Yesterday, I began sorting through my options for personal disclosure – both of my recent commitment to Bright Line Eating, and my reasons for taking this final step – namely, a long history of disordered eating and food addiction. The decision is shaping up to be even more difficult than I’d imagined – and I didn’t think it was going to be easy. I narrowed down my list to the serious candidates, and considered both of my parents, neither of whom, at this point, have been ruled out.
It is now time to turn to my sisters.
Growing up in a house of girls was great fun. When I was young, I may have wished for a brother, but I really liked my family the way it was. If anything, we could have used another girl or 2. Though we fought with each other something awful, at times, my sisters and I are now the best of friends – just like our mother told us we would be, despite our incredulous eye-rolls. Really, I could tell any one of them, and probably be ok. But having to decide which of them would be the best one to tell is creating its own anxiety. If you haven’t noticed by now, I am not good at making decisions. I have a horrible fear of making the wrong choice.
Maybe that’s my problem, right there. Maybe there is no wrong choice. Maybe this isn’t nearly as important as I think it is – and whoever I tell, this will be a positive experience.
Nope. I tried to convince myself, right there, but it didn’t work. There are too many necessary considerations. And I’ve read too many novels to be led to believe that any of my choices are insignificant. This is a serious matter, and I will give it the thought and attention it deserves.
Option 3: J.E.
JE is the closest to me in age – 2 years younger. We shared a room until I left home for university, which means I fought with her more than either of the others. We had a bit of a power struggle, as well. I was the oldest, but naturally ill-suited to the role of authority figure; whereas she was in the unenviable position of being power-hungry, yet continually in subordination to her older sister. I envied her for being beautiful, and she was jealous of the praise which my school performance and good behaviour brought me. We seemed destined to be adversaries for life.
This changed when I left home at the age of 18. We were no longer in tight quarters. No longer involved in a power struggle. I was able to relax, and she matured. After my last year of undergrad, the spring before she was married, we took a week-long trip to Florida, just the 2 of us, and I don’t think we had a single argument.
Of all my sisters, she’s the one I spend the most time with. I’m more involved in her children’s lives than the others, because she’s granted me an enormous amount of leeway with them – to treat them almost as I would my own. It’s an unexpected and unearned privilege, to be trusted as a positive influence and rational decision-maker, particularly by someone who guards her children from outsiders with as much ferocity as JE does. This trust, and the close interaction with her family, has made us closer as sisters than we ever used to be. It would be easy to find an opportunity to talk to her.
There is a part of me, though, that is still afraid of her. Whatever else she may be, she is not a woman to be crossed. She would have made a better teacher than I did – her students would have loved her for her beauty, and obeyed her out of fear. Even when she’s not trying to be intimidating, she manages it. She can be kind, when she tries – and I think she tries very hard, with me – but she is also quick to judge, and easily annoyed.
I do not wish to be an annoyance. And I’m afraid that if I told her who I really was, she would be disgusted.
Option 4: K.S.
KS is the most like our mother: rational, easygoing, and content. She also possesses an uncommon intelligence, a unique prettiness, and extremely winning ways. She is a person who will always attract people to her, with cheerfulness and enthusiasm and good ideas. It’s a good thing she’s also level-headed and conscientious, or else her life could have turned into one of parties and dissipation.
KS lives farther away than my other sisters, which could be a good thing. I wouldn’t have to be continually meeting her, and wondering what she’s thinking. She could handle the disclosure without much emotion, incorporating the information without any feeling of responsibility. It wouldn’t disrupt her well-ordered life.
On the other hand, there would be some judgment there, as well. The depths to which her eldest sister had fallen would be something of a shock, to her. I would lose some of the small amount of respect she still has for me. As with my mother, I worry that she would be ashamed.
Option 4: J.M.
My youngest sister is most like me, in many ways. She’s a thinker, and a dreamer – though our dreams differ, somewhat. She’s never had the problems I’ve had, but she does like her food, and is very conscious about what she eats. She’s been led by me in some things, following me into the world of sourdough and farmers’ markets, organic produce and local meat. Her gardening aspirations have yet to get off the ground, and she’s content to live in her subdivision of small, old-fashioned 1950’s bungalows, rather than fleeing for the country, as I would have done, in her situation. We are decidedly not the same person. But I think she would come closest to understanding me.
My hesitation regarding JM is because, unlike with KS, my revelation would be an inconvenience. It would disrupt her life, a little bit, because her life is very full. With a husband and 4 children, she has about as much as she can handle. She loves the rest of us, and I don’t think she thinks of me as a drain on her resources, but she has other priorities, other demands on her time. She’s created boundaries to protect these. And she’s my little sister – I should be taking care of her, not being an extra burden.
Whoever I tell, there will be consequences. We’re not just talking about telling one of them I’m on a diet and asking her to smack me if she sees me eating something I shouldn’t – which I’m pretty sure all 3 of my sisters have done at some point in the past. This is revealing how completely, totally, and seriously messed up I really am. Something I’ve fought my hardest to conceal from them, until now. That secrecy has become a very strong instinct, a part of my identity. I don’t want it to be, anymore, but it’s going to be hard to change.
I don’t want anyone to see my faults. Especially my sisters. They see so much already that I wish they couldn’t.
I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to unload my emotional baggage on anyone else. I’m not asking them for help, but I still feel as though simply revealing this side of me is asking something of whoever I choose. I’ll be asking them to listen to a very unpleasant story, and then live with that knowledge.
I have 3 days left. I need to decide within that time. But at the moment, I don’t want to tell any of them. I don’t want any of our relationships to change. I want to stay safely inside myself and guard my secret with my life, as I have done. I want to fix myself before I tell anyone about the person I used to be. To present myself, healthy and strong, as evidence that BLE was what I needed, rather than face doubt and suspicion.
I don’t want to do this, but I know I have to. Why, I can’t really remember, at the moment. But I said I would, so I will. That decision, at least, has already been made. This one, I reserve the right to procrastinate until the last moment.
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