Texting, I don’t want to lose these. Supportive to a guilty no-good so-called supporter.
M 4 Nov “Hi Val, thanks so much for Thursday [dinner on Halloween], that was really nice. Gemma’s passing is a tragedy. My blessing is with you–may you have peace in time. I know that Gemma loved you all very much and truly appreciated your support. Gemma always said that she was the one in charge of her own healing–she took full responsibility for the process. She told me many times … the love that you all gave to her was something that she cherished.”
I told Megan about how I figure brain function was impaired by restricting. “Hi Val. Yes, anorexia is an extremely complex and widely misunderstood illness. I believe that Gemma tried as hard as she could to manage the patterns of the ED. And she knew that everyone else (including the three of you) was there to support her, too. Your efforts to support her were not wasted. It’s always easy to think about what could have done differently. Even though it is extremely hard, I hope that when you feel ready you can release any feelings of guilt or blame that you may feel. Gemma’s passing is no one’s fault.”
I told her, blessed with friends who knew her and understood as best as they could, the disease got her, the odds were there, no matter that her arguing or agreeing about treatment coloured the sense of potential success with beating it.
Because words disarmed me. I argued with the disorder and recoiled in annoyance. I was not the loving person I should have been. No I was not.
M 4 Nov “… I wanted so much for her to get better.. I tried to be there to listen when she wanted to talk about her struggles or to do activities to help take her mind off the voice onto other things. Sometimes when we tell people too many of our secrets it ends up that we create more distance as that person can come to represent and remind us of all the things we are struggling with.. A few years ago Gemma talked to me about how terrified she was about her illness and leaving you all behind if she could not get better, she worried so much about leaving Ian.. I wish so much that it had been different, that maybe if the accident [on bicycle got hit by a quick turning pickup truck] hadn’t happened things might not have gotten so much worse.. It was an internal battle and part the struggle was that Gemma kept things to herself and was constantly struggling against the part of herself that wanted to overcome the disorder and be saved and the one she referred to as the voice of the disease that always seemed to be there sabotaging things. (I am sorry to hear that you found things that she had been unable to talk about on the Instagram page) she struggled with a disorder that many women and men struggle with, it was always very painful to see the young girls who were struggling alongside Gemma at the hospital and to hear them talking about how it was about control in their lives when really it was a complete loss of control. …”
I thanked Jennifer for the motivational painting, featuring left hands to symbolize Gem’s shattered dominant left, and sayings, “Insanity is not doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results–insanity is doing the same thing over and over knowing fullwell what the results will be,” “When I stopped living in the problem and living in the answer the problem went away,” “One day at a time,” “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection ~ Gautama Buddha.” “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. ~ Lucille Ball.”
I told Jennifer I wanted to donate the painting to 4 North West eating disorders unit–crediting her as the artist.
“Gemma painted the picture all by herself.. (I did not paint it, she made it) Gemma was the artist not me, I just gave her the canvas and the paint.. She left it at my house because she couldn’t take it home as it was wet, I was supposed to drop it off for her in the summer and it just never happened.. We had been planning to get together to do pottery at the community centre too but didn’t get around to it in time..
I don’t think there was anything you could have done for her other than be supportive and try to give her the care she needed (sometimes there comes a point when the stress becomes too much for us and we are not able to fully be there emotionally because it is too painful we block things out to protect ourselves,
[which is perhaps the explanation, when I thought her option was to be hospital, asap, and she said she was on the list–but one time she suggested ours and another time she suggested I stay at hers. I callously suggested, “You can’t come home, the condo is for sale,” and to stay with her, “I don’t get it–you said no one stays at your place, you wouldn’t take the air mattress when I offered it because you didn’t want anyone to stay; now you are changing your mind.” My vote was hospital and I honestly thought that would happen].
You tried your best under difficult circumstances. Gemma knew that you loved her and she loved you.. You are a good mother, the reason Gemma was such a nice and caring person with a good sense of humour was because of her parents and family.. Gemma was torn inside, one part was desperate to get better and the part she called the voice was constantly there, she didn’t seem to be able to help herself, in many ways it was like an addiction where part of her kept telling herself that she could do it and continue even though it was not rational at the same time she was also aware that she could not keep doing it because she said she knew she would die, it was compulsive. The physical response to food with refeeding syndrome also created another layer reinforcing her desire not to eat because the body gets into a starvation cycle where eating causes a shock to the system and one gets seriously sick from vomiting to cardiac issues when food is reintroduced after so much deprivation, the body associates not eating as positive. It is a terrible disease, it seems to be something that is very difficult to treat as there are many layers to it from mental health, personal trauma to a biological response to changes in hormones growing up, something just seems to trigger it and I think it must be a little different for each person with it..”
Two “kids,” so kind, so thoughtful, possibly insightful as to how guilty I feel (not just regret). God, I regret. And God, I don’t deserve it, but they say that they get-it.