Mother with eating disorder and addict-like behaviors?

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rebelsue

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Mother with eating disorder and addict-like behaviors?
« on: August 31, 2019, 11:45:05 AM »
I can't really find anything like my story anywhere and I really need to find other people like me. I'm going insane.

Did anyone grow up being neglected by your mother because she had an eating disorder? Her obsession with being thin and getting her exercise in was her number 1 priority. She was a lazy mother and did not teach me how to do things, prepare me for life, or protect me from the physical and emotional abuse of my dad. She was lazy when caring for our pets. She never wanted to be bothered with anything that wasn't exercise. I also grew up with very unhealthy ideas about food and physical appearance because of this, but that's even a side piece to the real problem. It was like she was a drug addict trying to get her next fix and neglecting her babies. I had colic as a baby, and my dad yelled a lot and was very angry, and I was the first baby and very stressed. I cried a lot. She left me to cry  myself to sleep multiple nights in my infancy and toddlerhood because "if I had stayed up with you I'd never gotten to bed on time to get my run in at 5am." Now I have crippling anxiety, fear of abandonment, insomnia, and a host of other issues. Coincidence? Nope.

I've read things about people with addict parents and I relate to much of it, but there are still some differences regarding eating disorders. She was an exercise evangelist. Every problem I had was invalidated and was told the solution was exercise, or at least it would definitely be a solution I needed to try ASAP. Despite being a varsity swimmer in high school, where I exercised constantly, I was still severely depressed and anxious as a teen. Then, I had a serious illness in my 20s and had to have a few surgeries to correct it and I gained a lot of weight afterwards because my metabolism had become messed up from the illness and instead of being supportive she gossiped about my weight to her friends. Those things are probably different from having drug addicted parents, so I am just looking for people who had eating disordered parents to talk to about some of the specific things about her behavior that really harmed me. I feel so discarded and worthless.

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Bach

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Re: Mother with eating disorder and addict-like behaviors?
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2019, 01:32:49 PM »
rebelsue, I both sympathise and empathise.  My mother is anorectic.  I didn't know that until I was in my 40s and reckoning with my own eating disorders, which until then I had thought of as totally normal and just what people who are "fat and need to lose weight" do, and she still insists that she was never thin enough to be anorectic and was only responsibly managing her weight so she wouldn't get diabetes.  She claimed that a doctor told her after I was born that she MUST stay under a certain weight or she would get diabetes (I don't believe that.  I think the doctor must have said something more along the lines that being above a certain weight would increase her risk, which is not the same thing at all, but my mother's selective hearing and abilities at creative interpretation to reinforce her worldview are a different matter).  Her eating disorder was not one of the more obviously problematic aspects of her parenting, but still, it's something that has greatly affected me. 

When I was a child, my mother did many sick things to me involving food.  She fed me so infrequently and incompletely when I was an infant that I nearly died of malnutrition.  When I got older, she would give or withhold food to reward or punish me, and would get me to eat things that she wanted but wouldn't allow herself.  She also greatly overfed me at mealtimes, giving me large portions and scolding me if I didn't eat it all.  The result of all this was that I was morbidly obese by the age of 13, as well as being obsessed with sweets to the point that I once bought a jar of honey with my own money and ate the whole thing (This earned me the wonderful experience of completely unnecessary and very traumatic testing for diabetes).  I lost some weight as a teen after being sent to live with my father where the food behaviours and portions were more reasonable.  Because of that, and gaining six inches in height, I was able to enter adulthood merely overweight rather than morbidly obese, but I have yo-yo'd all my life and am still trying to understand and unravel my unhealthy relationship with food and my destructive eating behaviours.  I've made significant progress with that, but it's still a daily struggle.  I am in my 50s now, and I think my body weight and shape are probably quite reasonable for my age and build, but I still don't like my body very much, and I don't know if I will ever be able to see it as acceptable.

As for my mother, one of the many reasons I went 99.5% non-contact with her was that every single time she saw me, she would make a big fuss about how much weight I'd lost and how thin I was and how great I looked, no matter what size I was or how I tried to tell her that comments about my body make me uncomfortable.  It was like her permanent mental picture of me was morbidly obese, and my adult size and shape were a perpetual surprise.  "I'm just trying to give you a COMPLIMENT, you look great!" she would say, and then call my stepfather into the room and say "Doesn't she look great?" so that he, too, could embarrass and discomfit me by talking about my body.


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rebelsue

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Re: Mother with eating disorder and addict-like behaviors?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2019, 04:54:09 PM »
@Bach Thanks for your response. My mom did a reasonably good job "hiding" the anorexia part from the world because she was a normal weight and even had thick thighs which of course probably fueled her exercise addiction because she probably thought that meant she was "fat." She used to starve and was super skinny in college, but then marrying my dad...he "made her eat" according to her. She got pregnant with me at 27 which was on the older side for those days, and she was still so immature. The exercise addiction was how she still maintained her eating disorder under the guise of healthy weight management. The 80s fitness craze made her behavior trendy and not abnormal, at least to the other gym rats.

But as body acceptance and healthy, balanced eating has become more common practice compared to the 80s. Now her exercise addiction is obvious to my friends and our family members. But nobody can say a thing to her. She'll snap back and say things like "I need my exercise to keep me calm. it's better than going on pills." or "Look how fat all these other ladies are, they never exercise, why would I want to be fat?" or "I am strong, I can lift things by myself, why would I stop taking care of myself? Look how young I am!"

My parents both pushed mental health drugs on me for years because they just wanted me to "stop being this way." You know what I mean. They hated me so much because of my emotionality, without realizing they were the ones who caused me to be this way by abusing me. My mom also simultaneously looked down on people who needed meds. She would leave little digs in my soul all the time about how exercise would fix everything for me if I would just do it. I would tell her she's the most anxious person my friends have ever seen, and she would say "No I'm not, I'm calm, I have my exercise."

The eating disordered mom articles i find online are all about moms who starved themselves to the point of hospitalization and the daughters seemed to actually really love their moms in the articles and not resent them, but more feel sorry for them. I don't feel sorry for my mom anymore. She's had tons of opportunities to change her behavior and has taken none of them. Now she's going to die alone with no daughter and no grandchildren because of what her behaviors did to me. It's on her now.

I really really relate also to the thing you said at the end about how she compliments your body. I feel like people don't realize that the compliments from someone like that hurt also because it keeps drawing attention back to the idea that "your body = your worth" and skinny = praise and fat = scolding. I wish she would just stop thinking about bodies. There was a time before NC where I knew I was going to see her -- I play in a band and we had a gig she was going to come to. I made my husband drive me to target to buy new clothes and shapewear because I hadn't lost enough weight yet to see her and I needed to hide my body better. I didn't want her trying to hide her discomfort with me being fat because I can tell when she's doing that. It's this grimace combined with looking me up and down when she thinks I don't notice, and giving me a really stiff * hug saying "You look good!" as if to just get that right out the gate when she first sees me to "prove" she doesn't "think I'm fat." All of that behavior means she totally does. I have never been able to get her to say the sentence,  "I will love you no matter what size you are." She dodges it.

I hate her so much....I am trying not to cry writing this. I'm back to exercising and eating well. My weight is coming off very very slowly. But I am trying not to think about it. I just want to get to a healthy BMI again post surgery. I don't want to weigh what I did in college. Not worth it. I just want to be strong and feel good in my skin. I want her voice out of my head.