high school friends reunite--from left: Melissa and her fiancee Steven, Angie and her boyfriend Brian, and A and meLast weekend Anthony and I went to my hometown to (gulp) stay with mom and dad overnight. The real purpose of this was to go to my 10 year high school reunion. Which was odd, fun, weird, and great all rolled up into one.
Now, my parents aren't the most warm fuzzy people on the planet. Quite the opposite actually. So, bless Anthony, he was a real trooper through the uncomfortable silences and backhanded insults delivered at the hand of dad.
Sunday afternoon we escaped.
I've spoken some about my eating disorder history, but I don't think I've ever mentioned here that my school nurse in high school was much more than your average school nurse. She literally became my therapist, doctor, nutritionist...and friend.
My first real interaction with Dotty was when she called me into her office as a high school freshman and said "I noticed by your weight chart that you've lost xx pounds since this time last year."
I was in denial. I was sullen. I informed her there was nothing wrong. She informed me that there was, and that she would be weighing me weekly from then on out.
I was pissed.
HATED it. Didn't much care for her either. I was not very nice for the 3 months or so this went on. And then on one of my visits she said words I did NOT want to hear...but desperately needed:
"If you lose even one pound between now and next week I'm calling your parents."
I lost 3.
She called them. Long story short, nothing happened. They were also in denial, not wanting to think that their "perfect" daughter would ever have something so foul as an eating disorder. My father at one point over the next 24 hours said to me "you should probably eat more."
That was it.
And a huge part of me was relieved, but my spirit was crushed. To this day I don't feel like I can trust my parents, and to this day they do not know how deep my struggle was in high school and how it resurfaced and I ended up much worse off than I was *during* high school.
I continued losing weight until I was at a truly alarming and dangerous point. And something within me became terrified. I didn't know how to fix it, but I knew I had to. Slowly but surely I read articles on nutrition and tried to introduce more calories into my diet. And I prayed. A lot. By the time I entered my sophomore year I was at least up to triple digits again.
I still remember dropping a note by Dotty's office on my way in to school one spring morning asking if I could come to talk to her. Nearly a year after the awful scene when she told me "I won't weigh you anymore but I'm calling home today" I was called to her office, this time at my initiation. She closed the door and just looked at me, and it all came spilling out. That I was so sorry I'd been awful to her last year, that I really had been sick, that I had gotten scared and with God's help I was trying to beat it. I'll never forget the look on her face when she asked me how it had gone after she had called and spoken to dad and I told her nothing had happened. Before I left her office that day she wrapped her arms around me and for one of the first times I felt like I had an ally in all of this.
She retired that year. We kept in touch somewhat, but it was hard. My parents did NOT like our newfound relationship, and they certainly didn't understand *why* I wanted to talk to her...and I know they were threatened. She came to my graduation party when I left high school (at a healthy weight!) and we kept in touch all throughout college. And I still call her every month or two, write letters, etc. She was one of the only people I told when everything resurfaced. I was cleaning out my office right before Anthony and I left for Indiana and saw a card she had written to me right after she found out I was struggling again. And I immediately picked up the phone and called her...and asked if I could bring Anthony by to meet her while we were in town. She said absolutely.
So Sunday afternoon I took Anthony to my first house growing up (which is just a shell since it burned down a few years after we had moved), my grandmother's old house (which has been trashed by the new occupants :() and to the cemetary to visit Grandma too. And then we made a drive down a country road to see Dotty and Luther at their farm.
We literally sat with them for an hour and a half just talking and enjoying their company. They did all the things that "parents" should do when meeting the boyfriend--they were interested in A, asked him questions and were genuine in their response. Being with them for the two hours we spent at their place was SO therapeutic and healing for me. It had been years since I had actually been able to visit with Dotty, so this was an amazing gift...and to be able to share Anthony was just gravy :)
That's right...I said 2 hours. Because once we stepped outside to get back into the car we found out that 2 of their cats had kittens. And we played and enjoyed them for another 30 minutes. I fell in love with this one (and she followed me around until I picked her up and cuddled her) and am still toying with the idea of going back and getting her. Dotty said she would have sent her with me right then, but she was way too tiny for that.
After I finally put the kitten down, Dotty wrapped her arms around me, and as I do every time she hugs me, I felt secure and loved. Her whispered "I love you" didn't even need to be spoken for me to know it in my heart, and I'm sure that my echoed response was unnecessary as well.
I called Dotty yesterday just to thank her for letting us crash their Sunday afternoon. Her response was "We loved it! We're still talking about it." And then she went on about how much they adored Anthony and what a good man he is...and how they are looking forward to our next visit.
And honestly? So am I.