After asking the question that changed everything, Bea wants to talk about my childhood in general. I find it difficult to do. I don’t want to talk about it. Bea wants to know why.
“Because. It was just a normal childhood. There was nothing significant,” I say.
She asks about my mom, and the way I described my mom as anorexic and a control freak in my first “disclosure email” to her.
“Well, yes. My Mom is anorexic. What difference does that make? It doesn’t effect me now.”
I’m feeling argumentative today. I don’t want to have this conversation, I don’t want to discuss my mother. My feelings toward my mom are complicated. If I talk about the bad parts of her, that feels, like a betrayal. I just can’t do it. As with everything else in my life, I have compartmentalized my mother so that I only have to deal with the “good mom”
Bea finally gives up. She seems to realize I’m not really ready for this conversation. “What do you want to talk about today?” She asks me.
I stare at the floor for a while. Finally, I manage to to spit it out. “I’m worried about Kat and her eating. She refuses to eat breakfast, and then demands snacks. If I don’t give her snacks and make her wait for lunch she cries and sobs that I’m starving her, but come lunch time she won’t eat and says she isn’t hungry. I’m so afraid I’m teaching her bad habits, or teaching her body not to be hungry. I just don’t know. And I don’t want to talk about my eating issues, I just can’t yet. But I really don’t want them passed onto Kat, and I try too hard and I know I overthink things but I don’t want her to have a bad relationship with food and I try to tell her that meat has protein to give us energy and fruit has vitamins to keep us healthy and vegetables have vitamins, too and I never call foods bad or good, just what they have and why we need that, even sugar…..” Now that I have started talking, I can’t stop. My own struggles with disordered eating make setting healthy eating boundaries for a Kat extremely difficult. I don’t always have a good concept of what is normal and what isn’t.
Bea listens intently, and quietly. I can tell she is understanding, and not judging. Finally, she says, “You’re okay. You brought lunch a few times for Kat, and I did not see any weird attitudes toward food coming from you. If you hadn’t told me of your personal feelings about food, I would not have guessed.” Yup, that’s right. I’m so good at separating myself, at dissociating and blocking things out, I fooled the shrink.
Bea continues, “I would keep doing what you are doing, but I would make sure meal times are very structured. So, breakfast is from 8 to 8:20. Set a timer, and make sure Kat is aware that once the timer goes off, if she has not eaten she won’t have another meal until lunch.”
“You don’t think I’m screwing her up? I’m so, so scared she’s going to end up in therapy at my age because I messed up,” I say.
Bea laughs. “No. She’s here now. And you are here now. She’s going to be fine. You are going to be fine. In fact, I think you are both going to grow in very big ways this year.”