Three years, and yet it seems like a lifetime ago. Three years, and yet it seems like I don’t even know who that girl was. But I do, and deep down inside I know what it was like to be that girl.
I remember every detail of my sweet therapist’s office. I remember the paintings that hung on the wall. I remember the chair I sat in. I remember the tears that began to stream down her face when she told me I needed more help than she could provide. I remember the sobs that came from me and the Kleenex she handed me as she held my hand. I remember standing up and giving her a brave smile. And I remember the hug she gave me as I left her office, knowing I had a decision to make.
If you had bumped into me in a coffee shop a little over three years ago, you would have thought I had it all together. I always had the right outfit with the right accessory. I had bow in my hair and the biggest smile you have ever seen on my face. If you were my friend a little over three years ago I would have sat across from you at coffee and told you that I was just fine. I might have admitted that I had a little issue with food but that I had it under control. Deep down inside I knew I had a problem but I was okay with the problem because I didn’t want to let go of the control. Ed (my eating disorder) was ruining and wrecking my life. That day in counselling three years ago I made a decision. I decided that I would stop letting Ed take control and I would start fighting for freedom. And I haven’t stopped since that day.
I remember who that girl was and today I see her all around me. She is the one who looks like she has it all together. She is the one who is involved in everything. She is the one who always has a smile on her face. She is the one who is the first to help you with all your problems. She could be your best friend, your sister, your boss, your mom, your wife.
You may have no idea she has a problem because you think she has her life all together. You may see her comment on food. You may see her be a “picky eater”. You may even see her count calories or exercise. But you think nothing of it, because in today’s society, talking negatively about our body or food is acceptable. You may think nothing of it because you too have those behaviors.
Can I tell you a secret? She needs you.
Whether she wants to admit it or not. She needs you to hold her hand. She needs your hugs. She needs your love. She needs your support. Even more she needs to know that you don’t love her any less because of this. She needs to know that you don’t think she’s crazy. She needs you to know she will mess up and it will be hard but you will stand by her. That smile on her face is hiding her pain and her put together outfit and life are facades in order to fool you into thinking she has her life together. She wants you to think she has it all under control when really her control is slipping through her fingertips.
So love her and show her grace. Help her when she needs it and listen when she asks. If it weren’t for those people in my life I would have never made it in recovery. For those of you who are struggling, let someone in. I promise you won’t regret it.
For those of you who love someone struggling with Ed, hold their hand and listen. You can’t fight the battle for them but you can love, support and show them grace while they do it, and I promise you it will make a bigger impact than you know.
Know that today and everyday you are not alone.
– image credit: Death to the Stock Photo