You Can’t Do it Alone

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Today is my best friend’s 22nd birthday and I wish more than anything that I could be there to celebrate with her. Megan and I have been friends since kindergarden and distance has not been able to separate us. I consider her to be another sister of mine. Our friendship has been long distance the past few years with her at Lee University and myself at Tennessee Tech. We spend our summers apart and rarely see each other more than a few times over each holiday break. She knows everything about me and I know everything about her; our friendship is completely honest, completely vulnerable, and completely real. We laugh until we cry and cry until we laugh, we pray for each other, bear each others burdens, and we do life on life together. We can have fun doing literally anything together. We have bonded over Harry Potter, her mom’s amazing food, shopping, lounging, late night sleepovers, beach trips, Netflix, and most importantly, Jesus. We have walked through seasons of joy and seasons of suffering together, both of which have made our friendship stronger each time. One of Megan’s love languages is words of affirmation, so I couldn’t think of a better way to wish her a happy birthday than writing her a letter.

I chose to publish this letter because community and companionship are two of the biggest things that helped me get to where I am in recovery. At the beginning of recovery, I voiced to my therapist that I felt really misunderstood and alone. She explained to me that it wasn’t uncommon for me to feel this way because it is nearly impossible to fully understand the complexity of an eating disorder to someone who has never experienced it. She told me that in recovery, it can seem like our friend circles and close relationships grow smaller and smaller and become less and less. We talked about how some people are “safe” and others are “not-so-safe”. Safe people listen and encourage without judgement. They genuinely try to understand and want to help as much as possible. These are the people who “get it”. Not-so-safe people make no attempt to understand. They tell you that you should “just eat” to conquer your eating disorder. They continue to criticize their own bodies and eating habits in front of you, and they don’t seem to understand why you can be irritable, on edge, sad, anxious, or depressed during multiple times during the day. In recovery there are people in your life who understand what it is to suffer and fight well, and there are people who are more focused on themselves and the world around them. Many of these people haven’t experienced trauma or suffering so it’s hard for them to relate, and that is understandable. Megan has been one of my “safe” friends. She is always quick to pick up the phone and listen to me when I need her, she helps keep me accountable, she shows me compassion when I am not showing it to myself, she continually points me to Jesus and teaches me how to “go with the flow”, she is smart, funny, beautiful, and kind. Megan is a lover of all people and she is one of the people who helped save my life this summer.

Eating Disorder recovery cannot be done alone. It’s too hard, to demanding, too frustrating, and too difficult. If you try to do it alone it will be very, very difficult to recover. If you are suffering from an eating disorder, it is important that you are able to identify people in your life who you want to involve in your recovery process. Not everyone is cut out for the job…trust me. On my worst days in recovery I can be very irritable, emotional, and illogical. Being around friends like Megan made recovery a little bit easier as the days went by.

Hey Meg,

I am not sure where to begin. I want to start by saying thank you…thank you for everything. Thank you for being a girl scout with me. Thank you for taking me on vacation and not getting mad at me for breaking the closet door…and thank you for inviting me back. Thank you for taking me shopping and picking out all of my outfits. Thank you for allowing me to be the high-maintenace friend (#Blessed). Thank you for an endless amount of memories and stories. Thank you for showing me Jesus when it felt impossible to see him. Thank you for listening and understanding. Thank you for talking me out of relapses and reminding me of how far I have come. Thank you for helping me to see myself through eyes of compassion. Thank you for showing me that my relationship with the Lord wasn’t meant to be legalistic. Thank you for praying for me, doing bible studies with me, and talking about Jesus for hours. Thank you for inspiring me and bringing me hope. Thank you for loving me and supporting me in everything God has (and will) call me to. Thank you for drawing me closer to Jesus each day.

You’re a world changer…I’ve always thought this about you. Your love for EVERY person that you come in contact with, no matter what their story is and where they have come from. You’re adventurous and brave. You have the unique ability to see into a person’s soul very quickly upon meeting. You are humble and selfless, and you’re not afraid to admit your 24/7 need for Jesus. You are everything I would want in a best friend and more. In some ways we are polar opposites and in other ways we are extremely similar. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy Birthday Meg! Love you longtime. Thanks for teaching me that I can’t do life alone.

XOXO,

Em

10/20/2016

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