If they ever develop a way to clone humans, I’ll be recommending my brother. I’m not sure I would have got through my first binge-free night without him, and I’m certain I wouldn’t have made it through my first binge-free month.
Whilst he probably doesn’t want to repeat the experience and I don’t think he’s available on loan, I’ve been trying to identify what really made the difference – because, whether he admits it or not, he helped me turn my life around.
So, in the absence of cloning and a sibling loan provision, I’ve tried to break-down my brother and pinpoint the things that helped; because, there might be some other guardian angels flying around out there, or you might have wings yourself….
My brother has the remarkable ability of not judging people. You can tell him anything, and he doesn’t flinch, or make you want to hide, or tell you what to do. In the light of these qualities, bulimia loses a little ground: the secrecy (but you can’t tell them that) that it likes to use to divide you from the rest of the world is redundant.
This meant that I was pretty open with my brother. We didn’t go into details, but he knew what was going on. Trust is a big thing when you’re trying to change your life. If you’re asking someone to help you, they’ve got to know what they’re getting involved in -
Like fighting demons on the first binge-free night.
For a long time, the terror of going to sleep without making sure that my stomach was totally empty was too much to contemplate. However hard I tried to convince myself that it would be okay, and nothing bad would happen overnight, and I could go back to the same routine in the morning, if I changed my mind; the leap into the unknown felt far too daunting and the fear would step in, just as I was about to dive –
My brother stood on the other side and stretched out a hand.
On the first binge-free night, he gave me his sofa and the reassurance that, come what may, he’d be there.
So, when I called to cancel because I’d spent the afternoon throwing up (in anticipation) and I screamed that I couldn’t do it (because it was just too hard), he calmed me down and told me to get on a train.
And, when I arrived, with puffy eyes and a bag full of terror, he made me a supper that I thought I could manage (because you’ve got to try to eat if you’re trying not to binge; and, to keep my busy (because distractions are important at first), he chose me a funny DVD to pass the time.
He listened, when I talked; was strong, when I was scared; and, he believed that I could do it – even though I wasn’t so sure.
His conviction carried me through; and, whether he knew it or not, his care made me brave.
The first night was a tentative toe in the water. It didn’t lead to the first month; but, it provided the first piece of evidence. It showed me that I would wake up the next day – and be okay. It gave me a glimpse of a reality that I could use as a basis for the new life I was going to build –
Which started with the first binge-free month.
During the first binge-free month, my brother was my guardian angel.
For the first few days, when it all felt surreal and nobody else knew what was really going on, he was my anchor. When I started to get cold feet or lost sight of why I was fighting, he brought me back to earth with a few reminders of what I’d be able to do at the other side. When the fear shot through me and the rest of the world seemed far too distant to reach, he stretched out with a smile. When I wasn’t sure that I was doing the right thing, he reminded me that I was.
We didn’t dwell on the subject; he just acknowledged what was going on.
And then, once the initial exhilaration had worn off and I started to realise that this was for good, he called me every evening, to acknowledge my achievement and to check that I was okay. When I didn’t think I could keep it going, he was confident that I would succeed; and, when I was tempted to take the easier path, he was prepared to remind me of what he had invested –
Because it takes a lot, this guardian angel role, and you’ve got to recognise the effort –
So last night, as we sat in a cocktail bar, trying my first mojito (because he’s good at challenging my fears), and I realised how far we’d come, I decided that it’s important to recognise the investment; because, even though my brother claims that I own the recovery, and seems to think that the success is all down to me, I know that I wouldn’t have made my first binge-free night without him –
– and I’m not sure that I’d be here today.