Asking for help may not be required, but it sure is helpful. Accepting help? Now that’s a different story. For me it is required. As someone recovering from anorexia, I am beginning to see just how much help and support I need. I’m pretty sure it’s fair to say that most people with any kind of mental illness will some day need to stop putting walls up and just be. For the longest time I swore I wasn’t blocking people out. How could I be, when I was perfectly fine talking about what I was going through? Hah! How naive I was. Yes, I would talk if someone poked and prodded me. But I never completely opened up. I wouldn’t even let myself face the truth, so how could I invite someone else to come peer into the windows of my soul with me? My husband felt hurt that I wouldn’t let him or anyone help me. My whole family was asking me how they could help, and guess how I answered? By telling them to leave me alone. I was fine. I could do this alone– I had to do this alone. Ed likes to tell lies. I know now he was feeding me more than just lies about food. He was filling me up with falsehoods about my life, my body, my health, and my abilities. I didn’t find myself changed overnight, it was a process. But eventually I got to a place where if help was offered, I had a little bit of an easier time accepting it.
I’m sitting on the couch watching Orange is the New Black when my husband walks into the room bearing a plate heaped with pasta and vegetables with cheese sauce. My ears had picked up the noise of a packet of parmesan cheese being ripped open, and my mouth opened but then sealed shut again. I had been about to tell him not to dare putting parmesan onto my spaghetti. But then I remembered: me as a child happily pouring piles of the stuff onto my spaghetti. I could practically taste the sharpness of it on my tongue. No, I would not stop him from putting it on my dinner. When the plate was in my hands I saw tiny mounds of white parmesan cheese on top of my spaghetti and meatballs. “Thank you for the parmesan!” I said. I can practically see ed cringing.
A while after dinner a plate was proffered to me. “Two for you and two for me!” Said his happy voice. I looked at the cakes on the plate. “What are these?” I asked. What were they? The most delectable dessert I had tasted in a long time. Sure they came out of a plastic wrapper. But mini cakes with frosting and sprinkles are currently my favorite, thanks to my dessert last night.
These are small ways my barriers are being torn down. In just one meal, I had jumped over a few small hurdles. It felt good. And tasted good. I still have a ways to go though, in lots of areas. Speaking up is not easy for me. Asking for what I need is practically impossible. I hate it because often, I end up hurting when it is not needed. I’ll feel isolated and alone, and end up going to bed hoping tomorrow looks brighter. I hear cars drive by and pray it’s someone coming to give me a hug. I hold my phone and tell myself if it rings in the next minute, that I will be OK, that I am loved. Voicing my hurts and needs are scary and vulnerable-making. But it would save me so much drama to just speak up.