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An Ode to the Friend Who Has Loved Every Version of Me


Sometimes a person comes into your life at a time when you – cliché alert – least expect it.

Life is cruising along just fine. You may be embarking upon a new chapter, there are minimal bumps and the future is bright and orange.

September, three years ago, this was me. Nineteen years of age. Lubricated with vodka cranberry, and enriched by my gap year, I was an eager, bright eyed and bushy haired fresher.

An exuberant party girl just wanting to fit in, fall in love, make friends and graduate. Come at me. 

I met an individual at this time, and we clicked. Just like Sonny & Cher, it was a case of “I Got You, Babe.” My first friend.

This one friend turned into more friends. Flat parties. Fun. Invincible! For the first time in my life I was surrounded by people and I was being independent. The only way is up, right?

Wrong.

Fast forward seven months or so and we meet the new me. The hollow, emaciated, despondent, frail me; with eyes as empty as the inside of a carved Halloween pumpkin. I was unhappy. Not just “had a bad day” unhappy. But I don’t want to live anymore, unhappy.

Anyway… this isn’t what this is about. This isn’t about my eating disorder. This is about celebrating the people in your life, and oiling the hinges of your friendships to ensure they never become rusty. It’s about finally tasting life’s lemonade after collecting the lemons for so long.

My first friend.

As much as I adore words, and can eloquently navigate my way through life like a game of Articulate, on this occasion, words fail me. The English language is not rich enough to accurately portray the importance of this person to me.

Since day one, my first friend has been there. They have seen, accepted and loved every version of me that has existed over the last handful of years. Happy me. Sad me. Angry me. “Fat” me. “Thin” me. “Really thin” me. “Regular” me.

I never believed that unconditional love existed outside that of my parents and sibling;
but this individual is Exhibit A.

This is an ode to this person.

Selfless, caring, truly beautiful inside and out.

This person never minimized my struggles, nor did they generically tell me that it would “all get better in time.” Instead, they told me that it hurt because it mattered. These things happen for a reason. They made me question my behavior yet, still allowed me to dampen their shoulder with my tears, regardless of my appearance, mood or weight.

My life, and this entire world, would be absolutely impoverished without this person. Not only would I certainly not be who I am today without their support and laughter, but I certainly wouldn’t have stuck at University. They are a friend for life.

I am thankful for every tributary that life has floated us along, smooth and murky, because without it all, I would never have formed this bond.

So this is what I think.

It never ceases to amaze me how much beauty and value can bloom from soil so barren, covered with weeds so gnarly. Look around you. You think you are alone? You are never
alone. Sometimes it takes for something horrible to happen to you to flush away all of the driftwood, or blow away all of the tumbleweed in your life. There are other people in the world like my first friend. Perhaps even, we can all endeavor to be more like them.

Irrespective of where you are in your journey of recovery, or even if you aren’t recovering
from anything, acknowledge yourself enough to allow yourself to trust, to love and to be loved. You are worth it. If you get hurt? Then you get hurt. If you dodge some pain today, then life will make more tomorrow, or next week, in it’s wee cyclical way. But nevertheless, get back up on your bike and cycle on. It feels impossible, but you might not have noticed… we have all been picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off since the day we were born.

Survive and thrive. Overcome and grow. Because, the alternative? Well, that just is not an option

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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