And here we are at the end of the Bulimic Saga. Thank you for reading! If you’re new, I’d advise you to start this short story. Here’s the link:
She tapped her foot nervously on the restaurant’s marble floor. She couldn’t stop checking her watch.
Where is she? She thought. She looked at the restaurant’s entrance. People were streaming in and out but none of them interested her. Suddenly, her eyes spotted a bright red, designer coat that looked very familiar. She looked at the rest of the outfit – nude black Jimmy Choo boots, a knee-length crème dress – it appeared to be cashmere – and a red scarf to top it off. The woman looked glamorous. She stood up and waved at the fashionista. The woman, who didn’t look a day over forty, smiled and made her way towards the table.
She gulped and mentally prepared herself. She stood up. The fashionista stopped as she stared at her daughter in shock.
“Hi Mum,” she smiled, a little sadly. “It’s so good to see you.”
They hugged. Her mother still looked shocked when they sat down.
“You look so different!” she gasped. “You’ve lost so much weight!”
“Yes, so I’ve heard,” she replied. “You should be happy now.”
“I am!” her mother replied happily. “You look great! You could do with gaining one or two more kilos but you look great! How do you feel?”
She clasped her hands at she looked at her mother. The years of arguments about her weight flashed through her mind. The tears she shed after being called “Fat”. The number of times she’d contemplated cutting herself.
“Baby?” her mum put her hand on her daughter’s tense hands. She came back to earth. She smiled at her mum.
“It’s so good to see you, Ma,” she said. Meanwhile, a battle between bitterness and forgiveness raged in her heart. She was looking at the main reason for her insecurities. The source of her pain, she’d always said. She felt her heart harden.
“It’s good to see you too, baby,” her mother said. She could see that she meant it. She took a deep breath.
“I’ve been suffering from an eating disorder for the past year and a half,” she spoke. She looked at her hands. She didn’t want to look at her mother. She couldn’t. “I’ve been in hospital more times in the past six months than I have throughout my entire childhood. I wake up without a voice on some days and my throat burns every now and then. I’m still struggling to keep a meal down without wanting to rush to the bathroom and throw it up. I haven’t thrown up in three months. It’s been hard, so hard. But I’m getting better each day. The depression dies a little after every day but I knew that I couldn’t recover fully without seeing you. I had to see you to settle the years of battles we’ve had because of my weight. I-”
She hadn’t noticed her mother’s hand squeezing hers until then. She looked up and felt a wave of emotion as she saw her mother’s tear-stained face.
Her mother shushed her. The tears on her mother’s face were flowing uncontrollably. She didn’t know what to do; she wasn’t used to seeing her mother cry.
“I knew I shouldn’t have put it off,” her mother wept. “I knew I shouldn’t have.”
She was confused.
“Put off what, Ma?” she asked.
“I’ve been meaning to have this talk with you,” her mother explained. “Baby, I owe you an apology. All these years…I’m so sorry. I was going to speak to you about it but the last time we met, you looked so happy. You looked so comfortable in your body. Then we had a stupid row and this is the first time I’ve seen you in two years and…I’m so sorry. Damn me and my foolish pride. If you hadn’t called to see me, we’d probably still be rowing.”
“Mum, it’s okay –
“No it’s not okay, baby,” her mother covered her mouth. “I let you down. I drove you to this edge. I was only trying to give you a little push. I never meant for this to happen.”
“I forgive you, Mum,” she said quietly. It didn’t seem like her mother had heard her. She was still trying to apologize.
“Mum, I forgive you,” she spoke loudly. “I forgave you the day I realized that I was responsible for this disorder. You may have pushed me but I was the one who shoved my fingers down my throat and threw up everything I ate.”
Her mother winced.
“Sorry,” she apologized. “I was a little raw. What I’m trying to say is I didn’t ask you here to make you beg for forgiveness. I came here to ask for your help. I came to ask for a new start. The same way I’ve decided to start anew with my health. I’ve been seeing a therapist and I had a minor spell at rehab and one thing I learned there is that I needed to have my mother by my side again.”
She was crying too.
“So can we start afresh?” she asked. “Can we put the years of strife behind us and look ahead? I don’t want us to fight. I want us to be friends.”
“I want that too, baby,” her mother cried as they reached for each other. They didn’t notice the people around them who’d heard the entire conversation. Some of the ladies were crying too. A couple of men looked like they were about to become emotional. Others reached for their phones, starting roads of reconciliation with their own friends and family.
The two women broke the embrace and smiled tearfully at each other.
“I love you, baby,” her mother said. “I’m proud of you and I’m here for you. We’re probably going to fight every now and then but I refuse to let any of that come between us. I’m here by your side for life.”
“I love you too, Mum,” she smiled.
The battle was over. She’d forgiven her mother and she’d finally forgiven herself. She still had a long way ahead of her but she knew that she was not going to fall into any ditch any time soon. And even if she did, she had enough the people around her to cheer her on when she climbed out.
For the first time in a very long time, she felt good. And it had absolutely nothing to do with weight.
The world is full of women – young and old – who are not comfortable with their bodies. Plagued by insecurity and a feeling of inadequacy, many of these women resort to harmful habits all in the name of “looking good”. Most of the time, all these women need is a helping hand, a listening ear, and a supportive individual. If you’re suffering from an eating disorder, find someone to speak to. What you are doing is not healthy. Seek help. If you know of someone who is or possibly could be suffering from an eating disorder, I urge you now – forget “It’s not my business” – interfere and save that person’s life! If you won’t, who will?