I wasn’t sure of myself I high school. She was thriving in all aspects of her life; she had the perfect family, great friends, she blossomed in school. She knew me, but I was quiet back then. I’d ask her to hang out every so often when we first met in elementary school, sometimes offer my opinion on her outfit or suggest we eat lunch together, but she wasn’t interested. I wasn’t good enough for her, and she didn’t need me…yet.
Our relationship strengthened at an inconceivable rate. Freshman and sophomore year we were inseparable. She took advice from me; I was the first person she went to when she needed help. So, like a best friend should, I helped her see what was ‘good’ and ‘bad’, planned activities for us on the weekends, and picked where and what we could eat. When she didn’t do well on an exam, ditched our plans, or didn’t eat with me, she’d feel so overwhelmingly upset that we’d talk all night. At some points I became worried because she was making new friends. She wanted to introduce me to them, but I told her I didn’t want to be friends with them, only her. She didn’t want to break my trust so she compliantly listened and kept me a secret. We fought often, but she knew she needed me.
During out summer breaks she became distant. She had her family, her friends, and her work. She would ask me to join her sometimes, but she didn’t need me as much. I hated summer, but I wasn’t worried because I knew it would come to an end, and we would be united, far away from home, in no time.
Now it’s junior year and everything is changing. She decided she would take on more hours at work, spend more time with her other friends, become more involved in her major, and volunteer in a first-grade classroom. She loves her first-grade classroom, but I only know that because I hear her telling her other friends about it. She has less time for me, so I have to figure out how to stay in her life. I need her and she needs me, but she only wants me around when she feels alone and not good enough. So that’s the answer. I will keep telling her all of the things she is doing wrong and then she will always need me. We can be best friends forever.
We have spent every day together for the past few years, but as her trust in her new friends grows we’ve spent less time together and more time fighting. She talks about me with her new friends, and they tell her that she doesn’t need me, that she doesn’t deserve the way I make her feel. I can feel her trust in me breaking, she doesn’t think I really know what’s best for her anymore. She is realizing that she is more than me. She is more than her eating disorder.
My eating disorder is right for once; I am beginning to realize that I am more than it. I have tried to keep all of this “advice” I was getting from it a secret, because it convinced me that there was nothing wrong and that I needed it. This secret has taken me to my darkest place, a place I never thought I would get out of. I have made every decision in college with the help of this “advice,” because I was so consumed and did not know it was the disorder talking.
With the support of my family and friends, they have helped me to realize that I have an eating disorder and that I am not defined by the eating disorder. Although reaching out to my friends and family was daunting and so incredibly difficult, they have guided me to the professionals who can help me. My friends and family have been there to listen and comfort me during my worst times and support and celebrate the steps I am taking toward recovery.
The most important thing I have learned has been to be honest with everyone and most importantly myself. I have feared what people would think if they knew I was struggling, but if they think any less of me then they don’t deserve me. Recently, I have had glimpses into life without the disorder and even though those moments are brief and scarce, it reminds me what I am fighting for.