My sister is only two years older than I, which has made us extremely close. We went to school together until college, each with our own distinct interests and hobbies, but overall, we have always gotten along and had fun together. We’ve had a lot of the same friends and enjoy spending time together. That said, we aren’t perfect. Towards the end of my sister’s years in high school, things started to change. Her attitude about herself and her body became negative, and it has transformed my attitude about my own body. It has changed our entire family dynamic, and it feels like it gets worse by the minute.
My sister is anorexic, whether she wants to believe it or not. No matter how many times she tells me “you look fine” and “you’re healthy” and “but you exercise so much,” I never feel as though I have adequately attained her expectations of a good body. This disease has not only taken over her life, but it has taken over mine. It has also consumed the minds of my parents, who, at their wits’ end, do not know how to help my sister any more than they are trying to already. My family used to be a cohesive family unit, eating dinner together every night. I never felt self conscious about my body or my eating habits, and we never tried to outdo each other with our daily work-outs. Now, eating and exercising have become the main topics of discussion in my family, and it is hard for us to live under one roof together sometimes, in the middle of accusing, arguing, and crying. Eating at the dinner table often becomes tense, and one wrong word can ruin the entire evening. At times, I feel as though my sister doesn’t love me or my parents anymore because she gets angry when we try to help. She says things that make me feel bad about myself even when she doesn’t mean to. I’ve sacrificed so much for her and don’t feel appreciated. It is so easy to be angry with her, and so hard to love her.
Still – we do love each other, and the accusing, arguing, and crying only comes from love. My parents and I want to help my sister and ourselves, and my sister does not like her condition and what it has done to our family any more than the rest of us. I know we can overcome these eating problems and get our family back to the way it was. I know my sister is trying to overcome her disorder, but I wish she would try harder. I wish she would listen to me and trust me, like before. I believe that if she can overcome her anorexia, I can overcome my eating problems, too, and the members of my family can stop alienating each other. I believe in my sister, even when it hurts me.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.