I honestly cannot remember if it was the day after Mother's Day for sure, but I think it was. My grandparents had come up to Seattle from San Diego and a bunch of our relatives had all come over the day before. The last of the relatives had left that morning. I don't remember where I had gone, but when I opened the front door I heard her. I walked up the stairs of our split level home and then saw her. She was alone in the house and she was in a chair in the living room. I had never seen her cry like that before.
I had recently been released from a two month stay in the eating disorder unit of a hospital. I had struggled with bulimia since I was 15 but no one knew until that year. I was 21 years old and engaged to my husband. This was the reason I dropped out of college.
It was the first time I had been around my extended family since I'd been outed. I felt like a freak on display. Every time I went into the bathroom it was seconds before someone was knocking on the door. Every bite I took or didn't take was watched. I put on a happy face and did my best to appear as normal as possible, which included eating more than I was comfortable eating. I panicked. I took garbage bags into my room and purged into my trash can and then wrapped the bag in many more bags and then hid it in the back of my closet. And my mother found it that morning. The morning I walked in on her crying.
Two months I'd been in the hospital. Two months my parents spent going to therapy with me. Two months my yet to be husband spent driving two hours from his college every Thursday to attend therapy with me and my family only to turn around and drive 2 hours back to make his Friday classes.
I stood there and was so very ashamed. She looked right into my eyes, her beautiful blue eyes so swollen and red, and she asked me if that was how I was going to die. I couldn't answer her. I did not know.
I would like to say that that moment pulled me up and turned me around. It didn't. I continued on and was actually worse than before I went into treatment. I quit going to therapy. My father-in-law to be gave me a job and my yet to be husband finished college. Days before his parents threw him a big graduation bash he rushed me to a clinic because I was very sick and terribly weak. I had not eaten in days and had taken over 50 laxatives. My heart went into arrhythmia and they ran 6 IVs of fluid at one time. The doctor wanted to admit me but we were not at a hospital and I refused. He called my parents and talked to them, telling them I needed to be back in treatment.
A couple of days after my yet to be husband's big party he went to Ohio to see his grandparents for a couple of weeks. I sometimes went for long walks with my mother-in-law to be after work and we talked. I had not been feeling well but that was normal for me. However, on this particular walk she talked about when she was pregnant. Something she said made me stop at the store on the way home and buy a pregnancy test. My body had not functioned normally in years and I did not think it was even possible for me to have children. I bought a box that contained two tests and took one right when I got home to practice for taking the other one in the morning. Only it was positive. I spent a sleepless night drinking water and waiting until 5 am to take the test again. It was positive again. Neither time I took the test did I even have to wait until the time was up. The blue line appeared immediately.
I went to work early and looked up what doctors were on my insurance plan. I called at 9:00 am on the dot. I was in a panic because I was afraid that I damaged my baby. They got me in right away. An ultrasound determined that I was already 10 weeks pregnant. Pregnant.
My husband and I had gotten engaged on Christmas Eve. We had three different wedding dates and I had three different dresses by the time we actually got married in November. I was 6 months pregnant. During that time my parents' 23 year marriage ended. (editing here to say my Dad sent me an e-mail saying it was 24 yrs., 9 months, and 3 days... but I think that was from the signing of the marriage license to the signing of the divorce papers).
Our daughter was born on February 14, 1989, and was 22 inches long and 10 lbs. 2 oz. Valentine's Day. And she saved my life. No one... not my parents, not my grandparents, not my husband.... no one could get me to stop my self destruction... but her. She was a miracle. She got me to take my eyes off of myself and to put her... her life... first. I grew up because I became a Mom.
I often think about that day, twenty years ago, when I walked in on my Mom. To this day it makes me cry to know that I hurt her that way. I am sorry that I can't say that her love was enough for me that day to make me stop. It had nothing to do with her. It was about me and my illness. But, God had a plan for my Mom's life, for my life and for my daughter's life. Just as He has a plan for your life.
As children we do not understand. It is so hard to see beyond ourselves. For me, it was only once I became a mother that I was finally able to begin to understand my Mom. It has been a process that has taken time. It is hard to imagine when you are holding your baby that that child will ever bring you anything but joy. It makes me wonder if, as a child of God, I've yet to fully realize the love our Father in heaven has for each of us.
Today my Mom is not only my Mom. She is my sister in Christ. She is my friend. As my daughter now breaks my heart, I know that this too shall pass. I have to step back and allow her to find her own way. The circumstances and details are different but I know it isn't about me.
Being a mom is so hard sometimes. For so long you can move through times where it seems like no one is thankful for what you do. The burden of trying to do everything right and sometimes failing can be crushing. The desire to protect your children can be seen as control. Sometimes you just need someone to come along and know that you are hurting and truly understand.
I love you Mom
Thank you for all you've done
And for all you continue to do
Happy Mother's Day!