By Michaela: "I'm a carer of a loved one with an eating disorder, only it wasn't until much recently that I even realised that to be my role. I wasn't exactly sure how to approach the subject, so I decided to write a letter."
Compassionate, caring, proud, sensitive, friendly, outgoing. Those are just a few of the words I would use to describe you.
You have been my best friend since I can remember. We told each other everything, or so I thought. Your relationship with food became uncomfortable and distant. A topic that was never open for discussion. I slowly began to notice you weren’t properly taking care of yourself. The physical changes were becoming more obvious, and I couldn’t help but notice and worry. Really worry.
When we would have phone chats you would avoid questions about your well-being, a quick dismissive ‘I’m fine’ became the extent of what I got. But I knew better. I knew in the tone of your voice, the deep exhalations. You weren’t fine.
Whenever I had moments of self-doubt you would look at me, smile and say:
“You’re so hard on yourself. I wish you could see yourself the way all those who love you, see you.”
I began to realise this sweet piece of advice was something you were telling me but failing to do for yourself.
The way you would talk about yourself and your body would make me so sad to hear.
Sometimes your mood would be dependent upon what number the scale read, or you would be consumed with which clothes used to fit but no longer did. I wish you didn’t care about the number on the scale or the size of your pants. I wish you could realise that those things don’t define you.
Your kind heart.
Your need to help others.
Your effort to try to make everyone happy.
Your loyalty to friends.
Your love of your family.
Your commitment to your work.
Your ability to light up a room.
THOSE are the things that define you. Your weight will fluctuate. Who you are, what you embody, your values – those things will not.
I’ve lost track of how many of my ‘I’m worried about you’ would get dismissed; how many times you’ve changed the subject when I tried to voice my concerns. I’m sorry for being harsh with my words, when I would feel so frustrated. I’m sorry for the times I would lose my patience and make snide remarks to you. I’m sorry for all the times I was short-tempered. I wanted you to explain to me why you seemed to hate food. I didn’t understand it. It would make me so angry. I so badly wanted it all to be over, that I never really stopped to consider that maybe you did too.
This is my letter to you. To tell you - it’s okay to ask for support. You’re not alone. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Getting support doesn’t take away from your role as a mum, mums need care too.
I love you.