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dear mom

by tracy gillette
(wethersfeild ct united states)


I love you. Remember that through this letter.
Remember when I attempted suicide a year and a half ago, and in the ER you told me you had no idea that I wasn't happy? There's a reason you didn't know. Despite what you and my sisters think about how I'm a whiny, angsty teenager, I do my best to hide the bulk of my pain. You see that I'm very easily affected by things and I have a short temper, but through the years I've made sure that you didn't see why.

I'm not going to get into everything here. That would take several pages--a memoir, really--and it's not the purpose of the letter.

I'm bulimic. I have been for almost two years, since the start of third grade. I'm trying to get better, though, because I know how horrible it is. I haven't purged in almost eight weeks, my record. It's harder than you can possibly imagine.
Remember that this isn't your fault, Mommy. It's not about you. It's about me. And that's what I'm working to change--myself. Don't blame yourself or anybody else for this.

It gets pretty scary sometimes. When I purge, I get these really bad sore throats and headaches. I get dizzy too, for hours and hours and sometimes days afterwards (if I manage to go days without purging). You knew that part; we've talked about how I need vitamins for it. And I think I've got acid reflux or something; after I eat food tries to come up of its own accord. Sometimes my heart pounds. My teeth are worse than ever and I have really bad acid wear.
You read all those things about how bulimia can give you throat cancer and heart problems, even after you've recovered, and how your esophagus or stomach can tear. How you can have electrolyte issues (which causes dizziness). My friend Alexis's mom died of bulimia. I'm scared of all that happening to me. That's why I'm trying to get better, but it's hard for me.

People think of bulimics all being dancers and models, or else girls whose parents ignore them. But it's not like that. It isn't that you ignore me; it's that I'm beyond careful so you don't find out. I know how to maneuver my fingers so I don't scrape my knuckles; I turn the shower on to hide the noise. I've always eaten very little so the purging isn't that noticeable to start with.

Eating disorders are shown as these superficial things where people would "die to be skinny." It's not even about weight, not really. That's how it is on the surface;, whenever I feel full I hate myself, I feel... fat isn't the word. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there. I'm sorry that I can't make you see. But below all the weight stuff, it's about feeling worthless, like you're less than everyone else, like you'll never be good enough by your own standards much less anyone else's. And ashamed and awful, because what you're doing is useless and disgusting.

It's hard to live in a world where you're alone. That's what I've done; I have my own world I don't share with anyone. It's dark and lonely and I'm having trouble escaping from it. That's why I'm telling you now... because I don't want to live like this anymore.

I'm sorry for not telling you sooner. I was scared... am scared. And I'm sorry for all of this.

I need to ask you to respect my privacy and not go through my things or look through my journals now that you know. I've told you the biggest thing, but I want to be able to tell you everything else myself--how it got started, how it feels, everything. I need you to trust that I'll tell you everything in time. I know you'll probably never trust me again after hiding something this big... but I'm asking for the chance to regain that trust.

I love you.

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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community

The Bulimia Recovery Program