Hello. To start, I would like to describe my family. I have two married parents with steady jobs and a younger sister. An outsider would look at my life and label it “perfect.” However, from inside the closed doors, we are far from that. My parents are “happily married” as some would say. Sure, they fight. Who doesn’t? My father is a surgeon so I cannot complain that we lack any financial support. My mother works as well, and that is the problem. She is a psychologist with her own private practice. In some ways, this is helpful. She knows how to handle a crisis, she knows how to raise her children in a non-abusive, safe and healthy manner. Alternatively, her therapist-ways can be destructive. At an age of 9, my little sister started figuring out the things that I had already discovered. She would get annoyed and say, “Mommy stop thinking AT me.” Because my mother has an overly-analytical stare that she uses much too often. But I guess she can’t help it, it’s who she is.
My father is secretly obsessed with success, though he tries to hide it. He sneaks in little phrases about “Yale” and “Med. School” before my mom gets mad at him and tells me I can attend whatever college I want. He is proud of his “little girls.” They both are. So how can I let them down? How I can I tear apart all that they have created?
I have been a “closeted bulimic” for… nearly two years now? It wasn’t extreme at first. It was occasional; when I was angry with myself or with the world. When things were out of hand and out of control. Now its every week. Three times a week. At least. I have a crammed life of getting A’s in school, singing opera and chorus, playing instruments, maintaining a social life, and more. When I write it down, it seems pathetic. I have “the picture perfect life.” Where did it go wrong? Something inside of me is missing; some genetic coding disfunction. That’s what I am: dysfunctional. And what keeps me up at night is that I have nothing to point my finger at. No abuse, death, or abandonment in my life. Nothing. I just want a diagnosis; I want someone to tell me what is wrong and WHY it’s wrong. Maybe then I won’t feel so guilty for being…. broken.
My relationship with my father is a typical father-daughter connection. I strive for perfection to make him proud. He always is. I fear letting him down; I fear failing him. I fear failure in general. As a younger child, my father wasn’t around often. Always traveling and operating and working hard so that I could grow up with every opportunity imaginable. I am his princess and he is my king. I don’t have the heart to throw that away with this secret.
My relationship with my mother is strange. I guess my mom would be considered a “cool mom” by any other teen. But to me, she is difficult. We used to be very close. But throughout middle school, that began to fade. I don’t tell her much anymore, and I don’t really want to. I tell her everything above the water, but never anything too deep. I think as I grew older, I grew tired of her analyzing my stories and deciphering my life. But now as things are getting harder and harder to handle on my own, I want to tell her everything. I want to spill my guts out about the past few years; I want to cry into her shoulder rather than into my own pillow at night. I’m done trying to play the strong one, because on the inside I’m falling apart.
I’ve come close to telling her at times. But I always back out in the end. I’m too afraid of what would become of my life and my family. I’m too afraid of what would happen, of the change. I’ve always hated change and transition, ever since I was a baby. I like clean-cut corners and plans. I need control in my life and I try to convince myself that’s where all of this is coming from. But it’s not real enough. It’s not real enough to blame.
Now, I’m deteriorating. I need help. I need a nutritionist, a therapist. Something. I don’t know how to tell my parents, but I know I need to. A friend of mine has offered to do it for me, but I told her that this is my battle and I have to fight it. You think that with my mom being a therapist, she would have noticed. She would have put together the long bathroom trips after meals, whether it be at home or at restaurants. You think she would have grown suspicious when all of the sudden I was developing cavities or living at the gym or skipping meals. You think she would have seen through the facade by now.
Today, my mom says we have to leave by 2:30 because she has a patient at 3:00. I ask her why she doesn’t just try and re-schedule. She tells me it’s too last-minute and this patient is new. She goes, “No I can’t re-schedule. This is an eating disorder patient so she’ll probably freak out and go over the edge if I re-schedule last minute. People like that need control. Don’t ever get an eating disorder, god, they just never go away.” And dismissively she closes the car door and walks over to the garage. I take my time getting out of the car, blinking back tears and trying to act interested in what she had been saying. I felt so empty inside. Like a gear in my chest was missing and it would be the greatest disappointment if they found out.
Furthermore, I know my mom works with people just like me. If she knew about me, she would be getting an insider’s look into my head through other patients. Maybe she would understand too much, every move I made would be analyzed and diagnosed. And after a long day of work, she’d have to come home to another patient? Me? How could I do that to her?
And what about my sister? At times, she is the only thing still holding my feet to the ground. If my life was “perfect” and I turned out like this, what would happen to her if she grew up with a household anything below par?
Overall, I’m scared. I don’t want to ruin my family. I don’t know how to tell my mom that I’m just as fucked up as those kids with alcoholic fathers and mothers that have disappeared. I don’t know how to tell my father that all his work has gone to shit and I’m really not the daughter he deserves. I don’t know how I can destroy the role-model pedestal that my sister keeps me on.
I don’t know how to tell them.