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What Haven’t We Tried? By Carol Pierson Holding

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

Text in white says What Haven't We Tried? by Carol Pierson Holding over top a dark photo of gray rocks

After you turned sixteen and your body came into its own and I said you looked voluptuous and your father said you were getting a bit broad in the beam; after you remade yourself at prep school into a size zero; after your friends staged an intervention; after we’d taken you to six specialists who concurred that you did not have anorexia; after we watched you star in that weird production where you, my tall lovely girl, played, convincingly, a deformed dwarf, and all your father’s relatives could say was that you were too thin; after you went to your college’s health services and were told you were morbidly thin and sent to the hospital; after the hospital refused to admit you because your organs were still functioning and sent you on to an in-patient eating disorder facility; after the in-patient eating disorder facility said you were too thin to be admitted and referred you to the out-patient eating disorder clinic; after the out-patient eating disorder clinic refused to admit you, who the fuck knows why; after you flew home and enrolled full time in the Center for Eating Disorders; after the Center for Eating Disorders flunked you because you wouldn’t admit that you hate your body; after your college refused to let you back in because you hadn’t held a job during your gap semester; after you graduated from college, a semester late, and started your graduate acting program, which did have a GP, therapist, nutritionist, endocrinologist and gynecologist to help us figure this out; after your graduate program kept you too busy to get to your GP, therapist, nutritionist, endocrinologist and gynecologist; after you begged your way into an eight-week residential program in Miami of all places; after the residential program told me how many times on average their patients return (seven) and I wanted to scream, I remembered my father telling me I was lucky to have Multiple Sclerosis because otherwise I’d be dead from self-abuse. There are no cures for us, he’d said, just vigilance. After I told you this story about my father, I was liberated—I could finally look at you and not think, What haven’t we tried?


Carol Pierson Holding draws inspiration from the forest next to her house on Camano Island, Washington. Her professional writing is primarily commentary about climate change and the unintended outcomes of capitalism. More recently, she’s focusing on imaginative fiction and personal essays.

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