Try and thwart said crash, obviously, and in doing so save a life or two. Easy to say, hard to accomplish. Harder still when the life belongs to someone you love, and they don’t know, or can’t accept, that they’re in a vehicle whose brakes have gone out.
A certain writer I know loves his metaphors. This title was my own. I’m not talking about an actual car crash here. I’m talking about the hell that is anorexia.
Someone else I know (my sister) is dealing with something along those lines. I will not use her name here, because I don’t feel right doing that (this particular post is the toughest and most delicate to write, yet one I’ve known I had to write, if I could get permission to do so; she gave me permission, so I’ll do my best). If you’re any good at deduction, you’ll know the name of the beautiful, fun, kind hearted, caring person I’m talking about. You probably already do. If you ask me who I’m talking about, though, I won’t tell you. If she wants to reveal herself or comment via social media, that is entirely up to her. This is her story. I’m going to offer you, raw and largely unedited, my perspective on it.
When she was little, my sister looked up to me. I was older and knew lots of stuff. Her favorite phrase, when my brother and I would come over to see her, was: “Da brudahs aw heah!” and she’d come running out the front door into our arms. I carried her around the house, and when we went down stairs, she’d grab onto my shoulders from the front, a method we devised, so I could use the railing, and she’d hold on tight until I told her it was okay to let go. She loved spending time with me. We watched movies. We got lost in books together. We danced to Doo-Wa-Ditty, her favorite song as a kid. We found out that Grease was, and remains, the word. My brother and I showed her the magic of Jim Henson so that, unlike most in her generation, she grew up with an appreciation of the muppets.
One of the things I did too much of as a kid: Falling. If she was with me when a fall occurred, she had two fall-back (interesting choice of words, I know) questions she’d always ask. “Are you okay? Should I get Mommy?” I always told her no, I was fine, but I was always so touched by how much she cared.
As we’ve gotten older, and age and time and my own limitations have changed our relationship, allowing it to evolve, we have only grown closer. I am grateful for that closeness every day. That no matter how hard my life gets, there’s always someone out there hoping for the best for me.
I do the same for her. Always. And I began hoping harder once I noticed what I call “the change”.
It was a gradual shift. It didn’t happen all at once. I would have noticed that. Or at least I’d like to think so.
I don’t have the greatest eyesight, so the weight loss my sister underwent was not immediately obvious to me. But her changing habits with food were. She started eating salads. Then “eating a salad” became not eating anything, really, just pushing it around the plate so it might look eaten. At least, that’s how I saw it.
Only when I could see her ribs did I say something to the effect of: “Are you okay?” This was met with a look of disdain and angry assurances. The last thing I ever wanted to receive from my sister was bitterness, yet I felt it then. My inquiry was entirely out of the deepest and truest care.
Later still came: “If I eat that, it will hurt my stomach.”
This was something I accepted, even though I didn’t fully believe it or understand it. It was becoming clear to me that she was in trouble, and I wanted, with everything I had, to fix it for her. She was, after all, the little girl I’d sworn to the Heavens I would protect. I would teach her everything I knew (and she’d learn so much more). I would make memories with her (like Build-A-Bear Workshop, baseball games, that time we went to Borat when she was thirteen, and I was the coolest brother ever). If anyone tried to hurt her, I’d get in their way. I know she would do the same for me.
So here, I offer something more than hope. Something more than the modicum of protection that hasn’t worked to this point. I offer my quick, down-and-dirty letter to Anorexia.
I’m so damn sick of you I can’t see straight (I’m legally blind, so that’s not surprising, but that’s neither here nor there). You have spent a good part of the past hurting someone I love more than life itself. That ends NOW. I want you to tell her it’s okay to eat. I want you to give her back her love of food, a love I helped cultivate.
I want you to remind her I don’t care what she looks like; I’d love her whether she were a waif or a whale. The only thing I want to make sure she looks is happy.
I can’t do this alone, so I need your help, Anorexia. It’s so strange asking for help from your sworn enemy, but that I am willing to do today, at this moment, to save my sister’s life.
If you need collateral, fine. I’ll give you ten years of my life to assure she has ten happy years herself.
I don’t know what else to say. I’m a writer, it’s what I do, and I don’t know what else to say. Just please let her go. Stop holding her hostage. Let her be who she wants to be. Let her be the little girl I fell in love with years ago. Let her be the woman I respect and love beyond words who will change the world with her positive attitude and her willingness to talk to anyone.
Let her love herself. Let her see in the mirror the person we all see.
And, for God’s sake, let her eat.