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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Zombie Has Issues, Part 2

My little sister emailed me today. We recently found out that she is anorexic, which of course has thrown the family into chaos. It has caused my mother to call me, repeatedly, in tears, asking me to look something up on the 'net (she's afraid of computers or something) or help her in some other way.

I don't mind, per se, because I want my sister to get well and am willing to do whatever to help make that happen...but still, this is disconcerting for me, since I am used to being the "bad one." My sister was always the "good one," or so it appeared from where I stood. I think if you ask my sister, she'd agree.

Anyway, due to being in foster care and various things I won't get into right now, my sister and I haven't spoken much since I was 14 and she was 9-ish. She's 19 now, so...that's ten years of not really having much to say to each other. Not because I dislike her or (I think) she dislikes me, but because we just don't really know each other.

When my mother called to tell me about her illness, I was unsure what to do. One part of me wanted to fly right out there and fix everything and another part of me said, "It's not your place." I ended up not going and instead just sending whatever information (articles, numbers for doctors, etc) I could dig up and offering my special brand of moral support ("Just shove some cake down her throat, Ma. Try using a funnel. Hey, it works for beer! Okay, okay, I know this is serious. SORRY!")

Now, my sister is not a stupid girl. She knows what will happen to her if she does not eat, but she can't seem to stop this. And if you think I'm should see this kid. She makes me look like a doormat.

She's taller than I am now, which makes her 5'10"/5'11"-ish (I'm shrinking due to hip problems and so forth) and she's down to 110 pounds. She's become a praying mantis.

This is all disturbing for me on many levels. Let's discuss another facet of Zombie's MechaIssue, which we'll call "The Incredible Shrinking Sister."

My sister was a dancer. She was a gymnast. She played volleyball, basketball, and ran track. She was always thin - which we figured was due to playing so many sports.

(I also played volleyball for many years, but was decidedly not graceful enough to dance or do the gymnastics thing.

I also don't run unless being chased by a homicidal maniac with a chainsaw, because my breasts are way too big for all of that. Okay, even if a homicidal maniac with a chainsaw was chasing me, I'd probably stop after a couple of yards and say, "Okay, you win. Have at it.")

We used to call my sister the "alien," the "freak," the "mailman's kid," and other such nice things, because she is the only thin female in our family. All of the rest of us are well-endowed in the chestal region and also have been provided with what are known in some parts as "breedin' hips."

Our mother has always struggled with her weight. She goes up on the scale, she goes back down on the scale, and she complains, loudly, about it. Both my sister and I grew up hearing that...but while my sister internalized it and turned it into a severe revulsion towards fat, I said, "Fuck it!" and had another donut. Or seven.

My mother calls me now and asks, "What did I do wrong? Why is she like this? How can I fix it? Did I do this to her?" and I tell her, "No, this is not your fault. I don't know exactly why she is like this, but it has to do with control. You cannot fix it for her. You did not do this to her."

But I wonder.

I wonder if the pressure of being the small one in the family of fat people, of being the "good daughter" that never caused any trouble and always made everyone happy, of being the right weight for the dancing and the gymnastics, of hearing her mother revile her own body on a daily basis for being overweight, of getting the good grades and the good boy and the good friends...I wonder if all that might not have something to do with it.

I wonder if my sister, growing up five steps behind me, got lost somewhere while she was trying to be everything that I wasn't - so my parents would be happy.

I wonder if getting lost made her feel out of control, and if that feeling reached out for the one thing it knew she could control - her eating. And control it she does - with a vengeance. Her willpower, under any other circumstances, would be awe-inspiring.

I wonder about myself, too, since I let that happen. I was content to be the bad one, because it meant I could get away with more. No one had any expectations for me whatsoever, unless you count the expectation that I would fail. I was content to let my sister be the good one, making up for all of my shortcomings in the Functioning Member of Society Department. In a weird, roundabout way, I feel like I have contributed to my sister's illness in a major way. I feel like if I had been better at being a member of the family, maybe she wouldn't be this way.

But then again, maybe she would. I don't know all of the reasoning or what's going on in her head. Everything I've said here is just conjecture at this point...but it's stuff I think about. Y'know, issues.

Guess we all have them.

I still want to make her eat cake, though.

link | posted by Zombie at 12:32 PM |


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