Friday, 26 October 2012

Living with Ruby!

Last week I asked my mother if she would write a post on what it's like to live with someone who has an eating disorder.
I thought it would be insightful to get a family members point of view.
She actually wrote in letter form.
She said it was painful to write and it was also painful for me to read.
So here it is, please feel free to leave comments as she would love to get some feedback.

Dear Ruby,
                  You've asked me to write about life with you.  Here goes - deep breaths!
Well it's not always easy.  Ruby you are my beautiful, precious youngest daughter and for most of your adult life you seem to be hell bent on self destruction, why?  I wish I knew.  Do you know? 

                   You were a lovely child, full of energy and joie de vivre.  Endlessly curious, friendly, out going, passionate about dancing and swimming.  Your friends loved you.  I remember your uncle saying that you had such a sweet mischievous face.  You were fun loving.  Life was good.  But - there's always a but!  You enjoyed taking risks.  I remember when you were about 6 or 7, we were walking beside a river with your grandad.  The river was fast flowing and deep.  When I looked behind for you, you had climbed onto  the wall alongside the river and were skipping along blissfully oblivious to the danger.  Or maybe you were courting the danger.  I don't know.

                  Your adult life has followed that pattern.  You grew from a lovely child into a beautiful young woman.  But you didn't like yourself.  You wanted to harm yourself.  Danger constantly called.  You were attracted to people living on the margins. Although you are a highly intelligent and moral person, danger seems to fascinate and entice you and all too often wins your heart.  You struggled with your addiction to heroin for many years.  Those years for me were a continual nightmare of heartbreak, anger and frustration.  Where was my precious girl?  Had you someplace safe to sleep?  Who were you with?  Were you alive or dead?  I dreaded phone calls.  I imagine hell to be similar to that time of torment.  But you had the courage to move away from that lifestyle.  You beat heroin.  I have endless admiration for your courage, strength and determination.

                 Your eating disorder makes me feel so sad.  I'm helpless.  I, your mother who should be able to protect you can do nothing in the face of this unrelenting disease.  I see you wasting away in front of me, living a non-life.  Your best years slipping and sliding away from you.  Bingeing and purging.  From kitchen to bathroom  Kitchen to bathroom.  Kitchen to bathroom.  Restricting when you imagine you are putting on weight.  Starving yourself.  Listless and limp.  Always cold.

                  And Mondays - I hate Mondays.  You go to the doctor, walk the dogs, come home, blog and take most of your meds.  You knock yourself out.  You waken intermittently, go to the kitchen, make tea, bring it in to the sitting room, light a cigarette and fall asleep where ever you land.  When I come home from collecting your nephew and leaving him at his house, I always look in the window first.  Are you safe?  Is it safe to come in.

                     I love you.  I'd give anything to make you well and healthy.  To see you well and healthy, brimming with confidence would be the best gift.  To see you living your life would be wonderful beyond words.  I know you have the strength to get well.  I know you have the courage.  You've beaten the most difficult addiction of all.  Please try to want to get well.  Please try to want to live.

                                                             Lots of love,
                                                                                  Mam x




  1. you are blessed with a mum like that, ruby!
    i hope you get well, you made it so far, pls get well ruby!
    and ruby's mum: bless you, too, you rock!


  2. You are so right Loulou, I am blessed and yes she totally rocks!! x

  3. Trying to wrap my head around this letter makes me want to cry. I wish I could take Kid Ruby downhill mountain biking or skydiving or jumping off sand dunes, you sound like you could have easily been converted to the NZ passtime of extreme sports is given half a chance! It's a little less hard to hate yourself when you know you have the balls to get thrown out of a plane at 10,000 feet.

    You can tell that you're both hurting so much. I wish I could hug you both. No words, only hugs. I hope that you can want to want to live, coz I'm also wanting you around having fun doing what you enjoy and gleefully kicking ass for many years to come.

    As you could imagine the concept of a loving mother is pretty alien to me - something that happens in books or on TV. I assumed all my mates' Mums were putting on an act like mine did when they were nice to their kids or to me. It took my first host family to convince me that maybe not all families were like mine.

    Have you ever seen the movie White Oleander? You can find it on Youtube. The line from the last bit helped me distance myself from her behaviour a bit. "No matter how much she's damaged me, no matter how flawed, I know my mother loves me" She loves me in her way, which may not be the best way, but I know that in her way she does.

    The people who supported me the most were my grandparents, which is why it hurts so much to see them fading and dying. All my protectors are leaving me behind. I'm trying to remember them as they were when they were alive and vital and healthy, and not as they fade slowly in rest homes because they can't take care of themselves any more.

