To the Friend Who Reacted Perfectly When I Opened Up About My Eating Disorder
Friendships often can be stressed when I tell people about my eating disorder, mostly because they don’t know how to act. However there have been rare occasions when I tell someone and their response has been nearly perfect. I wrote a letter to one such person to both express my gratitude for them, and to offer advice to those who may know someone with an eating disorder.
This letter is mostly to say thank you. When I told you about my eating disorder, it was by far the simplest and easiest time I have had telling someone yet. Remember at small group you said you thought one of your strengths was being a happy person? I think it is more than that. I think that you are a welcoming person. That encompasses a lot more than just being joyful. You give off a sense of comfort and acceptance, something hard to come by in this world. Something that is difficult for people to offer.
When we went to lunch, I had no plans on sharing that part of my story with you. I mean, we don’t really even know each other that well. Yet, we started talking with ease and had some pretty decent conversations. When we started talking about blogs and I shared that part of my story, I was immensely surprised at myself. I usually keep that part of me closer to my belt, and was afraid for what your reaction would be. The best part however was how you took it in stride.
Whenever I have told others, it’s always been followed by awkward silence, or a sense of unease. Some people have looked at me different and a rare few I don’t communicate with much anymore. I’ve had people crack jokes to lighten the mood, not realizing that the joke is slightly insulting, especially when I have taken the time to share something deeply personal. Others act like it’s not a huge deal. To me that is the worst, mostly because this eating disorder stems from a place of pretty intense pain from my past — something that hopefully, if we grow close enough, I’ll be able to share with you. But that’s another tale.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.
So how were you different, you may be asking? Well you accepted it for one, you acknowledged it and didn’t act surprised or confused. You asked me respectful questions, you didn’t push or prod too deep, but you also asked enough that made me realize that you cared to know. You expressed joy in knowing I was doing better; that is huge, especially when so many others hear and assume that I’m still suffering. Ultimately, when we have interacted since then, it has been exactly the same. You still crack jokes and treat me like me and that is the most I could ask for.
So, thank you Zach, for providing the best experience I have had telling someone. It is my hope that this friendship deepens and grows because your joy, acceptance, love for God and overall character shows that you care to be an intentional person, something few people possess the ability to do.
You rock bruh,
To those who have friends with eating disorders, this is my advice. Be there for them, encourage them, love them and ask questions when appropriate. But above all accept them — treat them as friends. That’s it, friends. Don’t add the labels. Trust me, we do that enough ourselves.
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