ED — I love her. Not you. Let her go.

I knew something wasn’t ontrack. She was calling at 8am.

“What’s wrong?” I ask as soon as I answer the phone.

“Why would you think something’s wrong?” she immediately rebutts.

Ah, that negative fortune-telling. That mother’s intuition. That mother’s worry.

“You’re right. That was uncalled for.” I switch gears. Find my positive frame of reference. Slow down my heartbeat. “What’s up, honey?” I ask my eldest daughter.

“I’m at the hospital,” she whispers.

I can hear the tears in the back of her voice. I can feel the fear leaping into my heart. And in my head, the thirteen year old is busy being right, “Harumph. I told you so. Something is wrong.” I don’t say the words out loud.

“Oh no. What happened?”

She pauses. “I just wanted to get our medical history. I’ve got really bad pains in my chest.”

Panic. Consternation. Fear. She’s only 27. But my brother had heart issues. So does my sister. “What!? You think you’re having a heart attack?”

She starts to cry. “I don’t know.”  She pauses. I remain silent. Waiting for her to speak. And then she blurts it out. “I’ve been acting out.”

I breathe deeply before gently asking, “In what way?”

I know but I need her to speak the words. To let the truth out. “In my eating.”

I can feel the ice gripping my heart. The spider cracks of fear spreading out. I can feel my veins pumping sorrow, sadness, regret. I wanted to believe she was all better. I wanted to believe it was all gone.

I breathe again.

“Tell me what’s happening.”

My daughter has an eating disorder. She’s been doing well and then, it came sneaking back in, insinuating itself in her mind while she was busy thinking she had it all under control.

Mental illnesses are like that. They don’t play fair. They don’t play nice. They have their own set of rules. They don’t have a ‘done by’ date, a best before expiry. They have their own agenda.

I want to take it away from her. I want to make it all better. Make it stop.

And I can’t.

I can only love her. Accept her where she’s at and stay true to what I believe. There is nothing in this world that she can do that would ever stop me loving her, that would ever stop me seeing her as the perfect miracle of life she is.

I want to tell her to look at herself through my eyes, to see the wonder and beauty I see. And I know I can’t.

This is not my path. Not my disorder. Not my role.

My role is to love her. In all kinds of weather. In every kind of condition.

That is easy.

What’s hard is knowing the pain she’s in. What’s hard is knowing I can’t take it away. I can’t stop it. I can’t change it.

And the Al-anon slogan slips into my mind. “You didn’t create it. You can’t change it. You can’t cure it.”

But I want to. I want to not only change and cure it, I want to carry the blame. I want to own it. I want to make it mine. Because maybe if I own it all, she won’t have to. Maybe if she knows it’s all my fault, she’ll be able to let it go. Maybe if ED knows I created him, he’ll let her go and attack me. I can take it. I can carry it.

And that’s the challenge. No matter how hard I want it to let go of her, no matter how I want to help her let go of it, sometimes, things don’t let go of us.

My daughter has an eating disorder. I know enough about them to know that they never really leave. That those who have been afflicted with their presence are never really free of their insidious desire to steal well-being away. That the only ‘cure’ is to live in the light. To be vigilant and stalwart in your desire to stay the path of living free of their calling.

And sometimes, whether an eating disorder, alcohol or drug addiction, or stopping smoking or committing to a workout regime or any of the other things we do to create well-being in our lives, sometimes, we lose ground. Sometimes, we fall back.

And when we do, there is only one thing we can do.

Begin again. Always begin again.

My daughter has an eating disorder. It’s reared it’s ugly head again. Stolen her peace of mind, and her confidence in her ability to live free of its insidious call to pull her under.

She is beginning again.

So am I.

Learning to accept, I did not create this. I cannot change it. I cannot cure it.

All I can do, is Love.


Alexis wrote a powerful and moving piece on her blog on Sunday about ED and its presence in her life. The White Flag. 




32 thoughts on “ED — I love her. Not you. Let her go.”

  1. Alexis is one of the bravest and strongest people I know, you are one of the others!

    I am so sorry to hear that Ed is rearing it’s horrible head again and stealing the joy of such a brilliant, beautiful young woman. Thank you for your care, your love is powerful and I am glad that she has you by her side. xx


    1. Thank you Laura. If you were here on this side of the ocean, I would wrap you up in arms of love so you could know — there is nothing in this world more important than your presence shining brightly. Love and hugs my young friend.


  2. Oh Louise I will be praying!
    It is so hard as the mom trying to be supportive without getting to hover like the helicopter moms we sometimes tend to be. And being far away… whether just a few hours or across an ocean… letting go is one of the hardest things we ever do!!! I remember when my daughter had the flu…. she was throwing up several times and hour… had a fever etc… Fortunately my best friend and her husband only live a few miles away which translates into about an hour in LA!!! But they drove out on a Sunday to bring her a care package! I love my freinds!
    I just wanted to share this video! I am sure you have seen it before….
    but I never related it to us as parents or for that matter the way our kids might look at us at times.
    The nail always hurts. Whoever is wearing it and whoever is seeing it. I think we trade off at certain times.
    But it is a cute reminder to stop looking at the nail… to stop trying to always fix things and to just listen.
    I love when he starts listening and she is so grateful… and then… it is just so hard to not jump right back into looking at the nail. LOL.
    I have always related to the girl… with the nail. But in regard to my husband and my communication skills at times.
    But I think it can also, really relate to us in the parent/adult child scenario. I know I do it with my son.
    Even if you have seen this… it is worth the minute it takes to watch it again and get a chuckle.
    Hugs! And prayers!


  3. As a sufferer of anorexia myself, I can definitely relate to this. My mother has had to go through quite a bit of pain due to my disorder, and even if it’s not her fault that I am sick – I think that she secretly wonders in the back of her head if there was something she could do. Just a little thing to change it all around.

    I’m glad you see that you can’t change it – you can’t cure it. All you can do is love her unconditionally and maybe the love will chase the disease away.

    I wish you and your daughter all the best.



  4. Louise. I have tears reading your post today. Thank you so much for your honesty. Braveness and being willing to discuss our strengths. Our weaknesses and what it is to simply be human. And how you phrased our struggles as our ways of taking away our own well bring. That made me think
    Once again I need to tell you how you’ve made a difference in my life as I overcome my own battles. Begin again indeed. Di


  5. Sending love, Louise. And it CAN leave completely. It may not, but it CAN. Also, coming back doesn’t mean it hasn’t left completely at one point. She has got so many holes to fall in in this life. Celebrate she is one hole closer to the end.


  6. It’s difficult being a MOM. We are always moms. We never stop being moms. We are Sacred Witnesses. We are the silent strength when all goes awry for our loved one. And it’s hard to be silent, and a witness. We can be testimonials to their strengths though. We can feed that side of them. YOU do that Louise. You feel her pain, and then realize you cannot help her by being in it with her. But when you can feel all of the greatness you know is in her, even in your silence, she will hear it with her heart, “You ARE love.”


  7. Oh, Louise — finally catching up on some reading. I’m so sorry for the both of you, it’s a difficult struggle. But there are inevitable stumbling blocks, and she was strong enough to call you and admit them. That’s a really good thing. Hang in there, you guys have more than enough love to get through this little blip.


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