A couple months ago my life and my summer plans took an interesting turn.
We had big plans for camping trips, fishing trips, horseback riding, etc. We weren't going anywhere extravagent - I just bought a new car. BJ just bought a new truck. We were planning on doing a lot of grand adventures, just close to home adventures.
Then BJ's dad had to have open heart surgery. (A quintuple bypass!) BJ's dad has been the full-time caregiver to BJ's mom. She can't walk and can't do anything for herself. BJD (BJ's Dad) was beside himself with worry about what would happen to BJM (BJ's Mom). The three kids in the area decided we would take shifts and stay with the parents to make sure they were taken care of.
Because BJ and I have to get work done during the week, our shift is the weekend. Basically, for two months, I have either been working or at BJ's parents. We took the horses out a couple of times, but they've had to be fast evening rides. We went fishing for an hour. We had his grandkids come to the house to play for a couple hours, and then had to go back to work after they left at 8pm.
It's been hard to have life plans changed, and not be able to go on our riding, camping and fishing trips. (And to know that we are going to have to cancel all of our plans for the rest of the summer too.) It sucks a bit, but also... not a big deal. I'd like to write about how this has triggered old thoughts and patterns in me.
BJ's mom is diabetic and very obese. Her dietary needs are very restrictive: Low calorie, low carb, and we have to count and keep track of everything she eats.
My dietary needs are very different. Higher calorie, high protein, and a really bad idea for me to keep track of everything I eat.
How do you match both of those at the same time? I can't keep track of what she eats without also keeping track of what I eat. If I eat when she is not eating, it's hard on her. (Probably in the same way it is hard for me to eat when she isn't eating. We are opposite ends of the same disorder. I feel bad for needing food. She feels unloved when she doesn't get food.)
I knew that would be hard for me. I compared it to an alcoholic having to poor drinks for everyone else in the room: totally doable, but difficult.
I also knew that without a compelling reason to do old behaviors, the triggers wouldn't be enough... I needed an eating disorder in the past, because my thoughts, my life, my existence were all incredibly painful. I needed an escape, and took the only way I knew "out" - at least until I didn't need it anymore and I found other ways to get my needs met.
I have to be here. I can't leave. My body is needed to lift and move and help. They also need me to appear emotionally and mentally strong. No matter what I am feeling - I need to get the work done. AND this is hard. I haven't wanted to be here. I've wanted an out - or some sort of emotional release.
Eating disorders are a way to get an emotional release. An out.
As I've talked to friends who have struggled with their own eating disorder, they have been compassionate and also said, "Remember you have to take care of yourself or you will be of no use to them."
That is when I realized, part of the trigger is that if I don't take care of myself, I don't have to take care of anyone else. I feel sad and selfish knowing that THAT is one of the reasons I feel triggered. I also understand it makes sense... I'm not so good at establishing boundaries for myself. I struggle to say what is too much, and I feel like I should give until I am dead. With that underlying belief, it makes sense to hurt myself so that I won't have to give as much.
One of the big pieces of eating disorder (and probably most addiction) recovery is recognizing the needs it fulfills, and then find a new way to have those needs met. I'm tired and I can't give as much as I have been asked to give (and be healthy).
BJ and I sat down and talked to his sister a few days ago. (Incidentally, she is the same place. She can't keep going like this without damaging her health.) BJ's dad has been doing this for years... no wonder his heart has finally said, "NO MORE!"
Sadly, there are not many resources for people who don't have money. I know what it's like to need more help, but have no resources to get that help. BJ's mom needs a lot of care.
Will she have to go to a rest home?
How will we pay for a rest home?
What happens now?
Do all of us sacrifice our health to help her? How long?