One night in August 1989, as Stephanie arrived home from a winery reception, Kelli and Shawna ran to tell her, "Holly's throwing up." She found her oldest daughter vomiting in the bathroom. "Mom, I have the flu," Holly said.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Holly," Stephanie said, handing her a towel. But the alert mother did not hear Holly get up and vomit during the night, the familiar pattern with the girls' flu. Two days later, Stephanie was putting on her makeup in her dressing room when Holly came in, looking very strange. A mother's intuition made her ask, "Holly, is anything wrong? Do you have something to tell me? Were you forcing yourself to throw up the other night?" Stephanie felt sick as she saw in Holly's distraught face that she had struck a chord. Holly was afraid to tell her mom or dad for fear that they would think less of her, but she blurted it out: "Yes, Mom. It wasn't flu. I . . . I think I have a problem with food. I think that maybe I need some help." She wanted therapy but didn't want her father to know. Don't tell him, she pleaded.
"Well, maybe it will go away," Stephanie suggested to her daughter, thinking perhaps it would disappear if they waited. But Holly hinged and purged again the next day.
Two or three days later Holly went to her mother again. "It's getting worse. It's not going away. I'm really going to need to get some help." This was not a family of pill poppers; it did not like depending on shrinks, doctors, or medication. Holly, Stephanie, and Betty all shared a certain stoicism about healing yourself and not complaining.