I know one of your biggest fears was that sister and I would take after mom’s side of the family – dangerously obese, lethargic, sick, depressed. You did your best to keep this from happening. You taught us to eat healthy foods, you signed us up for every sport, you took us on hiking trips. You were sure that the depression that ran through our mom’s family was caused directly by their obesity.
You taught us that fasting for once a week was healthy; it would clear our systems so we could be clean and new. Donuts and cookies were jokes in our household, something you called “fat pills”.
My favorite memory of your health lessons was when I was 12 years old. I spent the night at a friend’s house, and when you picked me up, I was holding a Pop-Tart. On the car ride, you mentioned that Pop-Tarts were another type of “fat pill”. I wasn’t allowed to stay at that friend’s house again.
I can now tell you a secret that I’m sure you are very aware- I snuck “fat pills”. Whenever I was away from you, I ate candy and cookies until I became sick. I think you knew I did this because you began making comments that I was getting bigger than sister, that soon I wouldn’t be able to take her hand-me-downs. Sister helped me. She gave me her old food journals, her exercise plans, and we made collages of thin models cut out from her old magazines.
But I still wasn’t as perfect as sister. She was naturally tall and thin. I was shorter, curvier. So I worked harder. I ate less. The first time I passed out during a volleyball game, you applauded me for pushing myself. When my coach became suspicious of my eating habits and would not allow me to play unless I ate an energy bar in front of her, you allowed me to quit.
Sister was diagnosed with anorexia after collapsing during a track meet. She was supposed to run in college, remember? She was going to get a scholarship. Sister is getting help. She wants me to get help, too. She says your lessons did this to us.