Tough Love

**Written February 11th, 2017**
Tough love, man. When I was quasi-recovering, relapsing, suffering; my mom loved me TOUGH. And at the time, it made me want to punch holes in the wall, scream until my veins popped out in my neck, until I was blue in the face. She refused to pity me. I pitied myself. I felt so bad for myself, that I was suffering. I remember constantly complaining about how the world wasn’t fair, how I didn’t deserve this disease, how I was going through such a terrible time.
It’s funny, actually.
I desperately wanted the attention of everyone around me, and at the same time I wanted to disappear into thin air. I wanted to go through the days unnoticed, terribly embarrassed by my emancipated appearance and straw-like hair, my “sick eyes”, my pale glass skin and bones where body fat should have been. I hated myself and what I had become. Yet I wanted everyone around me to pity me, to look at me and shed a tear, hug me and tell me it’s okay, I’m validated. What a god damn paradox.
My mom refused to pity me. I would lock myself in the bathroom at school during class, silently, violently, shake and cry and just shower myself under the dark rain cloud that was my depression. During these episodes (which occurred daily my sophomore year of high school), I would text my mom novels. I would tell her how sad I was, how I’m really trying this time BUT… How I was scared for the future, how I didn’t want to wake up in the morning, how I physically felt as if I was unable to sit through a school day without wanting to jump out of a window.
I would hold my breath as I watched her type on the other end. She was loving, she cared, but she didn’t enable me. Ah, that’s the word. ENABLE. She acknowledged my frustration, my sadness. What she didn’t do was VALIDATE it. She was stern and outright honest.
She’d start her responses with my name.
“Angie…” the message would read.
Think about that for a second. When someone addresses you in the middle of a conversation, your heart stops. Things just got serious.
And she would do this all.the.damn.time.
Talk about the power of words.
She would go on to say that it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to feel and she was glad that I was expressing myself. However, there was one tag line she constantly reiterated over and over again and I’ll never forget it. “You have to help yourself”.
Basically, those five words are what I’m here to rant about. My Instagram has allowed me to grab a glimpse into the struggles of so many beautiful people. So many souls who are hurting, who are huddled together under that dark cloud that haunted me in the bathroom stall. So many people in quasi-recovery, relapsing, battling demons. I have crossed paths with plenty of people out there who are crying the blues about their disorder, but are doing NOTHING TO HELP THEMSELVES.
I’m sick of it. I’m so DAMN SICK OF IT.
Frankly, you know what you have to do to get better. You KNOW you should be doubling your intake, HELL TRIPLING IT. You KNOW you have weight to put on and that you SHOULD NOT BE WORKING OUT.You know that you have to eat your night snack, regardless if you live alone and nobody is there to pat you on the shoulder and stroke your hair and give you a high-five.
When you’re in the grips of an eating disorder, you constantly look for validation. Your downward spiral was dependent on this acceptance from others. You kept losing weight, working out harder and eating next-to-nothing. You began manipulating your diet to include seven items. And you kept going, further, further, because you were under the impression that others saw you as “dedicated”, as “healthy”, as “strong”. This is validation. Your actions, while it be irrationally so, were being validated by what you assumed others to think.
To those relapsing, to those who claim to be in recovery but frankly aren’t doing shit, this is for you. I say it sternly and brutally honest but any other way will enable you to keep trucking on the same way you are. YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF. Nobody can do it for you. YOU KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. DO IT. Quit stalling. What are you waiting for? Why do you keep saying “tomorrow”? Why do you keep saying “If…”? I don’t understand. Why do you want to stay stuck? Don’t you want to be alive?
I realize there are so many of you out there struggling alone. I realize how insanely fortunate I was to have treatment options, professional help, and a loving and caring family to fall back on. If you don’t have these things, and even if you do, I’m here for you. I want to be your support system. I want you to climb up on my shoulders and then climb even higher, bounding towards life and happiness. I want to listen to you and be here for you and simply help you.
What I don’t want, however, is to enable you.
My mom loved me tough. She listened to me and hugged me and cradled me and reminded me that it’s okay not to be okay. But she never let me stay put. She constantly reminded me that I was sick because I, ME, was allowing myself to stay that way. That I was stronger than any damn voice playing with my brain. But there was only so much she could do. The rest was on me.
One day, I picked myself and realized I was done self-pitying. I was done coming up with excuses for why I shouldn’t do what I was supposed to do. I SHOULD be taking a rest day today, but I just feel SO good that maybe I’ll just skip it. I SHOULD be adding more to my intake, but I’m so tired so I’ll just go to sleep and try again tomorrow.
Coming from someone who’s been around the block, here’s what I have to say.
If you’re trying to restore weight, you CANNOT be working out AT ALL until you’re weight restored and then MAINTAINING A STABLE WEIGHT FOR AT LEAST A MONTH. You HAVE TO expand your intake, you HAVE TO stop trying to fill yourself up on empty foods such as huge bowls of vegetables.
If you’re trying to restore a healthy relationship with food, you HAVE TO break whatever rules you’ve cultivated. You have to throw caution to the wind and just DO IT.
The only way out is through.
How do you expect to get better if you’re doing shit about your situation? Do you expect to one day snap your fingers and things are easier? It doesn’t work like that. You put in the work, the dedication, and you’ll discover your reward. I don’t care that it’s scary, that you’re scared to death to make the changes you need to. The discomfort is temporary. Death isn’t.

I refuse to pity those who can help themselves. Your illness CAN be overcome, but YOU are the only one that can do it. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

I love you all, SO so dearly. I acknowledge your pain and I understand your struggle and I hear your cries. But i refuse to enable you.


Sending (tough) love!