Going to Melrose was Benj’s idea. I had agreed to see a counselor, but Benj took it a step farther to getting an appointment at a facility that specialized in eating disorders and had an inpatient program of which I had no intention of joining. At that point, I knew I had to do something. God had started a little pinprick in my heart. I knew seeing a counselor was probably a good thing, and I figured I didn’t have that “big” of an eating disorder so the outpatient counseling was the way I would go. And I knew the hell I had put Benj through for most of our married life thus far and figured I owed him the peace of mind that going to Melrose seemed to offer him. He made the appointment. Great. I agreed. I was almost excited about it. I felt like I was getting on top of the obsessive running and minimal eating thing, so going to see someone seemed like just the boost I needed. Again, God must have been tugging just a big harder on my stubborn heart.
When Benj told me that the person he had made the appointment with had told him that all first time patients were required to pack a bag in case the intensive residential program was deemed necessary, I flipped. Dude, I was pissed. I was sure, absolutely positive that they were not going to say I had to stay. I read the packet of information that came in the mail over and over again, analyzing the list of characteristics of patients in the intensive residential program. None of them fit me. 100% sure. I argued with my dear husband who deserved none of my anger. I told him if they for some odd reason told me I’d have to stay, then I’d tell them I’d come back in a week. I couldn’t stay that week because it was parent teacher conferences, state volleyball, my boys’ first swim meet. I didn’t want to tell Mr. Dykstra where I was going. I didn’t want to tell anyone at that point. It felt safer to keep it quiet and let me work through this on my own. Benj offered to call Mr. Dykstra for me. That made me feel like a child. I felt like I had made a pretty big move just agreeing to go, and having to do anything above that was ridiculous and cruel. Benj left for work angry because I was refusing, and I went to school angry because I was being forced to do what I didn’t want to do. Yet why should I have been so angry if I was so sure that I wouldn’t have to stay?
My husband saved my life. He has had to put up with so much crap from me for 13 years. He saw my eating disorder even when I was hiding it so well from everyone else, including myself. And it made me mad that he saw what I didn’t want to admit. I isolated from everyone else, but I couldn’t isolate from him, no matter how hard I tried. But now I know, it was ED hurting him, not me. It was ED trying to isolate me from him, fighting his desperate attempts to see what I was doing. My therapist helped me through the guilt I felt. It wasn’t me pushing Benj away or calling him a liar without so many words. ED ignored him, lied to him, hurt him. I love Benj with all my heart, so when he accused me of loving running more than him, Rhonda knew that was a lie, but ED made my actions prove otherwise. So I’m going to say this again: my husband saved my life.
The afternoon of our fight over me preparing to stay at Melrose by telling Mr. Dykstra and agreeing to pack a bag, Benj came home from work and laid it down. He told me this was it. He knew me. Or in our new understanding, he knew ED’s manipulation. He knew I wouldn’t go back, that no time would be a good time to vacate my life. So he told me I was going to pack a bag and I was going to tell Mr. Dykstra that there was a real possibility of needing a long term sub. End of discussion.
I was scared. The Sunday we left for my Monday appointment, I felt like I was drowning in fear while trying to pretend I was floating safely in my certainty that I wasn’t “that bad”. I didn’t say good bye to the boys in a way that meant “I don’t know when I’ll see you again”. Every time my accountability team (who were the only ones outside of family that knew where I was going) tried to pray for me or give me encouragement, I pushed them away and pretended I didn’t need it. The only time I cried that Sunday was when we left my parents’ house after Sunday dinner and my mom pulled me aside to give me a hug, started to cry, and apologized if any of this had been her fault in some way. Maybe that was my first real inclination of the hurt and fear I had truly caused those I loved.
I packed that suitcase in fear and anger. I will never pack a bag like that again. I will never walk out of my house not knowing if I would be back the next night or not. I will never leave my boys in a lie as to when I would be home. I will never ever force my husband to have to make a decision like that again – because I will never, never watch him drive away in tears, leaving me 228 miles away from home not knowing when I would be back. ED is out. God has my full heart now. There is no halfway. There can be no ED and God. It is physically, mentally, spiritually impossible. God wants, deserves, commands all of my heart. And for the first time in 15 years, I can truly say he has it. And that is why I am home in the arms of the man who loved me enough to leave me behind.