My phone rang and I hurried to answer, feeling a twinge of excitement for the first time in days. It was one of the therapists I had called. I had dialed several numbers today and sent several emails and poured over my phone for hours searching for someone who could help me. And still had nothing to show for engaging in this uncomfortable process.
I answered, relieved to hear her voice on the other end. She wanted to ask me about what, specifically I was seeking help for. I had been speaking loudly and clearly seconds ago, but instinctively and suddenly my voice be came barely audible. I mumbled that my fourteen year old was in the next room, and I went downstairs where he wouldn’t hear me.
Now this is my son who was five when I entered a residential treatment center and sobered up. He has sat with me through AA meetings and functions galore. He knows my history, knows that I went to jail. He knows my drinking is why he doesn’t live with me. He knows everything. I have never hid any of this from him. But now I was deliberately moving out of hearing range to admit over the phone that I have an eating disorder. I would like to say that I was surprised by this, but I’m not. I have always been more ashamed of my eating disorder than my alcoholism. It is in the same way that I am never just a bulimic, I am quick to let the professionals know that I am also prone to restricting and compulsive exercising.
It seems there is nothing that illicit more shame from me than the admission that I binge and purge. And I know why. It means I’m weak. I can’t just starve myself. I take the easy way out. These are the lies that I have been telling myself and believing for so long that I have rarely, if ever, been completely honest with anyone regarding my eating disorder.
I finished the phone call feeling at once both lighter and also burdened. It is a heavy toll taken from lying for so long, even if only by omission and minimization. My husband knew only that I had been to treatment for an eating disorder in my twenties. I never told him about my ongoing struggles. But, I had an appointment, and I told the therapist on the other end of the line that I was ready to recover.
So when my husband came through the door today, I asked him to watch the boys for an hour so I could see a therapist next week. He agreed without a lot of fanfare. And this evening, after the kids were in bed, I laid bare my dirty secret. And he never stopped loving, not for one second.
Challenge for the day:
Come clean about something you’ve been hiding. Today, I was more honest than I’ve been in decades, and I feel an easing of tension.