    To receive that kind of care and love and support from your Mum is an incredible gift. I hope you two can fight through. I know you can beat this, you're tough as nails. Carbon-fibre nails. You'd break the hammer if anything tried to hammer you. Like diamonds the thing that damages us the most is ourselves.

    Don't give up, ok? Always here for you on the little islands in the Roaring Fourties. Arohanui and hugs <3

    1. It's so true Peri, it is an incredible gift.
      I'm sorry you don't have that with your own mother, I don't know what I would do without mine.

      I have considered extreme sports, a healthy way to get a buzz or rush, maybe I will take up bungee jumping.

      I'm going to check out that film for sure.

      All my love and hugs from the Emerald Isle x

  4. Your mother sounds amazing. It is so difficult when you hear the pain you are inflicting on other people. I understand how hard that must have been to read. But you are so strong for posting this. Thank you love <3

    1. Thank you Beth, it was difficult to both write and read, we both had a little cry but it helped me gain insight in to what she goes through so well worth doing x

  5. What a lovely letter - made me cry, Miss Ruby. Your mom loves you so much.

    ((((big hugs)))

    1. I know, it made me cry too

      Hugs to you too x

  6. Stepping out from lurker-ville to comment. I hope you don't mind the intrusion.

    I am a mother and my heart breaks for you. I've often read your posts and wanted to scoop you up in my arms and hold on tight. For you could easily be my child. Reading your mother's letter makes my heart break for her as well. You are both wonderful, strong, and compassionate women. I pray that life gets easier for both of you, one way or another.

    Hugs from the Philly area.

    1. No I don't mind at all, welcome!!

      Thank you for your kind words, we try to support each other

      Hugs right back to you x

  7. Wow, this is incredible! This hit home for me because my parents and I don't talk about how they feel about my ED. Having this perspective is reminding me why family is so important and that it'll always be there.
    Best wishes to both you and your mother, and thank you to her for having the strength to write such an honest letter!

  8. Thanks Emily

    I hope you and your parents can find a way to talk about your eating disorder. I think it's the secrecy that gives our illness fuel.

    Take care x

  9. This is heartbreaking to read, I never really think about how my choices will affect others, that's why I don't want my mum to find out, I'm scared she'll either blame herself, or not care. And I don't know which would be worse.
    It's lovely how much your mum cares about you, I wish I had a better connection with my parents, I've just pushed my mum away since this, and it's sad.

    I really hope you're okay and that your mum's okay.
    Take care sweetheart.
    Love you.

  10. Oh sweetie I hope you can find a way to tell your mother, I'm sure she would be understanding, it's our secrets that keep us sick.
    You are stronger than you know.

    I am ok or at least I will be

    Take care of you too

    Love ya x

  11. Ruby, This made me cry.. it is so heart wrenching to see things from her point of view, she is such a wonderful mother - so caring, understanding and clearly would do anything for you.

    Also it is clear how we think they dont see but they see it all, we think we are the masters of deception but those close to us can see what we do to ourselves. She is remarkably perceptive and at the end "please try to want to get well, Please try to live." Wow. honestly I feel so overwhelmed by this statement that I can only imagine what you went through reading her words. She writes so well, I can see where you get your writing talents from!

    Your mother seems to be one of those selfless souls so brimming full of care and love, I am so glad that you have her in your life <3

    Love you so much x

  12. It's so true Rayya, those that know us the best can see through the thin veil of the act we put on.

    Thank you for such warm and kind words,

    Love you too x

  13. my mother 4 years ago would be urs too now shes just totally given up theres only so much they can take
    youve got someone really special hold on to her
    much love

    1. I'm so sad to read that but yes I do have someone special

      Love to you x

  14. That touched me. I don't really know how to feel about this. You've heard this a million times, but both of you seem to be such special people. However this plays out, I hope that you never lose that connection with your mother.

  15. That touched me. I don't really know how to feel about this. You've heard this a million times, but both of you seem to be such special people. However this plays out, I hope that you never lose that connection with your mother.

  16. Your mom sounds really sweet and I know it's hard for you too. It's usually hard for everyone who knows a person with ED. Take care and stay strong <3

  17. Thanks sweetie

    Take care of you too x

  18. Seeing as you and your mother are so close has anyone ever brought up the Maudsley Approach of therapy? I read about it in a book a few months ago and I could see how it would be helpful to some. It might be something you and Mary could discuss and see if you thought it would be helpful for you.


Thank you for leaving some love x