This is the first sentence of Finding Fullness. When I announced to my parents over the phone this week that I was done with the first draft, my dad asked, "When are you going to let us read it?" You can see, perhaps, why I might feel some ambivalence about handing the manuscript over for their perusal.
I've been terrified about how my mother is going to respond to the book for months. Well, years really. It's the main reason why the book has taken me six years to write. I love my mom dearly, and I'm horribly afraid that this book might alienate her forever.
So today I called my dad. Dad doesn't think of me as one of his extra arms the way my mom does, doesn't react to my flaws and failures as if they are his own. You could always tell who my mom was in the audience of our school plays. She was the one who was mouthing the words every time I opened my mouth, as if she could speak through me like a ventriloquist. As if she couldn't tell where I stopped and she began.
Today I told my dad for the first time how I tried to kill myself at fifteen by starving myself to death. I told him how much it meant to me that he and my mom consistently, unconditionally loved me-- and that I credit this deep wellspring of love for undermining my desire to annihilate myself. I told him that I was afraid that Mom would be hurt and angry with me for bringing all of this out in to the open. He said, "We're adults. Your mom will be hurt. We'll deal with it. Maybe she doesn't have to read it." Of course I'm thinking to myself... all she has to read is the first sentence!
I told Dad because he's Mom's best friend, and sometimes your best friend is the one who knows how to give you the bad news. How much of it you can take at once, and how to soften the blow. I told my dad because he can hear me when I say, "I love you guys so much, and I'm so grateful to have you as parents," in the same conversation with, "I was anorexic as a teenager and you guys never noticed." He understands how both of those things can be true at the same time. For my mom, one of them cancels the other one out and not in a good way.
I'm going to have to tell my mom what the book is really about at some point. So far I've couched it in vague terms; "It's about eating, food, yoga, body image, learning to love myself," I say. But she's going to read that first sentence someday. And I want my dad to be there to hold her hand and say, "Kimber loves you so much, honey. She didn't do this to hurt you. Or blame you."
I can love and tell the truth. I can do both. But it makes my heart ache.