Today was the day Natasha was going to lunch with the other level three girls. Level three means that they’ve scored well enough on the mealtimes that they’ve moved to a higher level. One that comes with the reward, or stress, of eating one meal out during the week. If you remember, the girls are scored (discreetly, not like Dancing With the Stars!) on their food avoidance behaviors at mealtimes. Natasha was at first excited, but then grew quite anxious when the day arrived.
She asked that I talk with the therapists and tell them she couldn’t go. Maybe she could just stay behind? But God is great and she found out that two of her favorite teens were going for the first time as well!
And what a perfect day to walk to a restaurant and eat outside! The nutritionists chose a sandwich shop across the way. During the meal, which I was debriefed on in the afternoon, the girls had help choosing a healthy meal as well as deciphering what the right amount to eat was. Natasha was also in on the meeting and it was a joy to see her chat about it, just relaxing while she ate her afternoon snack and we went over some guidelines on being successful out of program.
Next up was the parent group. I usually look forward to these because it’s a chance to talk. One of my favorite things! But as I sat waiting for the lead therapist to run the group, I realized how the dynamics of the group had changed. It was as if it was a sign that it was indeed time to move on. Parents with similar situations were grouping together only I didn’t have a group. When I say this they weren’t physically getting into groups, just verbally reassuring one another. there was the group with teens who were going to be seniors next year and then off to college, and the group worried about if they’d be safe. Their was the mom who couldn’t understand her daughter’s bulimia, overjoyed that they’re was now another parent of a bulimic in the group. And finally, the new people whom, like many others in the group, were extremely wealthy and gorgeous, and accepted. Their wasn’t a group for mom’s who were going through life as if single, but without the freedom of such.
As I sat in the group, I became aware of just how expensive this program was. I hadn’t really thought of the cost, being blessed with insurance good enough to cover the entire program. But as parents occasionally rattled off what they did for a living, it kind of hit home. And actor, whom I think is just a local sort, not recognizable, a dad working for a well known Internet company, and a dad who works high up in the ranks of a local sports team. My uneducated guess is at least $2000 a day for day treatment, given the meals and support team, rooms, etc.
During this group, we also navigated through the steps one goes through before getting to the full blown eating disorder. The next to last step was “distortion of family identity”. Sounds harmless enough to me until it’s announced that you go back up the steps in recovery. And in recovery it becomes “finding a new family identity”. The therapist goes on to talk about how this might not include the entire family. How the dynamics might be different in recovery. How everyone needs to be on board for this. Then I just sit in my chair feeling the size of a pea, sick to my stomach and dizzy with the realization that it might be time for changes bigger than I had thought of.
By this point in treatment, I have not cried. I have had my eyes tear up, I’ve felt the lump of emotion deep in my chest, but I’ve not cried. I find myself wondering if I’ve just become hardened to life, if I’m no longer able to cry, or if God is just allowing me to hold it together until the appropriate time. I don’t know when that will be! Do I schedule that?!
As we drive back home, headed down I-225, there is the most beautiful rainbow. I almost drive into the other lane I’m so excited! I feel as if God has put that rainbow there just for me. To know that there is hope and that I’m not alone.
Back at home, both older girls have just had it and let me know that they’re tired of being alone, that they feel I favor Natasha more. And the flipping washing machine stops working. I tell them how we only have one more day left at Children’s and then I’ll be home more. But as a mom I feel like a failure. Like I’ve missed a bit of there lives. And I think of that beautiful, red LG washing machine that I dream of. The one that works. I think of how in the world am I going to be strong enough to make this life work. This new family dynamic we’re supposed to have.
And I remember that rainbow and the promise of a new day.