Prelude to Meg’s Anorexia
As Meg’s mother, I’d like to tell my version of her story not only for the people who might be helped by reading it but also for myself. By putting my thoughts down on paper, I hope they’ll be released from the revolving door in my mind where they seem forever trapped and spinning endlessly around, especially at night when I’m trying to sleep. After all, I’ve had plenty of time to think about this: Meg was anorexic for seventeen years before she died a year and a half ago. But I feel that I have to begin with the back story in order to get at the truth.
The progression of Meg’s disease differs from other stories of anorexics that I’ve read or heard about. She wasn’t the tween trying to be the perfect little girl. That was never Meg’s place in our family. And place is important. Meg was the younger of our two children; they were the same sex and almost five years apart, the Viet Nam War came between their births. Everyone today knows that when you have only two children and they’re the same sex that one, often the first, is the achiever and the second tries to be as different as possible to capture their share of parental attention even if it’s negative attention. In the 70’s, I had to go to a child development class to find this out. Meg older sister, lets call her Kae, had the achiever place sewed up. The second place went to our Meg. Poor kid.
We always said that Meg was given to our family to teach us how to kick back and have fun. As a baby she was always beaming at everyone; she even slept through the night when we brought her home form the hospital. Meg officially became the family clown as soon as she was able to toddle around. One morning I left the laundry on my bed intending to put it away later. Well, Meg got into it and donned my underwear over her yellow Doctor Dentin’s and started jumping up and down on the bed calling, Mama, Mama. Her sister and I came running in. What a site. Kae said, “Quick, get the camera.” This is just one example of her personality; she was always trying to make people laugh.
And we really needed Meg’s laid back personality in our family. Her father, a former weapons systems officer in the F4 fighter and marathon runner, is a human dynamo who still has difficulty relaxing. Certainly, I was determined to be the best stay-at-home mom, wife, housekeeper, and cook. Never experiencing a warm welcoming home life, it was my mission to create one for my family. Also guilty of over exercising, I jogged, lifted light weights and did aerobics. I also dieted. So Meg’s parents while trying to be healthy and fit were actually modeling damaging behavior.
Now Meg’s sister was a great student, gymnast, swimmer, cheerleader….Meg did most of these thing as well as acting with a lot of prodding from Mom but never with the same passion as her sister. After swim practice or whenever she could, she rode her bike to the convenience store down the street to buy her favorite snack, nachos smothered with cheese and a Dr Pepper. Now it’s tough on a child’s confidence being the younger sister of such a self-motivated achiever who even ate her vegetables. But it wasn’t her only difficulty. Certainly, our military life didn’t help.
Because we were a military family, Meg was born in Germany in 1972, moved to Las Vegas when she was two, to the Philippines when she was five, to Florida when she was six and a half, and to Virginia when she was nine and a half. I always tried to be positive about the moves. Maybe too positive. Meg once, looking at me with disgust, said, “You just love everything about life don’t you Mommy.” She had a much harder time than Kae adjusting to new places and making friends. But even Kae was not immune to all this dislocation. Much later as an adult, Kae said, “You always made the moves so much fun I never had an opportunity to deal with my feelings of loss.” But I always thought you should make the best out of the situation you find yourself in. Pollyanna, that was me. Not anymore. Meg’s death has knocked that out of me, I fear for good.
Now does Meg sound like a future anorexic? I would never have believed it.