Ed likes conflict. Ed likes to take sides. Ed likes it when you try to deal with him on a logical basis.
Problem is there is nothing logical about an eating disorder. It’s all about perception – Ed’s and yours.
During our daughter’s battle with Ed (her ) my husband and I were on opposite sides of the war. I was emotional, he was practical. I was in a state of panic. He tried to keep peace in the household by defending Ed’s behavior.
He was trying to deal logically with an illogical situation. Truthfully, neither of us knew what to do. My husband was trying to find some balance between my extreme emotions and Ed’s abusive nature. Ed was driving a wedge between us. At the time, we did not understand how important it was for us to present a united front.
The conflicts at home continued to escalate as did my resentment towards my husband and daughter. I was powerless to fight this disease. I was powerless to save my daughter. I felt like I was receiving no support from my husband.
His perception, although, was much different than mine. By running interference between Ed and me, my husband thought he was keeping Ed at a distance – protecting me from Ed’s abusive nature. He wasn’t protecting me.
By not being united, we were giving Ed a great deal of power. We were adrift in a sea of conflict, extreme emotions, anger and confusion.
One evening, while my husband and daughter were out, I packed a suitcase. I was going to leave. I had no idea where I was going to go, but I was at a point where I could not take one more day of living in such a toxic environment.
Our home had ceased to be a place of comfort and safety. We needed help. We could not do this on our own any longer. I realized running away was not the answer. My family was worth saving. I just didn’t know where to start.
Ed had brought me to a place of desperation. When you are desperate, your decision making process becomes flawed. I thought my only recourse was to escape. Ed would have supported that decision.
Thankfully, my suitcase and I never made it to the car.
What did begin to happen was a slow acceptance of what my husband and I needed to do. We needed to come together instead of being on opposite sides. We both needed to understand what the other was going through.
Our emotions were based on assumptions of what we perceived the other was feeling and thinking. We both needed a safe place to talk, to digest the turmoil that was our lives. We needed a game plan.
I found a therapist who understood the complexities of an eating disorder and could help us crack through the layers of hardened resentment. We learned to support each other against Ed.
We also learned more constructive ways of dealing with the conflict caused by Ed. We learned not to engage Ed when he baited us for yet another round of verbal attacks.
We needed to remain calm, but firm in the boundaries we had set. It got worse before it got better, but we stuck it out – together – on the same page, in the same court, on the same team.
Those weekly sessions with our therapist became my lifeline. My husband and I learned new ways to cope and, most importantly, how to respond to Ed’s behavior while still loving our daughter.
Blame took a backseat while we continued to put in place the tools given to us by our therapist. Ed no longer called the shots in our home. As we stopped engaging the erratic behavior brought on by Ed, he began to lose steam.
This was not an instant fix. It was a process that took some time.
When a loved one is diagnosed with an eating disorder, the family needs to seek help. You cannot fix this by yourselves.
Professional intervention is required. Trust the treatment process. Ask questions. Learn what do to at home.
Move past the shame and silence the blame. This is not your fault. Living in shame and pointing fingers in blame will not help your loved one to a point of recovery and it won’t help you, either.
Maya Angelou said: “You did then what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.”
Don’t ruminate over what you should have done. You cannot change the past. Move forward. Get help.
Get the support you need. Communicate. Don’t let yourself get to that desperate point of thinking that running away is your only option.