Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Fork or spoon?

Tomorrow (here in the States) is Independence Day. "The Fourth of July."

The (disputed) day when the Declaration of Independence was signed (if not sealed and delivered,) declaring the citizens of the colonies of America to be free from (what they viewed as) the tyranny of England's rule.

In the summer of 2005, after reading Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer, I wrote a declaration of independence of my own. From my eating disorder. I even had the people in my life sign it in solidarity (as Thom Rutledge recommended in one of the exercise sections.)

For a while, I looked to that document for inspiration in my fight against this illness. I struggled to separate myself from the ED while simultaneously digging at the roots of my almost-non-existent self-esteem. I reached out for help, countless times.

And all through my inner battles, I made time to help others - mainly through message boards (like Something-fishy.) And all the time, there was a soul trapped that I couldn't reach. Anorexia had destroyed her body, but worse, it decimated her will to live.

My husband's cousin, Krissy would have been 28 years old today.

I remember the Christmas before she passed. I told her about my eating disorder; I gave her my phone numbers and email so that she could contact me if she wanted someone who would understand.

She never called.
Never emailed.

I had often thought about calling her, but never overcame my insecurities. (I hate talking on the phone.)

When she died, I had fleeting moments of regret, of guilt. I should have called. Why didn't I see beyond my own suffering?

I wasn't alone in my thoughts. In the aftermath of her passing, my husband and the rest of the family, and I'm sure, her friends as well, all wondered what they could have done to stop her from taking her own life.

I gently responded that there wasn't anything anyone could have done - she needed to want help. And when in the depths of an ED, there seems no way out. So dark is the depression, so suffocating is the despair. I understood. I had been there.

I understood, but didn't help her. I couldn't help her. I just wasn't in a place to help anyone then, not until I recovered myself.

A few weeks after her funeral, I asked my mother-in-law to take me to her grave. I stood near it and talked to her, like I was never able to in life. I thanked her for saving my life the year before (I had just begun to realize I was relapsing when her liver gave out. After seeing how devastated and scared my husband and his family was, I spurred into action to fight my own ED before I ruined my health forever.) I cried for her. I cried for me. I remember feeling envious of her - from my mid-recovery view, she had the liberty to choose death rather than continue the struggle. At the time, I was too blind to see that I did have a choice, lots of choices.

Now that I'm on the solid ground of "recovered," I see that she probably envied me. She probably thought how lucky I was to have choices, to have a child who needed me, to have a husband so in love with me (and I with him) that I never would consider death an option.

Amazing in its irony, isn't it?

We all have so many choices every day - so many forks (and spoons and bowls and plates) in our paths. The best thing is there is no Miss Manners to tell us which one we need to use. We are the masters/mistresses of our lives.

So, what choices await you today?

Which utensil will you choose?

How will you choose to live your life?

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