and told me I could do it. There have been SO many moments when I felt like quitting and after a phone call with you I was convinced to keep going.
I will never forget going to Ireland, four months into treatment, and feeling the safety to eat meals without exercise again and try fear foods with you. You modeled normalcy when if came to meals for me and I am so grateful for that. You don’t diet talk or cut out food groups or talk about burning calories. You just eat, like a normal human being and you are someone that I look up to and try to be like as I recover. I was able to laugh until I cried on that trip, even though I was going through the hardest time in my life.
When I started to gain weight and then continued to gain more and more weight you never made me feel bad about it. You never judged my body or made me feel insecure about it. So many mom's out there do this, but you didn't. You let me know that my work with the youth group, my role as a wife and as a Godly woman is what is most important, not my weight. You always told me that recovering was the most important thing and to let my body heal.
When I called you in tears over and over again because yet another person called me pregnant you were kind to me and showed me compassion. You understood the pain of these comments, not just that I was embarrassed about my body but also about the fact that I am not a mother and it is hurtful. You also gave me some of the best advice I have received throughout this entire process and it was to stop hiding my recovery. You told me to start telling people what I was going through and when I did the pregnancy comments almost immediately stopped. Thank you for that!
When I felt insecure about going on a missions trip, you encouraged me to go. When I felt embarrassed to go to the beach you were there and encouraged me to go. When I was going through times of deep depression you encouraged me to get up, get dressed, put some makeup on, clean my house, make something new for dinner, get out of the house, and just plane MOVE!
When I get down on myself and say things like, “I will never feel good again,” or “I may never be a mother because of the damage from my eating disorder,” you always remind me of who God is and how I never know what he has in store for me and encourage me out of my negative thoughts.
Time after time I have received bad news from a doctor, and you have been there to help calm me down. You are able to stay steady and wise when I am frantic and overwhelmed. (Even if in the moment it drives me insane!!! haha)
Your encouragement has been a blessing, but it’s not the most important and best thing about you.
The most important blessing I have ever received having you as a mother is that you have shown me what it is to be a woman of faith. You have been a model of what it means to be a Proverbs 31 woman. You have shown me how to be faithful in hard circumstances. When I am tired and weary you have always pointed me right back to God’s word to find my hope and energy. You are constantly sending me scripture, devotionals, sermons, or quotes rooted in the word and each of these have helped me to continue through this arduous journey that is recovery. You encouraged me to join BSF and go every week, even though I don’t feel well. You check in with me to see what I’m learning and make sure I’m growing in my faith. It may seem like this has nothing to do with my recovery, but it has everything to do with my recovery. It keeps my mind on what really matters and continues to renew my hope.
I get SO many comments about how strong I am. Well Mom, I am strong because you have modeled strength and you have also taught me where our strength comes from.
You support me through prayer. I know how much you pray for me and ask others to pray for me as well. I am so thankful for these prayers and I know that God hears them.
When it comes to being your daughter, I think the best thing about being thirty-four, is I can now see how truly wise and wonderful you are. I know when you’re giving me advice I should listen because not only will it be wise, but it is also going to be rooted in faith and comes from a place of love. It’s easy to think your Mom doesn’t know anything when you are young, but now I see the wealth of wisdom and knowledge that you are and I’m incredibly grateful that I am able to turn to you to receive it.
I see you spending your time as a BSF leader, as a hard worker at Dad’s office, as a missionary every year in Mexico or South America. You serve others without a second thought. You open your home to anyone and make it a place that I always want to come back to. You are thoughtful and loving towards others but also strong and honest when you need to be. I can’t believe you have been married almost 40 years! The commitment and selflessness that takes does not go unnoticed by me. You have SIX children and that can’t be easy haha. I know that I have given you a run for your money, but I hope at times I also make you proud.
I could write a VERY long blog about how amazing you are, but since my blog is about my ED recovery, I want to thank you most importantly for your unwavering support throughout the past two and a half years. They have been extremely difficult years for me and you have been there the entire time. You have helped me get back up when I have fallen down. You have guided me with your wisdom when I felt lost and you have helped me to renew my hope when I have felt hopeless. You have celebrated with me in moments of growth and prayed for me in moments of weakness. Best of all, I know I can come home at any time and have a place of peaceful rest, some amazing food from the garden and a glass of wine with my Mom.
I’m grateful for you. I thank God for you.
Love you Mom!
- Sara -