Psyche logo

How Did I Get Here

by Jacqueline Smith 3 years ago in family

Living with an Eating Disorder

How did I get here?

Yesterday I spent the day in bed, sleeping, coughing, sick. I still get up in the morning before my kids go to school and I make dinner each night. I don’t work outside the home, but feel worried about money and being in debt all the time. What is the problem? My husband left me when I was 48. I was a stay-at-home mom after owning my own business for two years. It was successful enough, but I became pregnant with baby #3 and considering my partner was more like a messy child, I decided to sell my business and stay at home to care for my children. Things were getting out of hand at home and out of hand at work. I realized for the first time in my life I could NOT do it all and my needs were not getting met in my marriage.

Where am I now? I have three girls, an 8-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old. I tried to go back to work and found it was work I should have been doing when I was 20, not 48. My oldest daughter has anorexia and I quit my job to care for her full time. I guess this is my job now. Doing Family Based Treatment requires supervised meals at a certain calorie count every two hours. We spent a full week in the hospital together, she being hooked up to a heart monitor when her weight was about 92 pounds. Her heart rate dipped to 20 beats per minute a few nights and I wasn’t sure she would live. She ate, had panic attacks, and eventually got discharged to the adolescent psych ward, where she had to live for another three or four weeks. She called me nightly in tears about various issues. The girls on her ward were not only there for ED (eating disorders), they were there for all types of needs requiring psychiatric attention and full time supervision. A lot of suicide attempts. There were also boys up there, which made it strange and not private. She had to be supervised even when going to the bathroom, sometimes by a man, and it was humiliating. They were okay to have their back to her and stand just outside the door. One girl had swallowed bleach. Another girl, around age 11, had to be force fed with a feeding tube almost daily. This blended in with tears about eating bad quality ice cream and ranch dressing, girls asking if they could visit her room at night for intimacy and watching ED patients hide their food in their pockets.

She is home now and I am proud to say she has gained about 35 pounds. She is still in recovery, but getting better each day. I am on it. But I feel myself shrinking inside as I feel my own self worth getting smaller and smaller, as I question all decisions I have made to get here. I can’t blame my husband for my own choice to stay with him and put up with his shit. That was my decision to stay with the chaos I had already learned from my life as a child. Maybe that wasn’t actually a decision, but a subconcious draw to pain? Eckhart Tolle calls it the pain body. How do I get out of the pain body?

So this is my story, 51, not able to work outside of the home, feeling in debt and in doubt. Feeling overwhelmed by three children at home, meeting their needs and beating myself up about not being able to meet my own needs. I feel that no one understands what I am going through and I am tired of burdening others with my situation. Why can’t I get on top of things and figure it out? I just want to go back to sleep. I don’t want to be 20 again. All the mistakes I’ve made and risks I have taken and failed to take have gotten me to this point. Forgive myself? Stay present? Be grateful? I want those things badly. I want to see how much I have done, not what I haven’t done. But right now I just feel like a failure and I hate myself for whining right now and feeling sorry for myself. My kids are doing okay. Perhaps that is my accomplishment for now.

Jacqueline Smith
Jacqueline Smith
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Jacqueline Smith

See all posts by Jacqueline Smith

Find us on socal media

Miscellaneous links