For my mother.

Dear Bee,

I loathe when you come around on Mother’s Day, but right now, I’m ignoring you, because that woman has given me more than you ever have and ever will. As a gift to her, I refuse to give into you. As much as I want to. My mom hurts when I hurt, and by engaging or even listening to you, I am choosing to hurt myself. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand how much my eating disorder has hurt my mother, but  I can’t imagine the pain I would feel watching my child suffer from such a complex and mental disease. She tries to help; she is willing to go at any length, and I am so grateful for that. I just have to get over the fear that letting her in more will hurt her more. Because it will hurt. No mother wants their child to suffer. But I know if my daughter was in pain, I would want to know. I would want to help her in the best way I could. 

Two weeks ago, I cried about my mother in therapy. The first time I ever cried in session. I was talking about her telling me she was willing to do anything to help me on this recovery journey. And I was telling my therapist how guilty I felt for her selflessness. How much I felt like I was constantly letting her down, even if she did not realize it, because I am still hurting myself, because I am still in the clutches of my eating disorder. 

As cliched as this sounds, my mom is my role model. She has always been my rock and anchor, my support system and my confidante. I feel safe around her. I feel loved and nourished. She is so good to me. Selfless and kind. Grateful and compassionate. I am not the only one who thinks highly of her. People love my mother. My friends come over and sit and talk to her for hours. Her coworkers rave about her. She is just one of those women who exhibits such an intricate balance of strength with selflessness.

I could ramble on about the life lessons I have learned from her, but I think one of the most important ones that has always resonated with me is: I’ll give you what you need. And needs are different from wants. Growing up, it was hard to distinguish the two, as I obviously wanted everything.

My parents did not spoil me. They were budget-conscious, even though they made decent money. I was aware of how much things cost and how to manage finances from a young age. My mother taught me to be humble and grounded: we never flashed money. We never salivated over materialistic or designer goods. We traveled to foreign countries but drove beat-up used cars. We went on family outings but wore jeans from the clearance rack. 

I am still this way. I prioritize my needs and limit my wants. People tell me this about recovery: sometimes, you gotta do what you need to do, even if it’s what you don’t want to do. You will get what you need, even if it’s not what you want. 

What do I need to do right now? I need to enjoy my family. And enjoy all the blessings I have in my life, because there are so, so many. I need to tune you out, because you are trying to tell me that I’m not worth all these wonderful fortunes. And you are trying to hold my hand and lead me into your dark abyss of anguish and turmoil. That path only goes one way: into the one that inevitably leads to guilt, self-loathing, disappointment, helplessness, hopelessness, utter fear, and pain. Why would I want to go there? 

No. I’m going back to my mom. Back to the person who spent nine months holding me and several more years loving, teaching, and guiding me. She didn’t go to all those lengths only for me to hurt myself the way I want to right now.