Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders
My dad always seemed to find a way to stay strong. During hard times, he remains tough and tells me it’s going to be okay. The day he found out he had a blocked artery and needed heart surgery, the day my grandfather died, the day my mom got hurt and had to go to the hospital, and the day his favorite pet died, he never cried. It’s not that it wasn’t hard for him, it all was. The reason he didn’t cry was because he always wanted me to know that it was okay, that it was all going to be okay. He stays strong because he hopes that no matter how bad the situation, we will find a way out of it. My dad doesn’t cry because he wants me to think that everything is going to be okay.
The outline of all my ribs were visible, even through the tank top I wore. My hip bones stuck out and created a visible lines in the XS leggings I wore which were still too big. You could see my spine through my shirt and my tail bones were visible too. There were bruises on my back from laying down, my bones would cause purple and blue marks to form on the skin covering them. My jaw had become sharp and it looked as if my cheeks went inward. My collarbones practically popped out of my skin and my sternum was defined and visible. If I lifted up my shirt, my deteriorating heart beating slowly through my chest was easily seen.
About a month before the day listed above was the day when I had officially been diagnosed. We had known something was up for a while. The cutting out of food groups; skipping meals; weighing myself at least twice a day; crying before, during, and after eating; the fact that all my clothes now fit loosely; my low energy level; and much more made my parents suspect something wasn’t right. But, today, a professional had given the thing controlling their daughter an official name: anorexia nervosa . That same day, the result from my EKG came in, my heart rate was dangerously low and we were called in the doctor’s office immediately. As soon as I walked in, she put a device on my finger that revealed my heart rate: 38 beats per minute. Due to all the weight I had lost, and the fact that I had been depriving myself of the calories I needed, my body started to break down the muscles in my vital organs in order to receive the energy needed to survive day-to-day life.
My heart was the main victim of this. The doctor told me that I needed to stop water polo and all exercise until my heart rate was normal. Water polo was what made me happy: it was my identity, my passion, my motivation to get better, and my dad knew this. I had never cried so hard in my life. After five minutes of me in tears, my mom broke down too, but my dad stayed strong and comforted the both of us. She then told my parents about the hospitalization programs she recommended for me. I cried on the drive home and for hours when we were home, I cried and cried and cried. As I lay alone in bed that night, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t sleep. My plan was to go to wake up my dad and ask him to be with me, I felt bad about waking him up, but I didn’t know what I would do without him right now. I knew if I woke up my mom, she would start to sob too. It was hard enough dealing with the pain I brought upon myself, I couldn’t manage to see the pain I inflicted on her. I wanted, no, I needed him to tell me that I was strong, tell me that I could get through this, tell me that everything was going to be okay. I walked into their room and used my phone for light, but to my surprise he wasn’t there. I walked back to the hallway and looked at the shut office door with light coming from underneath it. Maybe he wasn’t tired and decided to do some work. That thought made me feel better because then I wouldn’t be waking him up, but as soon as I opened the door, my heart already-failing heart felt like it had stopped working completely. There was my dad: eyes red, cheeks stained. He sat on the floor holding a tissue wet with tears. This was the first time in my thirteen years alive that I had seen my dad cry.