As I write this, I’m being that person. You know, that one who goes and sits at coffee shops without ever buying anything. The person that everyone hates, and understandably so. Believe me, if this place were even remotely busy, I would go somewhere else as to not block a spot for a potential customer.
What is it with me and eavesdropping? I have an affinity for slipping into the shoes of others, raw and real. I mean, if you talk loud, don’t be mad when I overhear.
ANYWAY, past my attempt at validating my sins. There are these two women sitting in the corner (in the comfy chairs – where I like to sit. Maybe that’s why I paid so much interest in their conversation (this time, however, without my interference. Unlike the time in Taco Bell).
“She’s too young to know!” The lady in the blush pink erupted tearfully.
What I could hear of the conversation (over sliding chairs, too loud acoustic guitar, and the opening of a door) was essentially that her daughter had an eating disorder. The phrase she’s too young appeared many times.
She’s too young for her hair to fall out.
She’s too young to have to take a break from school.
She’s too young to spend months at a hospital.
The conversation that I overheard broke my heart. Here was this mother who so desperately wanted to understand the twisted mind of her daughter. I’m sure the daughter just wanted to be understood.
The one thing that bothered me was the assumptions that this lady was making. She’s too young. Why can’t she just eat? She’s already so thin, can she stop dieting?!
Rationalization. Any type of tragedy or illness or any disruption into the comfort bubble of our everyday lives, we attempt one thing – to rationalize. To understand. However, this was an attempt to understand her sick daughter through the lens of a healthy person. The mother was failing to understand that the child had little control over this so-called “diet” (PSA: Eating Disorders are not even remotely the same thing as a diet. To call an ED a diet because they both involve food behavior modification would be like calling a kite a boat because they both involve not being on land.)
She also failed to rationalize because of her assumed implications of the girls age. She’s young? Okay. Cool. Doesn’t change the fact that she’s sick. Doesn’t change the fact that she needs you more than ever.
The assumption that because someone is young troubles me. Children commit suicide. Children have eating disorders. Children can have schizophrenia. Children can be sad, just as sad as an adult. They may just not always comprehend the world in the same way as an adult, but from their perspective, things can be messed up.
I was tempted to say something to the women, but before I could, they left. One confused with the struggles of her friend. One heartbroken with the illness of her child. And I was left with a broken heart for a misunderstood girl that I’ve never even met.