Thursday, February 17, 2011

Letting Go

Today marks the 8th anniversary of my father's death.

I don't think I need to explain how I feel today. Or maybe I do. People assume, myself included, that once the grave is dug, the body is buried, the mourning period has passed, and the griever has returned to what appears to be a normal life again, that the pain is over, or that it's less somehow. But that isn't true. I miss my father terribly. I miss him more than I'll ever be able to explain. 8 years seems like a long time. It seems like it should be easier by now to cope with his passing. But each year that goes by, instead of learning to deal with his absence and miss him less and less, I miss him more and more. I am constantly reminded on days like today that he's never coming home. And then I grieve all over again.

I wrote a post a couple of months ago in which I had a major epiphany. I had always assumed my eating disorder was my unintentional way of coping with the death of my father. But I realized while writing that post that my eating disorder was actually my way of not coping with the death of my father. Shortly after he passed away my eating disorder began. I had no time to think of him. I had no time to approach and deal with the emotions that followed his death. I kept myself busy with diet plans and calorie counting and constant weight loss.

So, 8 years later, I still haven't properly dealt with all of this. I still haven't faced the issue head on. Every time I think of my Dad I either smile and then think of something else very quickly, or I feel the knives in my throat and the sensation that I'm going to cry, and then think of something else very quickly.

After my father's funeral, everyone commented on how well I was taking his passing. Considering how close he and I were, I suppose everyone thought I would fall apart. And I did. It just took a few months to manifest itself. Of course I cried at his funeral. I did nothing but cry for days and days and days. And then I went numb. According to those who believe that there are 5 stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance) I have never made it past stage 4. The denial, the anger, and the bargaining all happened when he was so sick with cancer he could no longer talk or walk or function, when he became bed-fast and the doctors told us he'd never recover. The depression set in too, but after he died, it skyrocketed. Then the eating disorder kicked in. And the acceptance, well, I suppose I haven't gotten there yet.

I've always thought of the depression and anxiety I feel due to losing my father as something completely separate from the anxiety and depression I feel due to my eating disorder. But I'm learning very quickly that perhaps they're related. And perhaps I can never recover from one until I'm ready to recover from both.

I have to admit my food intake has been low for the last two weeks. I've been anticipating today for a long time. I've been thinking about Dad a lot. I've been thinking about the collapse of our entire family structure. I've been thinking about lots of sad things. I haven't been thinking of recovery. I've also been working a lot. I've worked 7 shifts in a row, many of which were doubles. Most days I returned home from work about 10 or 11 pm. I've eaten breakfast every day but that's it. No lunch, no dinner. I justify this by telling myself that I don't have time.

But that's not true.

I don't think that this is a relapse. And I know that my behavior is not okay. I know I need to eat. I know how vitally important it is. I know all of those things. But I'm so overwhelmingly sad that I don't even have an appetite. I also know that's no excuse. Like I've said before, recovery has to be a conscious effort. You have to actively think about it and pursue it if you want to accomplish it. Unfortunately for me, I haven't been, at least not lately.

I have a lot of work to do to get myself healthy. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. I have a lot of work to do, but I still know I can do it. I don't know how, but I have faith.

Each year on the anniversary of my father's death I can think of nothing but the Emily Dickinson poem "After great pain a formal feeling comes." In the final stanza, she says

This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow--
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

Here's to letting go.


  1. I'm so sorry about your father and that you even have to deal with something like this at the same very young age that I am.

    I can't even begin to imagine the pain and the agony. I wish I could write something really inspirational to help you. But, I'm just going to wish you strength and send you cyber-hugs (that sounds dirty, heh), and love.


  2. I am really sorry about your dad. It is not easy to lose someone. I have lost someone too and it has not been a day without me thinking about her. My heart just swells and ebbs when I close my eyes to remember her. Then it becomes too painful (even good memories are painful) then I just start thinking about something else.

    It is just too hard for me to remember both good and bad times. It is easier for me to just not think about it.

    But you are right. It is NOT a healthy way of coping. It is NOT a form of coping to not eat, restrict, and over-exercise.

    The hard part is to let go of our ED and face emotions. I am trying right now, and it is hard, but I have faith that I will be able to cope with many things including the person I have lost.

    And I know you will too.

  3. I'm so sorry.

    I know you can do it too. I believe in you.

    Lots of love x x x

  4. You are so strong; your dad would want you to be happy and healthy. So let's kick ED's butt!
    You're in my thoughts & prayers!
    <3 Haley

  5. Your in my prayers!! <3

    Work through your emotions and don't let ED get you down...Stay strong!

  6. I'm so sorry about your dad. You are in my prayers!

    You can continue to recover and be healthy. Please stay well.



  7. That is really beautiful. I have always loved that line about the hour of lead.

    I don't even know what to say to the depth of the emotion you wrote about. Except to offer you my empathy. Hang in there.

  8. Ouch. Tears.
    My heart aches for you.
    No, it doesn't get easier, just more REAL. I saw in your words their is a strong part of you analyzing how this grief affects you...even in terms of your eating, and that's a win. Knowing is half the battle.

    Please be easy on yourself during this rough time. Light candles, cuddle yourself, and let the tears flow. Tears are healing.