We too have work to do in learning how to be calm and gentle, yet firm and strong as we guide and re-feed. We also have a challenge to not get overwhelmed by fear. Not just for our child who is sick with the eating disorder but also for our other child/children/family members.
As a parent of two kids, it still can completely undo me to think of all my child WITHOUT the eating disorder endured during the chaos that the eating disorder brought into our home. I know I was not an ideal parent for her. Not only was I not as available physically, I was pretty darn absent emotionally as I was consumed with fear that her sister was going to die. And then there was the sadness...watching my child with this horrific brain illness be so sad and get hijacked by this terrifying monster made me sadder than I've ever been. It is gut wrenching like nothing else. I write in my book, "Just Tell Her To Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders" about the hole I felt in my chest for about a year.
So, how do we have a "stiff upper lip" as my British pals love to say? How do we cope? How do we carry on and be effective, loving, attentive parents to our other children?Our other family members still need us to be us.
It isn't easy, but it is possible. With support from other parents who "get it" and won't judge us. From regular contact with a trusted guide to keep us focused on the prize - our child's recovery and our sanity.
Even as I guide other families to resources, sanity and recovery I am daily being conscious of CHOOSING joy and not just hoping it will show up. In the really bad days, I told myself, "If I'm sad too, the eating disorder wins." I was not then and am still not now willing to let that monster win. NOPE. I get to choose joy.
You get to too! :) This doesn't mean we aren't sad and don't grieve all that "ed" has taken from our loved ones and us. We do need to do that work. Trust me on that. But when we're not doing that work, it is a conscious choice. Nelson Mandela is one of the many who have inspired me on choosing one's attitude. He didn't mope away in prison.
We need to be present for ourselves and for those kids who are watching their sibling disappear before their eyes.