Someone very special to me, and essential in my recovery process, pointed out that I have talked about food a lot lately, which admittedly I have. But she also made me realize that I often do this when I’m trying to mask what is really going on in my life.
I think you could gather than I’ve been pretty lonely the last few days, and there is a bunch of stuff going on in the lives of my family members that I really haven’t touched on here because I didn’t know if anyone would care, or if it was the right time. But I can definitely agree with my wonderful friend, that the loneliness and void I have felt in the past week, is super uncomfortable because I have a long history of abandonment issues.
To fully explain my family, and essentially my feelings on abandonment, it will require multiple posts and I am definitely willing to share that abundance of information with you, but today I want to go back to my post about loneliness.
I mentioned the strong support system I have between my husband and my mother. That is one hundred percent true and I am very blessed by having Ryan and my mom to see me through some super difficult times, but there are things from my past that have made me have a lot of trust issues, and a fear of being too close, making it almost impossible to stay connected with people, or reach out for help.
This sounds very vague, I understand, so let me go back to the beginning….
Every now and then I speak of a man I call Poppy. Fred aka Poppy, or the Popster, is for all intensive-purposes my father. We are not related by blood, he was not there when I was born, in fact he only came into my life at the age of 16, but has served as a parent to me ever since. Before marriage I had his last name, he calls me his daughter, treats me as if I was his own, and was married to my mom for a little over three years. I absolutely adore this man and am very grateful to have him.
Until my 16th year, my uncle was the closest male to me, because I had never met my biological father. He was significantly older than my mom, and unfortunately they didn’t work out, so decided to go their separate ways.
I had a great childhood with my mom and sister. You become incredibly close with people, when they are really all you have, and I have fantastic memories as a little girl…
I also have some sadness that I am still afraid to tap into and often don’t admit because it’s really painful.
I ask myself why John (biological father) never contacted me? Or put forth an effort to be my dad, because the worst of it is, we lived right down the street from one another, went to the same Country Club, and look pretty much identical.
I can’t remember thinking or feeling a void in my younger years, it was more late elementary school and beyond where there was a void but I couldn’t pin-point what it was. Everyone else around me seemed to know John, that we were related, and maybe even some details as to why he and I had never spoken, but I felt left in the dark, which made me feel as if I wasn’t good enough.
He left me, I thought. He didn’t want me, and that must mean I have something inherently wrong with me because as a parent aren’t you supposed to love your offspring unconditionally? I must have been flawed at birth because after that, he was gone.
When I had to go to court to get my name changed, John was required to consent, but since I waited until I was 18 we could proceed if an attempt to contact him was made and he didn’t respond…which apparently was the case. Both my Poppy and my mom asked, at this point, if I wanted to interact with him since I was an adult and had that right, but at this point I was in college, pretty consumed with my own life, appreciative of the family I had, and the easiest answer to give was no. If I had said yes, I knew it would open a wound that I had never really addressed, nor did I want to…I happen to stink with emotions, and dealing with them, so I figured, if I never met him then really, no more harm could be done.
So, it came as a very big surprise last summer, when I was in residential treatment down in Tennessee, and the mail came with a letter featuring John’s name. Yes, in the return address corner was the name of my biological father.
At first I laughed because this had to be a joke. I was 22 years old and had never heard from this man before so there was absolutely NO way he wrote me a letter when I was half way across the US, in a facility to overcome addiction.
I didn’t open it right away, mostly because I was scared and didn’t want to cry in front of the other girls. I used to have a lot of shame when I expressed any kind of feeling because I thought it made me look weak and I did not want anyone’s pity for a situation that seemed as silly as this.
I finally opened the envelope when I was in the privacy of my own room, read the content and of course bawled like a baby because I was embarrassed that this is how we were first “meeting,” and because it was a beautifully written text that made me think maybe he did want me and there were other reasons behind his absence.
To make a long story short, he wrote me letters at least once a week, and I always responded. He sent me flowers on my birthday, sent pictures of when he held me in the hospital, and wrote of all the times he checked up on me through mutual friends. Part of me did not believe a single line because if this were true where was he the last 2 decades? But the other side of my heart desperately wanted to know more, and have him in my life, just like I had fantasized for years, about how wonderful our relationship could be.
When I finally got home, he had written about meeting in person. It took me a while but I finally got the nerve to call and we made plans to meet for breakfast. Both his wife and Ryan came along, and it was somewhat awkward but yet weirdly comfortable at the same time. It was remarkable how similar we were, physically and in personality. Our mannerisms were identical, he claimed he could not start a day without taking a long walk (holy shmoly exercise addiction!? See I come by it honestly!!!) and I felt strangely at ease in his presence.
A few days later he called and asked if I wanted to join him on his daily stroll, just the two of us. I figured this would be the best time to get some answers as far as my past, and his side of the story so I happily agreed. When I arrived at his home, he did wonder what questions I had and I should have prepared myself but I found it really hard to organize 23 years worth of inquiries into an hour-long walk. At this point I truly believed I would have the rest of his, or my life, to find out more…
Unfortunately, that was our last encounter. Perhaps its my fault because I didn’t make a huge attempt to call him following the morning stroll, but in my mind I wanted him to be the one to reach out. I felt if he made the effort it meant he really cared, and wanted me as much as I needed him. And the lack of communication solidified to me that he didn’t really care.
I realize now that this was one of the causes of a major relapse I had shortly after, because he helped confirm my feeling of unworthiness, and how I considered myself a defective human. To demonstrate these beliefs I deprived myself of nourishment. I felt like I didn’t deserve food, or the same happy life as some of my peers.
My relationship, or lack thereof, with John, also made me distance myself from other people, pushing them away like I explained in my loneliness entry, because to me, if I acted like I didn’t need them, and basically forced them to leave, then it wouldn’t hurt as bad when they did. I truly believed, because I was an “unworthy individual,” that everyone would also come to this conclusion and leave by their own will.
I am still really working on combating these negative thoughts, because these feelings of distrust have left me nearly friendless, or at least pretty anti-social, has isolated me from a lot of family that I used to be very close with, and completely stripped me of the confidence I once had.
Maybe I was right when I thought it would be easier to never have met John in the first place. At least then it was SOMEWHAT my choice that he wasn’t there, or I could pretend it was, but when he failed to continue with contact, and I again felt like I wasn’t good enough.
But this isn’t true! I have faults, yes, many, but I am not a horrible person. I try really hard to lead a life I can be proud of, and the last few years just happen to be a slip. I know, as I continue my journey to health, and come closer to the end, I will be an even better person and might be able to help others, which is something I value greatly.
One of the things I learned through therapy and in programs is that the only way to recover, or gain back some self-worth, is by surrounding yourself with others. When my mind was only consumed with negative self-talk, and I didn’t believe anyone would want to be around me, I kept myself trapped; trapped in a dark hole with just me and ED. Relationships replace eating disorders, and I am trying everyday to implement more connection and eliminate the old destructive one, which is why being lonely, or feeling abandoned, makes me scared, and perhaps why I have been distracting myself with food.
For anyone who struggles with an addiction, or even any destructive behavior, it is usually to cover underlying emotions you are uncomfortable expressing. This is absolutely true for me, and it might be for you. If you find yourself doing this I urge you to really look at what’s going on inside…it may just help combat the urge to continue in an unhealthy pattern…
It’s hard to express some of the feelings I have through a blog post, but I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read. It means a lot and makes me feel very connected, so thank you.
Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, and please take a moment to remember those lost in September 11th.