It was great to get to know some of you better through your comments back to “I Have a Dream of a World FREE from Eating Disorders”! So for this second post, I thought I would share a bit more of my own story of how I beat my eating disorder through harnessing the power of relationships.
And I would love to hear more about who you lean on for support, how those relationships help you stay strong in pursuing your recovery goals, and what kinds of relationships you are still seeking for recovery support!
I first became ill with anorexia when I was eleven. At seventeen, I developed bulimia as well. By the time I turned eighteen, my relationship with my eating disorder had become so demanding that little time remained in my days for relationships with friends, family, or anyone else. I felt so lonely that I wasn’t sure which would kill me first–the isolation, or the malnutrition. In truth, I was starting not to care.
Then one day I met the woman who was to become my first mentor, Annie.
She, like me, didn’t know much about eating disorders, but she did know that something had gone very wrong in my life. One day a few weeks after we met she sat me down and gently let me know that she could see I was hurting. She didn’t try to diagnose, judge, or pry me open with her observations or preconceived notions. She simply invited me to connect with her through letting me know that she cared.
Through the weeks and months that followed, I began to place more value in Annie’s thoughts and suggestions than in what the eating disorder voice would say. I listened closely to Annie’s words, and when they conflicted with what the eating disorder voice said, I chose to trust Annie over the eating disorder.
Looking back, I think I became willing to make this shift in loyalty because, unlike the eating disorder voice, Annie never pretended to be stronger or better than me–and she never pretended to have all the answers either. She let me know up front that she had had her own share of hard times, which was how she could tell I was struggling. She told me that she could see so much of herself in me, and that was how she knew that I, too, could triumph over anything life handed me.
Over time, the caring, loving bond I formed with Annie began to literally replace my dependency on the “relationship” I had formed with my eating disordered thoughts and coping skills. Through allowing Annie to love and support me, I also gained the confidence and courage to allow myself to form other loving, trusting relationships as well. Finally, I even began to love and trust myself–my real, eating disorder-free self.
One day I realized that my life had gotten too full of cherished people and activities to leave me much time to devote to my eating disorder. I also realized I didn’t miss the eating disorder at all. At that point, I finally became both willing and able to release my last bits of dependency on the eating disorder in favor of resuming my full, rich, and rewarding real life!
Today, I co-lead a mentoring community called MentorCONNECT which was created specifically to connect those in strong recovery from eating disorders–people like myself–with people who are seeking recovery support–maybe people like you or someone you care about.
MentorCONNECT is co-led by four volunteers–myself, Andrea Roe, Robin Richardson, and Lynn Gerhard. We all know firsthand what it is like to feel all alone in our battle against our eating disorders. And we have all experienced the transformative power that is released in those first moments when we met that one person who became our mentor or sponsor, who gave us hope, who believed in us before we felt ready to believe in ourselves, and who held our hand, as someone had first held their hand when they needed it most. What was first offered to us, we now hold out with open arms of hope to you!
So now we invite you to join MentorCONNECT and become a part of the infinite circle of giving and receiving that mentoring offers us. No matter where you are in your recovery process, you have hope and support to offer someone else who is hurting, and you have need of that same hope and support yourself.
For those of you who are in strong recovery, there is someone who needs the help and support that only you can give. For those of you who are still struggling against the grips of your eating disorder, there is someone who knows what it feels like and believes that you, too, can BEAT your eating disorder once and for all!
There is a place for all of us at MentorCONNECT. We need each other to survive, and thrive. And, truthfully, we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Warmly and with HOPE,