What I Wish I Would Have Shared with my Family

I sit here like everyone else, eating our Friday night Shabbos meal which Ima (my mother) prepared for us. I smile when my charismatic brother Shimon says something funny, I listen to Abba’s (my father’s) dvar tora (sermon), and I laugh when my 1-year-old niece Ahuva claps to herself after saying amen to the bracha (blessing). I seem like the rest of my family. Dressed for shabbos – hair, makeup, and all. I look just like I am supposed to look. But I feel so different.

It’s dessert time. I sit on the couch and watch the heated conversations at the table. They all are engaged, chatting, sharing experiences, and laughing. However, their conversations either don’t interest me, or they bring up something sensitive which I want to quickly end. I feel as if everyone is living their life, but my life is so different.

What’s Happening in My Life

You see, I discharged myself from the eating disorder ward just four days ago. For the two months which I was there, everyone around me lived in the same world. We understood each other. We shared a common struggle, and we lived without having to hide big parts of ourselves. Now I come home and none of it is spoken about. I’m living it alone.

Sitting on the couch, I read something that just perked up my “eating disorder voice”. This voice wants me to go back to my old destructive patterns. I try to rationalize with my mind that going back there won’t do me any good. It’s a battle as the desires and urges to go to this dark place become stronger.

Disconnected From My Family

While this is happening, my sister Nechama comes out to the dining room and motions to my sister Gila that she just vomited due to her pregnancy nausea. I then hear another sibling talk about themselves being fat. Great. More triggers for my already battling brain. I want to tell them, “please don’t trigger that talk in my brain.” The destructive thinking patterns won’t end if it begins. It’s a never-ending loop. I’m constantly battling my negative body image thoughts. I don’t want them to get started again.

My mind is racing. I feel like crying because I am so unrelated, disconnected, and separated from them all. I am in a different world. I realize that I need more connection to the people around me. When I say connection, I mean more in common with my surroundings. I feel alone. I feel uninterested in what they speak about. And I’m saddened about this. My brain continues to ruminate thoughts regarding my own body, my worth, and my food intake. Sometimes, I wonder what their reactions would be if they would have a peek into my brain for even five minutes. There is almost no break from the ongoing negative thoughts and beliefs about myself.

Do I Bridge The Divide?

As all this is going on, I think of trying to bridge my world to theirs and share something from my experiences in the hospital. But Gila’s kids – who are in their early teens – will hear me and I am afraid they will ask me all sorts of questions that I will feel too exposed to answer. I am also concerned about saying something that their mom would not want them to be exposed to. Due to these factors, I ultimately do not say anything about my experiences from the past two months in the eating disorder ward. I want to, though. Maybe tomorrow, on Shabbos day.

Letter To My Family

Dear family,

when you ask me to pass the fish and I pass it with a smile, or you ask casually how I am, and I answer quickly, I want you to know that there is so much going on in me that you cannot see. Because I did not yet find the right bridges to let you in. I want to, though. I need you. Perhaps if you can help me by understanding this, it will serve as a first bridge in which to allow our worlds to collide.

-Your sibling

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