on friendship and support during ed recovery: for the incredible girls who’ve seen me at my worst

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(PC: zee)

Friendship and social support are the cradles of not only your life, but also during your recovery from your eating disorder.

Having a close circle of friends who understand what you’re going through is essential. They are the ones whom you can rely on and turn to for help and a listening ear (or three) when you feel you’re about to burst from stresses, frustrations and funks at any second. They’re the ones who will motivate you and haul you back up on your feet. They’re the ones who direct you to the light at the end of your self-constructed tunnel. They’re the ones who understand you. They’re the ones who will stick by you throughout your journey.

I’ve known these two girls since I was 17. I was 17 when my disordered eating patterns started cropping up, but I kept my eating disorder a secretl until I was probably 19 or 20 when I finally told them what I was going through. They’ve seen me at the height of my eating disorder days. They were there supporting and comforting me while I sat alone in my room crying because I had just binged on an entire bag of cookies. They were there helping me see reason and explain very calmly why it was okay to get a B on a test and that it wasn’t the end of the world just because I didn’t get an A. They were the ones who helped take the focus away from my perceived flaws and instead, see my worth as a person. They were patient and listened to me while I sat on the bathroom floor contemplating drinking that bottle of bleach. I remember #1 homegirl’s words clearly til this day “Have you ever thought about the friends you will leave behind if you go ahead with what you are planning to do? About me and Zee?” The truth was, I never thought about it until she mentioned it and truth be told, I think that might have actually saved my life at that very moment. They didn’t judge me when I told them I wanted to be skinnier because I wanted to look like models and because I hated my body. They listened to me as I cried about disempowering events in my life that broke my soul over the giant cup of yogurt we were supposed to be sharing. They were so patient with me during my wild mood swings –  especially during our time abroad together on our overseas internship in Australia where I was beginning to deliberately starve myself and obsessively exercising – and still chose to stick by my side instead of completely dismissing me as a stuck-up and flighty kabootz who deserved nobody’s companionship.

I meet people who’ve come to me at different chapters in my life; at different chapters during my eating disorder recovery. Some, I meet in Chapter 5 just as I’m starting therapy where I’m still perfectionistic, hard-headed and afraid of change. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go out anywhere. Some, I meet in Chapter 7 just as I’m in the middle of therapy and in a state of confusion as I was trying to make changes, get frustrated at making mistakes and not seeing results. They couldn’t understand why I found it hard to accept my body and I was happy one minute but incredibly down the next without a discernible reason. Some I meet now in Chapter 11 just as I’m in my current transitioning phase where I am starting to shed old behaviors but still have remnants of old thinking patterns and behavioral tendencies: wanting to go out yet still over-plan and worry too much. They don’t understand why I worry too much, probably even think I’m boring and have no semblance of a life & wonder how I will ever be happy.

I have to explain to them that I’m recovering from an eating disorder and yes I am afraid of change and yes, I wanted to control every aspect of my life but I want to change now and yes, even though I am  getting better and want to go out more and live life, I’m still trying to do new things but you just happened to have entered a phase of my life where I am transitioning and learning how to shed my old skin and adapt to a new environment and so yes, change is still hard for me.

Of course after I tell them my story they understand, but sometimes you need to know they can never fully understand your situation as much as the friends who’ve been by your side since Chapter 1, or the early chapters of your eating disorder/recovery journey. These are the friends who understand the changes you are going through as you progress through each chapter. They are the one who support you through the struggles and difficulties through each chapter and they are the ones who will accept you and encourage you to move ahead. They are the ones who will understand your struggles and how said struggles have contributed to your personality. They are the ones who see your worth and build up your esteem. They are the ones who will give you their time and listen to you. They are the ones who understand why you are the way you are now and accept you for who you are unconditionally.

These are the ones who are worth more than gold and diamonds and the ones worth holding on to.

Who are the ones who’ve helped you and been by your side supporting you throughout your eating disorder recovery journey?

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To Miss Miller, Nette, Jess, J & Joe, Jia, and Big D, thank you for being there for me, for helping me and supporting me through my ups and downs.

But for these two incredibly amazing funny, zesty, passionate and feisty homegirls, Shu & Zee – this one for you two. Thank you for being my side these past 6 years. They’ve seen me struggle, succeed, fail, fall, get up, survive and change. Thank you you tolerating me, understanding me, helping me, supporting me, encouraging me, being patient with me, helping me, listening to me, comforting me, advising me & wanting the best for me. Am so incredibly grateful that the both of you here are in my life and please stay in my life for as long as you can please thanks because you guys are my rocks

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