Wow! By the title alone, you know this is going to be interesting at a minimum! I promise you from the start of this post, I will be (and am) very sensitive to anyone with this disorder. That being said, it has occurred to me that there must be many people like myself that make a go of supporting (or attempting to) a loved one who suffers from any Eating Disorders and may find my assessment on the subject thought provoking. This writing will be short because I am no pro on the topic. I must also point out that when I told my better half of my plan to write this, she initially cringed at the thought, but graciously allowed me to continue.
To set the stage:
I was having a frustrating day and the last thing that I wanted to do that evening was attend an AA meeting – which is probably the best time to go, so I did. It wasn’t listed as a men’s only meeting, however, I had never seen a lady attend before. This meeting generally sat 10 to 15 men and most couldn’t (or wouldn’t) finish a sentence without swearing. Then it happened. The love of my life walked down the steps and into the damp, dark, and dreary Catholic church boiler room basement, appearing out of nowhere. She was stunning! In my eyes, she was of proper weight, height, skin tone etc. and I wouldn’t have (and haven’t) change that estimation. There was no way possible that this classy looking lady who looked like she just stepped out of church bible study was single, and if so – I am just a lowly alcoholic that doesn’t stand a chance. Yes, I have self-esteem issues, but the point is that there was no way (by sight alone) that I could have pegged her for my stereotypical view of someone with an eating disorder.
I was struggling with glorifying my drinking days in my mind and when it came time for me to comment, I told everyone in the meeting – including her – that there isn’t a character defect that I don’t possess and demonstrate on a daily basis. Boy, I was a “catch”.
In an effort not to drag the story on too long, I asked her to coffee and she said yes! Eventually, I would learn just how difficult that was for her. She was very shy and reserved, but nothing too alarming as I wasn’t in the search for “bling”. Our relationship took off and we were both very honest with each other about our past. She is also many years sober which works out very well for me – she understands my disease. Un similar to me with her eating disorder, however, but I was ready and wanted to learn.
Here is what I thought I knew (you may notice some character defects that I mentioned):
- Anorexia is only for models and actresses. It probably only occurs in Hollywood, L.A. or New York City.
- Bulimia only occurs if the anorexic ate too much.
- There are no other eating disorders.
- Being a vegan or vegetarian is only for those who want to appear “posh” or religious extremists.
- Eating disorders are not a psychological disorder and only has to do with body image.
- If “they” would just eat normal, they would be fine.
- I don’t care to know more.
Here is what I know now:
- All seven above are unquestionably FALSE and I knew nothing.
- Eating disorders can and do kill people.
- I care.
I have a lot to learn. I will continue to accept that “exchanges” and nutrition labels are part of my everyday life now. She no longer has to fight this battle alone – she doesn’t want to – and that is huge progress. I know that with love and with God that we will continue to grow from our challenges and successes. I am blessed to have met her and it has helped me to grow personally.
People learn from one another, just as iron sharpens iron.
3 John 8
We Christians, then, must help these people, so that we may share in their work for the truth.
God brought her and me together. She wasn’t planning to attend that meeting that night and never had attended previously. The maturity level of two people forming a relationship who have struggled with life or death is remarkable and noticeable to me. I have learned (and continue) so much from her. She is strong, invaluable, unique, loveable and treasured and I never want her to “disappear”.
Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.
If you are interested, this is a link to a more helpful author on the subject. Feel free to comment.