Tuesday morning I thought I’d do something different and drive 25 miles to Children’s hospital then to work, then back up to Children’s and then home. SO thankful for Mp3 players! Who knew that every radio station could have commercials for 35-45 minutes straight! And on this particular day, the traffic headed north on I-25 was going so fast that I feared the other drivers were outrunning something that I didn’t yet know about!
Natasha spent her day in the various groups she participates in with me coming back up at 4pm to participate in the family group therapy. This includes all of the families of the kids currently in treatment. I vacillate between calling them girls, kids or teens, but truth be told the ages span from 10-18 with one of the patients being a boy. For the sake of continuity, I’m just going to call them teens, as kids seems to offend larger portion of them!
These Tuesday groups can get pretty intense as we focus on the eating disorder and the emotions that are bringing it out. Today’s group is called “Interview with an Eating Disorder”. This is where the parent gets to “talk” to the eating disorder, not the teen, and ask it anything they want. First off was the girl we often see sad, who has since become a bit happier and often joins us at dinner. Her parents are not in attendance (living out of town far enough to not be able to commute everyday) so one of the female therapists takes on the role of asking questions.
Some of the questions asked were, “When did you first enter my daughter’s body?”, to which the teen answered, “about 3 years ago”. “Why?”, the therapist asked. “Because I was too fat and wanted to fit in at school”
Where’s my dammit doll! Darn this society that give our teens this image of what it deems beautiful. Darn the teens at school for being so dang hard on each other and so unforgiving of imperfections.
The teen went on to answer more questions, and she did such a wonderful job. But it cut right into my heart and took me to that place of sadness that I despise. I thought of how many times my own girls had been told they were fat. Often times by well-meaning relatives, though sometimes the words weren’t spoken so bluntly.
Natasha bravely raised her hand. Something she could not have done even a few weeks ago, being so shy. We gave it a try but she started to panic so we didn’t finish. But everyone was proud of her for stepping out there, as was I!
Next up was a teen whose eating disorder started with the unacceptable “B” she got in a higher math class at school. Her first one ever.
Then came the kicker. The young boy, who is only 11 and whose father left the family. It started off pretty innocently, just skirting around the questions his mom asked. As they got further into the questioning, the therapist asked the eating disorder of this young man why he wouldn’t let him eat. It helped the teen to not feel anything, to remain numb. Further into questioning, the young teen broke through and blurted out “I wish I had a dad!” and started to cry, as did every mom in the room. He’s known as the clown. The funny one who can’t sit still. And I related very much with him and wondered if I’ve used that tactic too often. Only I couldn’t crack a joke. I had to just sit there and feel the sadness. Yuck.
The interesting part of these intense Tuesday groups is after every person is all emotional and upset, we have to go to dinner and get these teens to eat, as well as ourselves. Who has an appetite?!
But off we went. We had invited the sad girl to sit with us. She’s also a Christian and she lives in a small town that we’re familiar with that is closer to Cheyenne. She’s such a delight to sit with. At 18 she look much younger, though she is very tall. Natasha, her friend and I talk of our faith and she tells us of how she has the chaplain come down on Fridays to have a study with her. It’s then that I realize in just two days we’ll be out of the program. I’m thankful her parents will be back for the weekend.
Wednesday, Natasha will go out to lunch with the level three group. During this time they learn how to order what fits in there meal plan and what a proper portion would be since often times restaurant give huge amounts of food. Natasha is not excited about this. She’s not a big fan of restaurants. I fear that I’m to blame for that! My own anxiety gives me a list of things a restaurant can’t have that make it hard for me to eat out, and I’ve often shared these things with my girls. Usually inadvertently and during a time when one of the things on the list were present and sent me into a panic. Some funny stories there, but I won’t get into that now. Suffice it to say it’s hard to go out to eat with 5 people when 3 out of 5 won’t sit on the inside of the booth! You do the math!
But you go girl! I’m praying for success for you, Natasha. It’s the little successes sometimes that get us through!