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Below is a story written by one of our teens in Eating Disorder Recovery. This vulnerable and brave story shares an aspect of recovery often not talked about. We thank her for shedding light on some of the familial repercussions of disordered eating and the ripple effect they have on our relationships and family legacy.


September 14, 2020. 7:33am. I woke up, my mind buzzing as it had the past few months with numbers, calories, times I was going to exercise, when I was going to hide my food… the only important things in life.

I pulled myself out of bed, a constant storm cloud above my head, water droplets beginning to fall and trickle down my face; tears of distress. I was being held captive by my mind, my mouth gagged and my hands tied. As I approached the stairs, my hands grasped the stair rail for dear life, doing my best to straighten up despite my blurry and dizzy vision.

I dragged one foot in front of the other, almost toppling over my clumsy, heavy feet; so heavy they felt like sandbags protecting me from the tide of depression that surely awaited me when my mother questioned me for the hundredth time. “Why aren’t you eating breakfast?” she’d ask. To which I would reply, “I’ll eat after my workout” or “I’m not hungry this early in the morning”.

The truth was, I was starving and my stomach didn’t even have the energy to grumble anymore, just a dull, pulsing, silent pain that never seemed to go away. But when I walked into the kitchen, my eyes squinting and blinking rapidly as my pupils adjusted to the light, I found my mother not in her typical dishwasher-emptying, breakfast-prepping, grocery-

list-making routine. Instead she was braced against the kitchen table, as I had been against the stairwell moments earlier. “Hey, Mom, are you okay?” I asked, not actually caring because the wellbeing of anyone but my anorexia was irrelevant in my sick mind.

She jumped, facing me, terrified. “Sorry. Just lost in my thoughts.” She turned away and attempted to begin her typical dishwasher emptying routine I knew all too well. Yeah you’re lost in your thoughts, I thought ironically to myself as I walked to the sofa and allowed myself to sit for fifteen minutes; not one more. This was the longest amount of time in the day I was allowed to sit and “be lazy”, as my eating disorder would scream at me; the rest of the time I would be running with tears in my eyes, sweating non stop during my hours long workouts, stuffing food in my pockets to throw away or flush later. “Mae,” my mom said shakily. “I have something to tell you”. I rolled my eyes, angry that she had interrupted my dissociation.

“Yeah?” I asked, turning around 180° to see her eyes welling with tears. “Um… Nana is having heart surgery today and I want you and Annie to call her before she goes in”. Her voice was cracking at every other consonant and despite her wiping away her tears they would spring right back, like those water fountains you see at a city park. Oh God, I thought. Here she goes again. “Okay” I replied heartlessly, turning back to my phone. 11 minutes left before my workout. Damn, I thought, I really don’t wanna work out right now. I’m gonna have to do a 90 minute workout, and then go for a run, have some coffee to tide over my appetite.

“Maegan, you ready to call Nana?” My twin approached me, her hair falling perfectly into place, her feet routinely taking first position as if she was in her daily ballet class. I rolled my eyes and pushed myself to my feet, seeing double, but I took some deep breaths and waited for it to pass. “Fine,” I replied.

We walked into the basement and used my sister’s phone to dial my Nana’s phone number. We’d never really dialed her before, unless it was to ask her if she was on her way to pick us up from school because she would sometimes forget, or to call her when she was inevitably in the hospital again because she refused to rest like she was supposed to.

We stood together on the rough and stained cream-colored carpet, our toes curling in and out together just like our heartbeats had when we were born, on the same carpet where we learned to walk, play, and dance together. Before all the shit happened and we became so distant and divided, I might as well have been in China. In fact, I thought, this was the closest we’d physically been for the past two years despite having been stuck in the same house.

But I pushed this thought aside. It wasn’t important. 8 minutes left until my workout. Just pick up, I thought angrily. You’re literally laying in bed. What could be taking so long?

Finally she picked up. “Hi girls!” Her cheerful but sickly voice greeted us like a beautiful bird flying in the sunlight before it flies into a window. “Hi Nana!” my twin replied, taking the lead because she knew I was too lost in my own thoughts to lead the conversation. She knew about my eating disorder. She knew it too well. But it was a subject I forbade her from talking about. “We just wanted to - 7 minutes- tell you how much we - which workout am I gonna do? - love you and we’re - I shouldn’t have had that piece of gum this morning, that’s 5 extra calories- praying for you!” “Oh, thank you so - Mom’s getting suspicious - much, I love you - hurry up, Jesus - girls beyond words. How are - No one cares! Just hang up on her - you girls?” “We’re good Nana, but how - 5 minutes - are you doing?” “Well, - Annie, stop asking questions. God, I have to go - I’m hanging in there. I love - Yeah, yeah, we know, you love us - you girls so much and I - You’d probably love me more if I was thinner and wasn’t so huge - promise I’ll be okay.” “Okay, Nana - Yes, let’s go, wrap it up - we love you so much - How am I gonna hide my breakf-” Annie nudged me in the ribs, her eyes darting from me to the phone, signaling I better say something.

God will everyone stop being so dramatic? She literally has surgery every other Monday. “We love you Nana!” I chimed in heartlessly. “I love you - 3 minutes - girls. I’ll see you soon.”

September 15, 2020. 6:32am. I dragged myself out of bed, dizzy and shaking, falling over my feet as I trudged down the stairs. I peered around the corner to the kitchen, searching for my mom but all I saw was my Dad holding out his open arms. “Mae,” he began, his tears choking his voice. “Nana died last night”.

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