Three years after GAINING was published, I'm still so touched by the letters I receive. I'm also honored to have established some fabulous friendships and correspondences with readers who have recovered since reading my book. Some of these individuals have gone on to be powerful forces for the recovery of others. They pay their health forward every day.
One such friend is Donna, who battled anorexia for decades and just sent me the heartfelt letter below. I am so proud of her, and so hopeful for the other woman whose life Donna found the courage to touch yesterday. In sharing this story with you, I hope that we all can marshal similar courage to reach out, show each other true compassion, and dare to make a positive difference in each other's lives.
i am writing because
i know the value of sharing discoveries.
my street is not a busy street. it is beautifully tucked next to south carolina's version of forest gump...at least 4 magnificent, authentic shrimp boats call this road home. There are many shrimpers and locals that come to buy today's catch, but seldom a runner, unless it is me running home. today, however there was a woman, a severely anorexic woman, middle aged, hard to tell exact age due to the toll of the disease on her existence. she limped along, obviously some injury plagued her...she was gaunt...i pulled into my driveway, got out of my car and asked if i could talk to her...with a blank stare she said yes...
i said, i know the pain you are in, i know the jail you call home, you do not have to beat yourself and your body to a pulp. she responded, i am fine, i eat all of the time, i just love to run. i said i do too and i used to do what you do....run and run and run...
she replied, her friends are worried she is too skinny,i said you are....
i told her
that i used to run multiple hours a day...her competitive response was, wow, i
do not do that.
i said, you can get help, i am here for you, you can come
she looked at me and said i need to get going on my run, i said i understand....
she then asked if i had just moved here and talked about how special this spot was. as she began to run away, she
asked my name and gave me hers.
i told her with tears in my eyes, that my thoughts came from the the heart, i too had experienced the hurt and the hell of this illness...i said she could get help, she could get out of jail...she was welcome to come to my house, i would listen, understand...it took guts and courage to stop. i was taking a huge risk, but i did stop, and whether she "heard" me or not, at least she knows there is one person who knows what her life is like. maybe she will continue, but maybe not.
it was also a sure sign of my health and well being....as i no longer wanted to look like her and i felt extreme sadness for her.
Bravo, Donna! I am in awe of you.