Eating Disorder Recovery Can Be Lonely (aka i need friends who don’t hate their bodies)
How many people do you know who genuinely and deeply love their bodies?
How many people do you know who don’t refer to certain foods as good, healthy, or clean? Who don’t criticize, shame, or passive aggressively make fun of themselves for eating desserts or having a cheat day or not being more disciplined about going to the gym?
How many people do you know who don’t have a life-long and constant wish that they could lose a few pounds?
How many people do you know who don’t believe obesity is one of the most serious health risks?
How many people do you know who wear exactly what they want even if they’re breaking all the rules of “how to dress for your body?” Even if their tummy is hanging out, their batwings are flapping, and their FUPA is CLEARLY visible?
Yeah. Me too.
And I really actively look for them! And thank god for Instagram, because that is where I see most of the people who fit all, or any, of the above descriptions. Thank god for my therapist. Thank god for my bestie. Thank god for my partner. They are all on board with all of that. And they make me feel like it’s ok to exist. They make the struggle that is eating disorder recovery soooooooooooo much easier.
And they are pretty much it. Those are the only people physically and intimately in my life who believe all those things—and walk the talk—thus making it safe for me to believe, practice, and live them. And I NEED that!
When people around me talk about how they don’t like their fat, that the way they fast *cough starve cough* is scientifically proven to be awesome, how bad/dangerous/undisciplined those cookies we’re both eating are, they co-sign my eating disorder. They give it potent fuel. It’s the equivalent of them telling me, an alcoholic, that I should drink. That I, a drug addict, can have a joint, it’s ok. That I, someone with a mood disorder, shouldn’t take my medication. The comments come to me in the middle of my sleepless nights, my panic attacks, my trigger shame spirals. In those moments they loom over me throwing stones and kicking dirt. They shout and ring in my ears and blast me with bright neon signs that I can’t unsee.
It’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible, and it tells me those people aren’t very safe for me, I can only trust them to a point.
Which makes being friends with them pretty hard! Safety, trust, respect, caring about my health and wellbeing, supporting my recovery. All important things! Things I need from friends.
So...I don’t have a lot of close friends. And then I anguish in all the comments and messages that I need more friends, I need more community, it must be me that’s isolating, not working hard enough to find similarities instead of differences, not putting myself out there enough. And I let it go over and over again when I meet a new eating disorder recovery person—which happens all the time because I’m a friggin magnet—and get excited that maybe we can be friends, and they look at me with fear or envy or pity and I know it’s not going to happen.
It’s like speed dating. Or dating in general, really. You try and try and try, you get a fleeting moment of excitement followed by disappointment and disillusionment and more lonely effort...and once in a great while you find something really special.
And those someone specials are my everything. They keep me going. They make everything in my life, and in me, better and bigger and bolder.