I have a confession: for a long time I thought I was to blame for Kate’s eating disorder.
If you’ve read Kate’s story you’ll know the trouble all started back in winter 2013. It came out of nowhere (as far as I knew), but it’s no exaggeration to say it changed both of our lives—probably as much as anything else has.
In her retelling of the night Kate paints a far better picture of me than how I remember it. If you asked her now she’d tell you I did my best at the time. That I was just focused on making her feel better. But to me I’d let her down.
For more than a year I kept my feelings to myself. I didn’t want to jeopardise Kate’s recovery or make it about me. But every time I saw her go hungry, snap at her mum, or break down when the pressure got too much, I was transported back to the moment it all started.
I can still see the look on her face. I hope I never see it again. She was scared and confused. Her eyes, wide, pleaded with me to tell her not to change, that she was perfect just how she was. But I didn’t.
Instead, I agreed to a plan to reduce her portion sizes and increase the intensity of her workouts. I actually helped Kate form a strategy to stop eating the things she loved and spend more money and time on exercise, all in an effort to change her appearance.
I put it down to the distorted view of health I had at the time. I was wrapped up in my own appearance; trying in vain to put on weight, build muscle and look ‘better’. I saw food as a means to an end. Unfortunately for Kate, that end wouldn’t be the health and happiness she wanted, but severe weight loss, malnourishment and ultimately—tragically—an eating disorder.
It wasn’t until Kate’s recovery was well underway that I told her how I felt. One night, a few weeks before our wedding, I broke down. I apologised through tears for the terrible pain I’d caused her. I told her how sorry I was that I didn’t reassure her and tell her how beautiful she was (and always will be). Of course, she wouldn’t accept my apology. She rejected its whole premise. And now I can see why.
Kate and I are in this together, and we have been from the start. But for a long time we didn’t even know what we were dealing with. If I knew then what I know now my response that night would have been very different. I still regret it, but I realise how ignorant we were. Alone, we had no chance of resisting the siren call of media, celebrity and popular opinion.
Our first mistake was that we believed we could handle it ourselves. But without the knowledge we needed to win, we were destined to lose. There was so much to learn and we couldn’t do it alone. We needed help.
This post is part of an ongoing series in which Matt shares his experience caring for Kate. Stay tuned for more confessions of a clueless carer.