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March Madness: Five Generations

Joined: 2/10/2014
Posts: 5
This month I turned sixty. I have two adult daughters, three grandsons and two granddaughters. It is a milestone for me in many ways.

Ten years ago, at the age of fifty, and about to become a grandmother for the first time, I found myself, once again, in treatment for anorexia. I was fighting to remain alive, engaged in a thirty year battle with this complex and devastating disorder.

In researching the women of my family for an album I was working on for my daughters ( and now my granddaughters), I located 3 five-generation pictures of women-one with my oldest daughter as a baby, one with myself as a baby, and one with my mother as a baby. Baby, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great grandmother! What a marvelous find-a lineage of women dating from the 21st century to the 19th century.

As I sat in art therapy group at the eating disorder facility, I wondered whether my granddaughter would be able to sit with her baby for a five-generation picture. The possibility exists, I thought, at least for my mother to be there. I come from a lineage of cantankerous, early reproducing and long-living German women. But none of them had struggled with an eating disorder.

My latest descent into the depths of anorexia occurred that year with devastating speed. I, along with an increasing number of middle-aged women, caught in the darkness of the disorder, had to win the struggle quickly. The bodies of women with a long-term eating disorder cannot take the physical toll of decades of starvation. We need research into innovative treatments and recovery from this disorder at mid-life. We are exhausted from spending our days hungry for a sense of self to fill the empty shell left by our dark sister, anorexia.

While sitting on my bed at the treatment facility, I closed my eyes and an image appeared. Generations of women in one family were gathered in the living room. A man stood in the doorway, camera ready. The women smiled, sitting arm in arm, on the couch, and the camera flashed. In a split second, five generations of women, connected to each other by family bonds, hope and strength, were preserved for prosperity in the photograph.

In that brief moment, I thought about my about to be born granddaughter. I drew power and courage from that thought. I want to be in that picture.

It has been a long path to recovery and will continue to be.

Our granddaughters need us-they need our wisdom and our truth. They are out there waiting for us-with smiling, innocent faces, and loving, open arms. Let's be there to embrace them.
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