January 29, 2007 marks the year date when Allison first came to me that night to tell me, “Mom, I think I have an eating disorder.” It’s really hard for me to fathom how much happened in one year. But our family is proof of “turning heartbreak into new beginnings.” In fact, these past holidays brought another milestone for my evolving relationship with Allison and our ongoing road to recovery.
How I was looking forward to her return from college and a lengthy stay home (3 weeks). However, it started off a bit rocky. I didn’t realize just how much I was still not communicating as honestly as I proclaimed to. Mostly because the “mama bear” in me still had the need to walk on eggshells and hold in some of my true feelings in the guise that she needed handling with “kid gloves.” And how wrong I was.
After a couple of incidences where she knew I was holding back, (she really can read me so well) Allison had the courage to confront me. And there I began divulging the fear I had been holding onto. That if I expressed anything I labeled negative about her behaviors or feeling in disagreement with her, that she would crumble and it would be my fault for setting her backwards. And it was that fear that made me feel so lost, so weak and insecure. I was in tears by the time I was able to finally get all of that out.
And there it was… the turnover. She grabbed my hand and said, “Mom, I’m stronger than you think. I need for you to be honest with me and I’m okay with that. I want to be honest with you.”
I can’t describe the HUGE weight she took off of me with those words.
The greatest gift she gives to me is sharing her life with me, telling me about the work she has done and continues to do on her road to recovery as well as life discoveries with herself, new relationships and new situations. It’s normal for mothers and daughters to want to look for the common characteristics as a way to feel connected. However, I’m finally accepting how different we are and learning to embrace those differences. And that feels pretty big for me to say out loud.
I see her as such a work in progress, needing to find her own voice, her own strength within. And she is quite an inspiration for me to continue doing the same because no matter what age, aren’t we all still works in progress?