Sunday, May 11, 2008

Twenty Years Ago...

Twenty years ago I walked in on my mother crying. Actually, it was more than crying. It was the weeping of someone with no hope.

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!


Karen Deborah said...

Happy Mothers Day KJ. I'm glad you are a fat bottomed girl and alive!
Bulemia will kill you. Hopefully your sharing that will touch some one who is suffering with an eating disorder. We are all so hard on ourselves. It's the plague of the female race. I'm reading "Captivating" it's a good book that discusses women in a new way, you might enjoy it.

ecolo said...

Wow! I so admire you for sharing your story. I sincerely wish you a GREAT MOTHER'S DAY!

Laura ~Peach~ said...

Happy Mothers day to you! You are a great mom!

Chris H said...

Happy Mothers Day sweetie, hope you have a really neat day. Thanks for the story of your past... we all do put our mothers through some rough times!

Flea said...

Happy Mother's Day, and thank you for sharing your story! It gives even more hope for your relationship with your own daughter. And I'm so glad that your mom is now also your sister. :)

Alison said...

what an absolutely beautiful post...thank you so much for sharing it. I know I made my mom sob many a time in my younger days...all of that made me the person I am today....Your daughter will be fine also, just like you and I are fine now...time and patience, the best healers.

Junebug said...

First of all I want to wish you a Happy Mother's Day. And second to say that was very well written and moving. And to tell you the truth I made my mom cry when I was growing up too. My teen years got very rebellious I am sad to say. I could tell you some stories! But I am glad that the grace of God changed me and got me through it. Only by grace....

tj said...

...This was absolutely beautiful KICFOBC...just beautiful! Such hardships you have overcome and look at the wonderful person you have become! I know your mother must be very proud of you!

..."Happy Mother's Day" to you and many, many blessings too! :o)

goldengirls59 said...

Thanks so much for opening your heart on this Mother's Day. Maybe this will help someone else who needs to read it.

Carin said...

That was so well written. Thank you for sharing your story.

Mabunny said...

Wow, Kj, thank you so much for sharing such a difficult story from your past. I'm glad you and your mother are friends and sisters now. My mother is also my best friend. One can hope for the future of you and your daughter to become best freinds too.

I should be starting your blanket this week!


Julia said...

That. Was. Awesome.

Thank you.

AmusedMomma said...

Your amazing spirit uplifts others and gives them hope and peace because you share so much of your heart with them!

Happy Mother's Day, friend!


Deborah said...

Isn't it amazing that even though the details of our lives are so different, the experiences are so much the same! Thank you so much for this post; it's so full of hope and encouragement for mothers and daughters.

Brenda said...

What a scary time for your mom and you. She sounds like a real trooper and good for you for overcomng a it an illness or would you call it a problem? I guess I am not well educated on it.

Trisha said...

You are a very strong woman. To have conquered such a stong disorder and then to be dealing with another "strong" disorder. God must really believe you are a special person with amazing inner strength. I really admire you for both your strength and your honesty.

Thank you.

P.S. I am glad you got better and are still around to blog!

Becky said...

Wow! What a neat tribute to mom.

I am loving your blog.