August 29, 2018

To the Lovers who Love Someone Battling an Eating Disorder.

I know it can’t be easy to love us, and I know you wish you could fix us.

We don’t need you to cure us—there is no cure.

We are marked by our disorders: whether we are starting our fight or in remission, it lives in our system forever. Like a virus, sometimes dormant, sometimes attacking us with the symptoms that nearly took us down the last time.

Just love and accept us as we are: imperfect and slightly damaged, but with more strength and discipline than you will ever know.

From all of us who have equated our weight with our worth, thank you for not giving up on us.

Thank you for breaking down the walls we build up around ourselves. Thank you for finding foods that feel safe to us, for quietly changing menus to accommodate us, for not pushing or judging when we just can’t bring ourselves to eat that doughnut. Thank you for letting us know that we are not alone.

We’re sorry for ruining so many dinners, for appearing accidentally ungrateful when we refuse your gestures of love in the form of food. We’re sorry for falling apart when this disorder is just too much, when the guilt and shame and worry take over.

We’re sorry for making you walk the line between not forcing us to eat, and not allowing us to go hungry.

We apologize for taking away the simple happiness of sharing a meal with loved ones—without worrying about if and what we’ll eat. I know it can’t be easy to watch us fight ourselves from the inside out, battling shadows that just don’t seem to ever go away.

And I’m sorry when they win.

I’m sorry you have to witness the hostile takeover by a side of me I never wanted to exist. I don’t mean to question your sincerity when you compliment me. I’m sorry that I sometimes see only those shadows, and lose sight of what I look like in your eyes.

We might seem like we don’t want to talk about it, but it’s only because there are so many things to say, and so few of them seem like enough. We are ashamed, and scared, and feeling trapped in our own minds.

From all of us who fight each day, to the loyal lovers by our sides: I hope you know that your love is the only thing that brings us back to ourselves.

I know that seems too simple. You want to help, and feel like you don’t know what to do—but you are doing everything you can just by being you, by being present.

We are in the ring alone, but knowing that you are waiting in the wings gives us strength.

What we need from you is endless understanding, even if we don’t make sense. Talk to us, even though it seems impossible to begin—because not enough people do. By doing so, we break the silence and destroy the stigmas surrounding eating disorders.

We need to know that you still believe in us, so that we can too. Be the person we can talk to when we don’t know what to say, be the one to check in on us when we retreat into ourselves, be the one to remind us of the fellowship found in a shared meal.

You love the parts of us that we’ve tried to make disappear: the rolls on my stomach become a source of laughter from tickles, the flab on my arms is squeezed tight in hugs that make everything seem better, the weight on my legs is the strength to run and jump and play and relish in the beauty of being healthy.

Your love for me and my love for you make me want to stay whole.

I don’t want to disappear because I want more moments with you. I don’t want to waste away to nothing because that would mean fewer places for you to touch me, to hold me, to love me. I don’t want to numb my feelings with hunger because that means numbing love too. Your love nourishes my soul and gives me the strength to nourish my body.

So to everyone who loves someone battling an eating disorder: you are the reason we keep fighting.

Your love reminds us how to love—to love others, and to love ourselves, which, while not a cure, is the best remedy I’ve found so far. Don’t give up on us. You give us hope: that one day we won’t have to fight anymore, and that some day, no one will.



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