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To the Horse Who Gave Me a Reason to Fight My Eating Disorder


My main “therapist” during my eating disorder recovery probably did not look or talk like yours — unless your therapist weighs 1,200 pounds, has four hooves and neighs. My therapist was named Chester, and yes, he was a horse. Chester was not only my therapist, but my friend, my teammate and, as I often called him, “my bubba.” I had the pleasure of loving Chester for two years before he passed away, and there are a few things I want to especially thank him for.

 

1. Thank you for knowing.


Thank you for knowing when I was depressed. Thank you for knowing when I was excited. Thank you for knowing when I was weak. Thank you for knowing when I was ecstatic. Thank you for knowing when I was scared. And thank you for knowing when I needed to be loved the most. No other being on this earth ever understood me the way you did, and for that, I am grateful.

 

2. Thank you for protecting me.


You knew when I was sick. You knew when I was shaking from starvation and exhaustion and needed you to hold your neck up high for me to grab onto when I nearly fell. Thank you for wrapping your neck around my body in an embrace when I needed to be shielded from the world. You were the one thing that could silence my eating disorder for even a moment.

 

3. Thank you for giving me a reason to fight.


I had a million reasons to live, yet you were the one that convinced me. Thank you for always being excited to see me, for always being ready for a ride in the field, for always being there to listen and for always showing me just how strong I was when you were there. I knew I needed to be healthy enough to ride you, or to even be around you. You were gentle and loving, but you were still a horse, and I knew if I wanted to be safe around you I needed to fight.

 

4. Finally, thank you for giving me the strength to move on.


You taught me how to move on from my eating disorder. You taught me there were bigger and better things out there for me. But also, you taught me that I would be OK when you left me. When you passed, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, but you taught me it was OK to feel sad, it was OK to grieve and it was OK to be alone. You were my best friend and you saved my life, but it was time for me to learn how to save myself. I miss you every single day, but I know I couldn’t lean on you forever.

 

Now I have a new therapist named Romeo, and like you, he’s 1,200 pounds, has four hooves and neighs. I love him, but he could never replace you, and that’s OK.


My point is that you need to find your Chester. Find your therapist. Whether it’s a horse, a person, a dog or even yourself, it’s important that you find someone who knows you, that protects you, that tells you to fight and who gives you the strength to move on.

 

Thank you, Chester. I love you always.

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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Lead photo via contributor