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Dear Shrink I Don’t Have:

Dear Shrink That I Don’t Have:

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the interwebs lately. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I’ve been learning a lot about Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Anorexia. Mostly via YouTube videos. Do you know how many people suffer from those? Seemingly quite a few. But I don’t.

I mean, in seventh grade I began eating as little as possible to get by. I was already active, so I didn’t exercise as obsessively as some do. I kept this up until I moved in with my dad at 16. Even then it was only a little better.

My mom came to visit once and said I was filling out and looked nice. All I heard was ‘filling out.’

That was a setback.

I dated an asshole, the things he did to make me hate myself are too many for this letter. Another setback.

Then, slowly, I started being able to eat more than salad in front of others. I met my current boyfriend and my eating habit progressed further.

Except now I’m 135 lbs. Do you know what 135lbs is? It’s AVERAGE for a woman of 5’6”. For some reason my brain keeps changing ‘Average,’ in my head into ‘Fucking Fat Cow.’

People tell me I’m beautiful, but I can’t hear them, because I’m too busy seeing all the things I hate about myself. I’m 22, are 22 year old supposed to have cellulite there? I’m pretty sure that’s cellulite. Why is my skin shitty? Oh because I eat sugar. God, my face is too round, why is it so round? Remember when you used to have ABS there? You shouldn’t ever have a child… you’re going to balloon up and it’s going to be hideous. Plus, what child would want to be raised by someone like you? Why can’t you just STOP EATING ALREADY?

The thing is that I’m slip-slip sliding back to a place that I used to be. A place my boyfriend doesn’t even know exists. It’s a deep, dark, scary place.

But you see, dear shrink, I don’t have a problem. Because the doctor I went to for my many health problems between the ages of 12 and 16 told me I needed to make time to eat, but never saw that maybe my not eating was a deeper problem. (Seriously, woman… since when is a middle-schooler or even early high-schooler TOO BUSY TO EAT, ARE YOU DENSE?)

Both of the therapists I went to when I was 19, told me that I was of sound mind, despite the fact that my boyfriend talked me into going because he didn’t know how to deal with my depression. I didn’t have any problems…maybe I should try some breathing exercises. (Gee, thanks…because my much cheaper yoga class couldn’t have taught me that.)

Is there something about me that causes those in the medical field to disregard me as healthy in every way? I don’t feel healthy in every way. The fact that I feel like I have problem should indicate a problem even if no real problem exists. But no, they always send me on my way with dismissive looks and half-hearted advice.

So I don’t get “help,” I let my friends and family think I’m just crazy and I bury the worst of it. I deal with the accusations of being irrational. I deal with people getting mad at me because I’m ‘not happy with my body’ and I wait for the upswing. I watch videos on YouTube by people with Anorexia and with BDD and secretly I’m a little jealous. They’re DIAGNOSED, they have problems. They’re not just that whiny chick who isn’t smart enough to be happy with herself.

Because as far as the world knows, I have no problems…I’m just irrational.

So thanks, Shrink That I Don’t Have… I’m so glad that we’re on the same page here.


P.S. Too bad I can’t afford to visit you either. I’m bummed that I’m missing out on our quality time together.

Year 11

t was 11 years ago today.

I sat in the middle bedroom at my Granny’s house holding his hand. His breathing was shallow and staggered. He had faded in and out of consciousness several times that evening and we had taken turns sitting with him. We knew he wasn’t in any pain and we weren’t exactly sure he even knew we were there. But we like to think he did. After a very long day and evening, and a day or two prior of much of the same, we knew the time was near.

It was decided by one of us, who exactly I can’t remember and it really doesn’t matter, that maybe we should all go in and tell him it was okay to go. We knew he was ready and it was okay. No matter how many times I say it was okay, it really wasn’t. And still isn’t. Just don’t tell my Dad that.

They tell you that people in a coma or not in a real state of consciousness can still hear you if you talk to them. I know now they are right. Either that, or God heard us and passed the message on to Dad.

It wasn’t more than a few minutes after that, although it seemed like much more, he slipped away. Hearing from us that we were okay and it was time allowed him to let go as well. It was very peaceful. It was heartbreakingly sad. It was something I would never wish on anyone else and at the same time a memory I would EVER want to trade away.

It was 11 years ago today and it still feels like yesterday.

It was 11 years ago and I still miss him terribly.

I love you, Dad.

Three Weeks

3 weeks ago my grandma fell and broke her neck.

3 weeks ago she was rushed to Peoria to see if they could fix her.

At 82 with severe Parkinson’s Disease, degenerative bone disease, (from which she’d lost a whole 12 inches off her height) dementia, and multiple other health problems, we didn’t know what the options were.

