My dad really tries. He feels that he is partly to blame for my ED, and truth be told I can't argue with that. The first time I "recovered" I stopped throwing up, went on hypothyroid meds and Celexa, and began going to the gym. Like REALLY going to the gym. I quickly lost a lot of weight, and suddenly had defined muscles, a lot of energy, and a totally improved attitude. My dad was thrilled, and constantly commented on how "buff" I was. Meanwhile, my sister began to gain weight. She had always had a bigger frame, but, essentially, the smaller I got, the larger she did. At a suspiciously coincident rate, my relationship with my father improved while hers turned into constant antagonism.
Eventually,employees at the gym and my therapists began to talk to my parents about my apparent recovery. It baffles me that they needed experts to tell them that their 90lb daughter who lived on diet Dr. Pepper, salad, and cigarettes - who spent 2.5 hours at the gym 6 days a week - was not okay. But after several years pulling me out of bathrooms and dealing with my supposedly-suicidal tendancies, they thought I was finally back on track. Or they wanted to believe this so badly that they ignored all evidence to the contrary.
After that, my father learned to bite his tounge a little. My sister, mother, and I confronted him about his comments on our figures and he stopped pointing out how "gorgeous" every emaciated waitress or actress was. He really did get better.
But the first thing he said to me when I saw him last night was "You look good." I shivered. I ignored it, I changed the subject. But later, at dinner, he said it again. This time, I couldn't let it go. "Dad, I really wish you wouldn't say that."
My mother, eying the waiter who was circling with the pepper grinder, caught on to the dangerous volume in my tone of voice. It wouldn't be the first time I'd made a scene in a restaraunt. She started to shh me, and my father gave me a look to let me know that he was confused and offended.
I took a deep breath, and tried to say it calmly, "I know it doesn't make sense Dad, but I really don't want to hear that. I always wonder whether it means that I'm finally "fat" enough or finally "skinny" enough. I don't know what "good" means to you and I don't want to try and figure it out."
He mumbled something about not understanding, but basically agreed to try to stop.
Later when I went to the bathroom with my sister, I asked her if it had made her uncomfortable that I'd said that. "God no!" she said, "I feel the same way. He always tells me I look good after I've had the flu and haven't eaten for 4 days or something. I hate hearing him say it."
So, as awkward as it was, I'm glad I spoke up.
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