ETA: I put this out here for awareness, mostly; because I know so many of you have daughters the same age as these girls -- the same age as MY girls -- if you haven't had a close-to-home experience like this yet, no doubt you will.
Life's been a little crazy around here.
Jenny* is a young person close to me who is in the thick of a situation and in need of advice. I mentally ran through my checklist of potential sources of help, support and advice while speaking with her the other day, and "putting it to the blog" came up right quick.
Here's the deal: Jenny's in college and shares a small apartment with Amber, a recent graduate. Jenny and Amber have known each other for a few years -- they have mutual acquaintances and have hung out together -- they're friendly, but they're not really friends. It's a pretty good situation as far as roommates go; there are no expectations beyond paying the rent and picking up after one's self. They're not close, they don't call or text each other all the time, they don't go out for lunch or go shopping, they don't pop corn and watch movies in their PJs, they don't share secrets.
They didn't share secrets.
During the first several months after renting the apartment, Amber hardly ever stayed there. She was always going home, traveling, staying with other relatives or friends, looking for a job. After finding a full-time job in her field, she began working long hours and she still didn't stay there much -- or was there at different times than Jenny.
Jenny began to notice strange things -- particularly in the kitchen, particularly regarding her food, particularly regarding missing food. At first, Jenny thought she was going a little crazy, but no... It wasn't so much that food was missing, it was that extreme lengths were being taken to make it look as though it wasn't -- to make it look as if it was never disturbed, as if nothing ever happened.
If it looks as though nothing happened, then nothing happened. Right?
One day, several weeks ago, Jenny and Amber were both home at the same time! There wasn't a confrontation, so much, but there was a conversation... and an admission... actually, a heartbreaking, tearful, first-time, outpouring of a confession by Amber to Jenny that, indeed, she had an eating disorder -- bulimia. Amber had never told anyone before -- and, really, she told more than Jenny wanted to know. Amber seemed relieved to finally have made a confidant.
Jenny, however, is not so thrilled. They're not much more than acquaintances who live together, remember? Jenny is anything but insensitive, but there's no way in hell she's ready to make Amber's problem her own; the responsibilities and expectations in a situation such as this is not made clear in the rental agreement.
Now that Jenny is in the loop, Amber apparently feels that she no longer needs to conceal her food rituals from Jenny so much -- and Amber is around the apartment more often. Jenny is made an unwilling witness to the binges; despite every effort to drown it out, she can hear the purging that follows; the apartment stinks.
Counseling, you say? Yeah. Amber's dad is a counselor -- an alcoholic high school counselor with an on-again off-again marriage and the baggage surrounding counseling and/or family in that poor girl's mind... has got to be a muddled mess and surely one of many countless contributing factors to her current state of mind.
I worked for a very short time with a woman so afflicted and, I'll tell you what, it is freakin' scary to be pulled into and made part of and witness to such a world, such an altered state of being.
The lease is up in August. Does Jenny just suck it up? Hold her breath? Work a lot? Tell someone? Who? Seek out counseling for herself? Any words of wisdom in blogdom for either of these young women?
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.