December 31, 2002
It’s around 9pm, and my family and I are arriving at my aunt and uncle’s for their annual New Year’s Eve party. As is customary for my aunt and uncle, this year they went all out.
The car ride over was stiff; my older sister’s angry about something, my father concentrated on the road, my mother preoccupied with the guilt from events of earlier that day, and I’m comfortably sitting in the silence.
The many party-goers in attendance have painted the room with a lively hue, but that doesn’t stop the stiffness from following us as we enter the festive home.
My sister runs off to find my cousin, and before heading over to the bar, my mother looks sternly at my father and demands, “Look after her. I just can’t. Make sure she eats something.”
Back in June my mother took me to see an eating disorder specialist for the first time. After being diagnosed with Anorexia, I began outpatient treatment there, but the treatment seemed to backfire as I began to use the eating disorder as a form of rebellion. Being but 13, I was both dumb and ignorant–too dumb to see that I was the one being used, and too ignorant to realize the only thing I was rebelling from was my own freedom.
About two months later, my mother realized that this facility wasn’t the best fit for me, but she didn’t give up. She set up appointments with as many therapists as she could, hoping I would connect with one of them–hoping I would admit I needed help. But I remained noncompliant.
That therapist doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
I don’t see how this is going to solve the problem.
Maybe I don’t want help.
After a heated argument back in October, my mother decided to relinquish her reigns. She told me she was exhausted, she told me she couldn’t do this anymore. And I told her I was fine, that I could care for myself.
But just as soon as my mother loosened her grip, the rules tightened theirs, and by early December I dropped to my lowest weight ever. The thing was though, I honestly thought I was doing great. I thought I looked great. And then on the morning of the 31st, reality came rushing in.
“Get in the car.”
On the way over, my mother explained where we were going.
“I’m taking you to a psychiatrist recommended by the city.”
“But I thought that you…”
“Talia…you’re scaring me, and I know I said that I would let you do this on your own terms but…I can’t just watch you…please let’s just see what he has to say.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about–I’m fine.”
“Please honey. Just one meeting.”
The man in the suit listened as I told him how it all began. He listened as I told him my thoughts, my fears, my feelings. He listened as I talked about my insecurities, my eating regimes and my body image. He did a blind weight check, and took some time to think.
Then, after speaking briefly with a colleague of his on the matter, the man in the suit told my mother and I that I needed to go to a facility, that I needed intensive care that no local doctor could provide, that I needed to be taken away.
“Nobody is taking my daughter away from me.”
My mother hadn’t spoken a word to me since we left the psychiatrist’s office earlier that morning, and it seemed as though she was staying as far away from me as possible during the party.
My mother hates me.
Before making my way to the couch, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror; my short, thin hair gelled to perfection, my colorful shirt bedazzled with red and orange, and my jeans hanging off my emaciated frame. I stare at this stranger in the mirror as I recall what had happened that morning.
As the night continues I remain on the couch, content only to be alone, but my mother is concerning people.
She’s had too much to drink.
Is something wrong with her?
She needs to go home.
Although I can’t hear what they were saying, I see that my mother and father are fighting. She starts crying, and then runs out of the house. Worried that it’s all my fault, I follow her.
But there’s no answer.
“Mom, where are you???”
I begin looking. I run past the driveway, and down the street, but have no luck. And then, on my way back to the house, I hear it–deep, sad sobs. The incontrollable kind that hurt your every inch from the inside out. I have never seen my mother cry like this.
“Mom, what’s wrong? Why are you out here? Why are you crying? Why won’t you talk to me?”
Inside the house, the countdown has begun: 10, 9, 8…
“Honey, I’m so sorry. It’s not your fault..I’m not mad at you..I don’t what to do anymore and I’m just scared…so scared.”
“Why? Why are you scared. Mom, talk to me.”
3, 2, 1…
“I don’t know what to do anymore. Nothing is working..and I look at you and I know I’m failing and…”
She brushes the hair off her face and looks me in the eye.
“I’m scared my daughter is going to die.”
I grab her hand, and with all the sincerity I have I say, “I’m not going anywhere.”