How I Met Your Father — He Saved My Life is a part of a series celebrating love and marriage by telling the stories of some of our Nashville Moms Blog contributors and how they met their partners. Enjoy more of these sweet stories here!
When I met my husband, I was 23 years old. It was winter, I was wearing my hair straight, and I weighed 104.6 lbs. I know I weighed 104.6lbs because that is what memories look like when you have an eating disorder—beautiful pictures with numbers scribbled over them, obscuring the brightest colors and reaping the joy from the faces in every image. By the time I met Buckley, I had been binging, purging, starving, and medicating for nine years—more than a third of my life. It was a sickness that had been with me so long that I couldn’t imagine a life beyond it. I didn’t want to. It was there when I graduated high school at 111lbs, the day I moved into my first apartment at 107.5 lbs, and the day I signed my first record deal at 114 lbs. I assumed it was going to be there when I died. I thought about my body constantly and destroyed it daily, ritually. The day I met my husband, the backs of my teeth were chipping off, and the skin around my eyes and mouth had turned gray. I hadn’t had my period in a year, and my pulse was so weak that I routinely watched my jugular vein straining in the mirror before I fell asleep at night and wondered when it would quit. I was dying. The day I met my husband was the day I wanted my life back.
It wasn’t a spectacular moment. In fact, the whole exchange was cordial at best. We met through friends at a bar. He acted completely aloof, and I said something embarrassing because he was handsome—and it was unnerving. For some cosmic, Nicholas Sparks-ian reason that I like to think I’m too cynical to entertain, he was important to me immediately. Even though we’d only had an eighth of a conversation. The timing was not good, but the timing was never good for somebody like me—I was a high functioning addict. Up until that point in my life, all of my relationships had been broken relationships. I was a liar. I disappeared often. I spent thousands of dollars on food. I manipulated easily and guiltlessly. Worst of all, I was hypocritical about those like me. I had never considered marriage or children. Anything that required that level of transparency was wholly unsettling to me. I went to bed the night that we met and decided not to watch my pulse and for the first time in years. Instead of wondering whether I would wake up, I wondered if I would see Buckley again. And I did see him. A lot.
We started dating, if you can call it that. We moved in together after about three weeks, got a dog, and after four months, we were engaged. The day we got engaged, I weighed 108 lbs. I had been working hard on my recovery—secretly and unsuccessfully. I needed help. I had needed help for years. I was terrified to tell Buckley. In a stunningly clichéd twist of irony, the devastating road on which I’d begun to tread all of those years ago in order to find the adoration of others was causing me to alienate the one person who had made me feel deeply and honestly loved. Regardless, I continued to keep it to myself for a while.
When I told Buckley about my eating disorder, we were walking down a busy street in Chicago. We had accidently taken the L-Train past the cool, gritty, peripheral area of town, to what was probably a suburb. I cried. A lot. I asked him if he still loved me, if he still wanted to marry me. I told him it was okay if he didn’t want to. But he did. Without the slightest hesitation. And then? He held me up for months as I began to piece myself back together.
The first time I drank a glass of orange juice without vomiting, I had a panic attack and went to the ER. I literally remember how it felt moving through my body, sticking to me, and causing my abdomen to tremble. I thought I was going into cardiac arrest. It was the first of many episodes of anxiety. Buckley never wavered. He sat with me as I learned to eat again, morsel by morsel, meal by meal, and eventually, day by day. He came home from work in the middle of a recording session when I relapsed and never left me alone unless he had to. There were withdrawals, and I was mean to him. I was so, so mean. Probably because it was hard, and definitely because I was humiliated by my healing process. I was mortified that I needed a hand to hold while I ate my eggs. I would pick him apart and yell at him. I would drink too much and let myself be angry. He would let me be angry too. For months, my body was horribly confused. I couldn’t sleep, and my blood sugar was a mess. Eventually though, it began to understand, and my mind started to untangle itself from its near life-long fixations: the numbers, the calories, the weight.
We got married November 22, 2009. I have no idea how much I weighed that day. I wore my hair curly, and I was nervous about falling in my shoes. For some people, entering into life-long, legal union might not seem like the most liberating thing in the world. But for me, it was the ultimate freedom. I was going to walk through life with the man I loved instead of a shadow. After two years of continued work, I got my period back, I got my teeth fixed, my skin was no longer ashen, and we were ready to start a family.
Pregnancy can be hard for anyone. For me, it was humbling on the best days. There were moments when the obsessiveness crept back in; Buckley told me I was beautiful when he noticed my furrowed brow in the mirror. I spent A LOT of time looking in the mirror. My stomach changed daily; and while it never ceased to amaze me, the lack of control I held over my own body positively shocked me. I spent nights tossing and turning and sweating, frightened that I had done too much damage, that my insides were ravaged, and that there would be something wrong with the baby. Buckley sat up with me, reassuring me, telling me a hundred times that our baby was okay. In 2012, Wilder came into the world screaming (he didn’t stop for about 15 months BTW), and in June 2015, Hudson and Everly followed. (Twins!!!) I love being a mom. I love the fact that my body—which once rejected nutrition—is currently manufacturing it for two human beings. (Again, with the irony!) Motherhood is the hardest, dirtiest, most thankless post this universe has to offer, and it has made me better than I ever imagined I could be.
The day I met my husband, he saved my life. There was never a shortage of things in the world that I knew were worth living for, but Buckley showed me the sheer force of having a love in my life that I would lay down and die for—any day of the week. And he gave me three children for which I would do the same. I didn’t know that somebody could love you so much that it would become impossible to hate yourself. He made me a mother, a wife, and—miraculously—a whole person again.
But when people ask? We still say we just met through friends at a bar.