The surgeon suggested surgery to repair the fracture. He was hopeful that it would work. Do nothing and she could become a paraplegic if she so much as coughed too hard. Or she could live with the neck brace, which she hated, her lungs could fill up with fluid and she could develop pneumonia. In such poor health, that’s not good.

We opted for surgery; really the only option. Grandma was scared but we all told her we loved her. I told her we would go dancing after she was done as she hasn’t walked in over two years.

She smiled and held our hands, said she loved us and off she went.

Surgery went well and they were able to fix the break. That was not the major hurdle though. Even in good health, Grandma has never done well with anesthesia. Two days before her fall, the dentist didn’t even want to give her a local to fix a couple teeth as she’s allergic to Novocaine.

After surgery, she was put into a regular room and about an hour later, her vitals crashed.

She was gasping for breath. She looked so very scared. She gripped my hand as a wonderful nurse held the oxygen mask on her for close to an hour until they were able to get a bed ready in the Surgical ICU. Once she was settled in the ICU, we each took turns going to see Grandma. She was on a ventilator to help her breathe and give the swelling a chance to go down after surgery. This was against her wishes and she was miserable. She had the vent in for 3 days until it was removed. She did so well.

They observed her for a day in the Surgical ICU (SICU), then transferred her down to another room for a few days.

When she was ready, she was discharged.They didn’t send her back to her assisted living apartment, but to a skilled nursing facility with hospice. Everyone came to visit. Friends, grandchildren, family, everyone. Someone was by her side 24/7. She would talk a little, barely a whisper. Grandma looked at pictures and had us to sing to her while we sat by her side. She told us that she saw my grandpa who passed away in 1978.

She told us all of the beautiful things she was seeing and hearing. It was amazing to listen to her. She told us so many stories. She told us there would be no more pain there and no more wheelchairs. We all laughed and cried and held her hand.

On Tuesday November 16, Grandma took her last breath while my mom sang to her. My mom said it was very peaceful. Grandma wasn’t afraid like she had been in the hospital. I am so very thankful for that. I miss her, maybe more than I can ever express.  My kids miss her too.  They are hurting.  I have given them songs that help them feel better, or so they say.  I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know how to fix their hurt, or mine.

This holiday is especially going to be hard for me.

Last year I was upset because I wouldn’t get to spend it at Grandma’s house. At least I got to spend it with her.

Now I don’t even have that.


I lay curled up on the bed, looking up into my husbands’ face.

“It’s leaving me, baby. It’s leaving me…”

“I know”, he said.

He crawled in next to me, placed his hand on my belly and whispered, “Goodbye…”

And we cried.

I cried the cry that comes up from your tailbone. The cry that hurts the arches of your feet. The cry that doesn’t stop. And when my eyeballs felt like they would fall out of my face, I cried some more.

My mother was in town, thank goodness, but I could hear my son calling for me in the living room.

There is nothing more emotionally confusing than entertaining one child, while physically feeling the one you were growing leave you.

The next day, the doctor confirmed what we already knew.

“I’m sorry, your uterus is empty.”

It was a clean miscarriage, I would not need any kind of removal procedure.

I have never seen an ultrasound without a baby in it. It looked exactly how she said… empty.

“Not even two months along.”

“Not really a baby yet…”

“A collection of cells gone wrong…”

But it was a baby to us.

We made it on purpose. We made it out of hope.

My husband had already started whispering “I love you” to my belly.

My son was already patting my tummy and saying, “Baby in there.”

We made space for it in our lives.

And now that space is empty.

And I feel it. I physically feel it… missing.

My almost-baby.

We will heal.

We will try again.

But right now, I sit here…

just empty.


I’ve just gotten my first period since the loss, and the sight of the blood has me reeling a little.

Thanks, Band – for being here.

What My Abuser Taught Me

You beat me mercilessly and I learned to be gentle with my own kids.

You said hateful things to me and I learned to weigh the consequences of my words carefully.

You sexually abused me and I learned that I could survive pure evil.

You were a raging alcoholic and I learned to watch my alcohol consumption, lest I become you.

You thought only of yourself and I learned to think of others.

You were angry and cruel and I learned that being kind is worth the effort it sometimes take.

You were a judgemental bigot and I learned to be accepting.

You were a horrible parent and I learned what kind of parent I never wanted to be.

You were a horrible husband and I learned to look for a loving heart before appearance, wealth or status.

You always found someone else to blame for your problems and I learned to accept responsibility for my actions.

You would jump to conclusions and accuse and I learned to listen.

You preyed on the weak and I learned to fight for the underdog.

You lied and cheated to get what you wanted and I learned to be honest and trustworthy.

You told me I was worthless and I learned to find my worth from within.

You tried to break me and I learned I have a strength I never knew was possible.

You showed me who you were and I learned exactly what I did NOT want to be.

You tried to kill my spirit and, in the end, all I had learned, set my spirit free.