Over the many years of living with my eating disorder, there have been some incredibly kind people who have helped me in my journey towards recovery. Many of those individuals have gone out of their way, and beyond the call of duty in order to bring down my eating disorder.
I would like to introduce one of those very special people, Anna Polizio. Anna is Italian – this of course isn’t something I would normally need to reference, but on this occasion holds some relevance!
Anna is Italian in every sense of the word and expresses her love in the traditional ‘Mamma Mia’ way – through her food. Having taken some time off work due to another relapse, Anna suggested I come and live with her for a few weeks. She felt sure that she could ‘cure’ me through love and good food. I was scared, but was willing to try anything, so I packed my bags and moved in with her husband and their young baby. There was no spare room in their small flat, so you can imagine how much my presence impacted them as a family. Despite this, Anna and her husband opened their home to me without hesitation.
Anna’s motto or tagline at every meal we ate to encourage me was, “Made With Love”. I have since quoted this phrase to myself numerous times when my eating disorder pipes up. It helps me to reframe the eating disorder voice with my healthy self, and be grateful for being able to enjoy something that someone has taken the time to prepare for me. Every time I rejected the food, it was like I was rejecting Anna, which of course I would never want to do. An eating disorder doesn’t care for those who attempt to drown it, and ultimately my anorexia won. It was one ‘MOTHER F*****” of a monster and was even too strong for Anna’s force.
What Anna and her husband did for me though, is something I will never forget. Anna showed me that food was not an avenue for hate, but that it was a demonstration of love – something to enjoy and share. Anna made me feel cared for and part of something. Looking back it was a feeling of connection that I was desperately missing in my life. My stay with Anna and her husband ended up being much longer than anticipated, and in hindsight I became afraid to leave. I had begun to feel safe, but after several months it had beaten them down, and it was only right that I took my monster elsewhere.
I asked Anna if she would share her experience of me staying with her. My hope is that it will give you (carers, friends or sufferers) an insight into the invasion that an eating disorder can have on others.
Over to you Anna…or Wifey for which I ended up referring to her as!
Just eat the f*ck*** potato Laura!!” Love Wifey.
We were about 4 weeks in. Laura was staying with us at a time when she felt she couldn’t be on her own. She was desperate to get better. To heal. I was desperate to help her.
As a dear friend, it was painful to see her chained to such a non-sensical and unforgiving disorder. I was convinced I could help. With love you can accomplish anything right? Well kinda, but it’s not that simple!
So…picture this…there’s me, a 6 foot husband and an 18 month old baby. A two bedroom apartment. Add a thriving eating
disorder to the mix and you can imagine how snug it was!
On this particular evening, Laura and I had negotiated that she would eat 3 baby potatoes with her meal. We negotiated a lot! I can’t quite remember if I’d served fish or chicken with it (+ Veg). I wanted to give her 4 potatoes, but she got me down to 3. Let me emphasise, these were baby potatoes, the real baby ones. Laura ate 2 and was nursing the third on her plate for some time. I was tired and patience was running low. I shouted at her to eat the potato.
I got up from the table and went to my bedroom to cry. “Why is she doing this on purpose!” I thought. “How much more attention does she need?!” I was giving her my everything, and yet it still wasn’t enough.
Having experienced an eating disorder first hand, I knew the answers to the questions. It wasn’t my friend I was arguing with that evening, but the uninvited, imposter that had taken up residency in Laura’s mind for far too many years.
To this day I still don’t know if she ever did eat the potato. So Laura…did you??
I’m so proud for how far you’ve come darling, keep up the good fight!
Much love, always xxx