The Intimacy Anorexia Widow: she is your neighbor, friend or co-worker. The Intimacy Anorexia Widow is your child’s pediatrician, the police officer who told you that your tail light is out, or your yoga instructor. She is college educated or only has a high school diploma. She is a judge, but you don’t know she lives in a home where she is criticized and judged. She is your mother or grandmother and you can’t see her pain. Her shame, fear and anxiety are hidden beneath a veil of bravado or being a happy helper.
The Intimacy Anorexia Widow: she is affluent and travels abroad on business, but she is emotionally bankrupt. The man she loves has swindled her out of a life of emotional security and placed her so far in the red, she can’t even see a way out of the pain and darkness. A simple touch to her hand fills her with hope and is a crumb she must hold on to for days, weeks, months, or even years. She works at the local coffee shop and gets you your latte every Monday morning. She is the mom pushing her toddler in the stroller at the zoo, but you can’t see that she is walking aimlessly in pain, because she has been crying on the bathroom floor all night so as to not wake her family.
The Intimacy Anorexia Widow is your child’s school teacher, coach or the PTA chair person. She sits next to you in Church, Synod, or Mosque. She is always the first to get on the bus as she heads off to university in Lonelyville, U.S.A. She has stomach aches every day. She stares out the window of the bus, airplane or trolley. She is both numb and keenly aware of their patterns now. She still ponders, “When did he start slipping away?” She keeps an app on her phone or marks her appointment book tracking the last time they had sex. He slipped into the abyss, but when and why? She wonders, “What did I do this time?” He gaslights her; the blame and manipulations harden her. She questions, “Am I anorexic, too?”
The Intimacy Anorexia Widow does not share, not because she thinks you won’t care, but rather, because she thinks you won’t get it. She doesn’t want to answer why she stays, because she’s begged God to will her to leave. She got mad at God; she gave up on God. On the way to pick up her children from school, he yelled at her all the way there. She stumbles from the car having a panic attack. Gasping for air, she aimlessly walks home. A kind old woman startles her from behind and offers her help. She blurts out, “I’m having a panic attack.” The kind woman envelopes her in a warm motherly hug; she is wracked with sobs. She never sees the woman again. She ponders, “Was that God’s way to hold her in her pain?”
The Intimacy Anorexia Widow’s husband often holds her hand in public. He appears to attend to her every need, and like the gentleman he is, he always helps her take off her coat. At every function, he holds the new born baby for what seems like hours. You think she’s getting a break, but really, he’s using the baby to avoid her. If he is busy with the kids, he doesn’t have to touch her. You’re jealous because her husband is always tinkering with their old cars; they don’t have to pay a mechanic for repairs. You don’t know she raged at him the night before metaphorically drunk asking “WHY, WHY, WHY are you out in the garage, again?” He holds the wrench more than he holds her.
The Intimacy Anorexia Widow feels like he died some time ago, way back when. She’s been married for a couple of years now or a couple of decades, but she is always alone. She is isolated in her pain. Date nights are but a distant memory. The flowers are dead and the chocolates have turned to dust. Her therapist calls her co-dependent because he’s never heard the term “Intimacy Anorexia”. She no longer complains about the little things to her friends. She fears that if she opens up, all the built up pain, rage, fear and anxiety would erupt like a hot molten volcano.
The Intimacy Anorexia Widow makes a friend in the most unlikely places: on a vacation, alone. In a coffee shop, one cold winter morning, in a desolate out-of-season vacation town in the mountains. Nestled by a warm fire with a nice hot cup of tea, she quietly asks the woman next to her, “Can you pass me some sugar?” A friendship is born as she finds she is not alone. They help each other: taking those midnight calls and wiping away tears with the words “I get you, you don’t have to explain it to me.” They walk through each and every week together: a text, a call, a cup of tea and a hug that is so needed. A journey, new and unknown, is warmed by friendship, because she is no longer alone.