Inspiration and motivation comes to us in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes those with the least life experience can teach and remind us what is really important in life. My dear Tink fluttered into my life when I needed her most. Unbeknownst to her, she has played a pivotal role in my recovery journey. She is unable to comprehend the impact she has had on me, but I hope one day she will come to understand just how much she means to me. She is only five, but I have known her since she was two years old. I dubbed her “Tink,” after her serious Tinkerbell obsession. Tink was always a constant reminder of why I wanted recovery…I wanted her to be able to look up to me and to lead her by example. I also more than anything wanted a ‘Tink’ of my own. On the really bad days, I would call her mom and ask if I could steal her for some “Tink Time.” I could not help but smile when she would look up at me with those big, beautiful eyes. We would always go to the park to swing and run and play. Her magnetic spirit would remind me of a time when my life was carefree. She would bring me back to that special place of unabandoned innocence, a place I think all adults need a good dose of on occasion. Tink always loved me unconditionally. She never saw the flaws in me that I saw when I looked in the mirror. All she ever saw was her “Call.” And being with her was the best therapy I could have ever asked for.
There is one day with my Tink I will never forget – Valentine’s Day, 2010. We were spending the whole day together and she wanted to make ‘Puck’cakes. The thought of baking something scared me to death, but I was not going to let my disorder tell my Tink “no,” so off to the store we went. She picked out the cupcake box mix and held on to it as if it were a shiny, new toy. She told everyone in the check out line that we were going to make ‘Puck’cakes. Her enthusiasm over a simple cupcake was contagious and even I began to get excited for our baking adventure. We came home and the baking games began. We sang songs as she helped me mix, bake and then ice the ‘Puck’cakes. For that one day it was as if my eating disorder vanished. I had no anxiety about baking or having these forbidden sugary goods in my home. I was simply baking with my beloved Tink. When we were all done, Tink carefully picked out which ‘Puck’cake she wanted to eat. After some serious thought, she chose the one loaded with rainbow sprinkles. She placed it on her plate then looked at me and said, “Aren’t you going to eat one too, Call?” My heart melted. I simply replied, “Of course I am.” I quickly grabbed a delicious cupcake and enjoyed every bite next to my sweet Tink.
This morning I was once again reminded of her significant impact on my life. Her mother is out-of-town and asked me to fill in at her school’s “Muffins with Mom” breakfast. (I often fill in for motherly duties. In fact, her mom and I joke that she is Mom1 and I am Mom2.) Since having a baby of my own, I don’t get as much one on one time with Tink so I was extra excited to have this special morning with her. As I entered the hot and humid school gym, I was hit with the realization that I would have to eat something I had never eaten: a giant, sugar loaded muffin. My eating disorder reared its ugly head when it saw the insanely large muffins. I have no idea where this giant muffin fear came from. To be perfectly honest, I did not know this fear existed until this morning, probably because these muffins were always on the “Do not ever touch” list. So there I was standing in a muffin-induced panicked daze, when I see my Tink entering the gym. I get a big bear hug that warms my heart in a way that only Tink can do. She cheerfully takes my hand and we go stand in the muffin line. As we approach the food table, I am busy talking and asking her about school and if she likes her teacher. I see that not only do I have challenge of choosing a massive muffin, but each muffin box has a nutritional label on it too (numbers, especially calories, are my utmost enemy). So there I am, holding on to my Tink’s hand for dear life. We study each box filled with chocolate chip, blueberry, banana nut and chocolate muffins. She goes straight to the chocolate muffin box and then looks at me with those sweet brown eyes and says, “Which one are you picking?” I smiled and told her, “Blueberry, they are my favorite.” Shakily, I picked up an enormous blueberry muffin, all the while trying not to glance at the black and white numbers on the nutrition label. I’ll be damned if I was going to let numbers ruin my morning with Tink. With our muffins in tow, we head to find a seat in the packed gymnasium. And just as it was nearly three years ago, my eating disorder vanished as we sat side by side and enjoyed our simple morning muffins.