By Mollie Teeter
Kol Nidrei – A Jewish ceremony held at sundown the night before Yom Kipper, the highest of the high holidays, a ritual I have attended for as long as I can remember. Its translation means “all vows,” but this year the service took on a new meaning for me. My confessions, my vows, and my atonements took me over as I sat and attempted to eat my meal before the service.
My journaling ended up replacing my dinner, which I gave to a homeless man on my way to the Harvard Hillel services. I had fought hard to have my pre-fast dinner out; I had lost a pound that day, and rules dictated that I stay in for dinner, if not for the whole evening. I eventually kicked and screamed my way out of the situation; I’d be damned if my pre-fast meal were to be spent in a residential eating disorder unit.
So here I sit now, at 6:11 pm in the pews of a church borrowed by the Hillel, beginning my reflections. I left Cambridge Eating Disorders Center with every intention of eating dinner. I wanted no hypocrisy in the next 24 hours. But as I sat down to eat my salad from Au Bon Pain, my stomach suddenly knotted and I began shaking. Why, Mollie? Why are you putting yourself through so much pain? I very much wanted to be compliant, but that thing inside me that has been tormenting me for years, that voice doctors call Anorexia, took over the second food was in sight. Shaking, I was overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety. Even as I sit here now I am racked with remorse.
So the question I pose to you, God, who I am reflecting to, wherever or whoever or whatever you are or aren’t, is: who am I becoming? Who is this 20-year old girl? And what can I do when I feel so helpless?
Tonight and tomorrow, sunset to sundown, I will repent.
I apologize to my friends I have lost or ignored, and for any nasty and hateful, vulgar actions I have made.
I beg my family for forgiveness; each and every one of them feels my pain and suffering.
I ask my father, who although is quiet and passive, to forgive me because I know he has been torn apart by my absence, physically and mentally, this past summer and for the past four years I have been plagued by anorexia.
I apologize to my 9-year old brother Matthew; no one should ever have to see an older sibling drunk, passed out, over-dosed and hospitalized for an eating disorder, especially a child.
I ask Becca, my sister and my best friend, to forgive me for putting her through this awful experience again and again, especially now, since she has finally reached a good place in her own recovery from an eating disorder. I ask her for forgiveness for letting the disease come between us to the point where we couldn’t eat at the same dinner table because of my obsessions. I wish she could know how much I love her and appreciate her support of late.
And for my mother, I ask her to forgive me for all of the above, and much more. I ask her over the next 24 hours to forgive me for making her suffer, for making her feel as if she failed me, and for tormenting her with the dark voice inside me that takes the wheel. I am trying to diminish it, but it does come back strong, and recently it has exhausted the fighter inside of me. Mama, you are my rock, and I am so sorry I ever let you down.
But most of all, I ask myself for forgiveness for all of the pain I have caused my body, mind and soul, and for everything I have pushed myself to do, and even for my lapse tonight. I need to rid myself of the constant struggle to fight Ana (Anorexia’s lovely nickname, known across eating disorder centers all across the country), I need to fight off the urges to starve myself and exercise to the point of exhaustion, I need to stop putting myself on the very edge of my life where hope seems like a distant memory. I need to accept myself for all I that am, embrace it, and take life as it comes. So please, give me the strength I have never been able to grasp, the courage to not surrender and fade away.
And so, I end this reflection with a prayer:
“May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable to you, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Mollie Teeter is a former assistant features editor for The Student Voice. She has taken this semester off to continue treatment in her struggle against Anorexia Nervosa. This blog is her story, an inside view of what treatment has done for her, how she’s coped, an what she’s been through.