Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Chances are that you might not feel completely supported as you commit to fully recovering from your eating disorder. Perhaps you have a few people in your life that you can count on for support, but, unless those people have experienced an ED, they likely cannot empathize with you on a larger scale.
This is very common, and it’s mostly because people don’t understand eating disorders as a whole. Though we all seem to experience food-related issues to varying degrees, people around you may tend to distinguish eating disorders as something a bit more “abnormal” from the common yo-yo dieting or food aversions that seem to simply be a part of life.
Society has deemed food to be helpful and hurtful simultaneously. Emotional eating is encouraged, as is dieting, leading to a general acceptance of both. Eating disorders, on the other hand, are neither understood nor condoned. This feels especially true if you engage in the purging action of your food through vomiting or laxatives. To many people, this kind of action is gross and aberrant.
It’s key to come into a place of acceptance with this lack of understanding you may perceive around you. People who love you will approach you as best as they know how.
Coming to this awareness can feel difficult. You’ve worked hard to come to the place of honesty – both with yourself and others – about your eating disorder. And so when someone comes to and says, “Should you really be eating that?” or, “Can’t you just stop it already?”, it can feel like an attack. And coming from someone you love, it can feel as though he or she is intentionally hurting you.
This generally isn’t the case. Unless this person is lashing out from long-term resentment or short-term anger, he or she is approaching you with an attitude of genuine concern. This person isn’t versed in the kind of language that you may crave and need at this time, one filled with unconditional acceptance and obvious validation.
Remember one thing that we all share as humans: we all want to be seen. We all want to know that what we are doing – even and especially if it’s fixing something about ourselves – makes a difference and has worth. We all know we want to feel meaningful, but sometimes we don’t know how to communicate that to each other.
So when you feel unsupported by those around you as you recover, there are two things you can do. You can realize that they are coming from the highest place of awareness they can access, and you can communicate your needs to them. If someone loves you, he or she is doing his or her best to support you. Accept that, and once you’ve accepted it, gratitude for those people will follow.
When the same people somehow disappoint or trigger you, do your best to realize that they, again, are coming from the highest place of awareness that they can, and then express your needs to them. Maybe it is as simple as asking them not to reference your weight or the food you are eating. Whatever it is, abstain from as much judgment as possible. We are all seeking love and validation, so honor their attempt to support you.
In the end, we draw from the love of others when we cannot sense that love within ourselves. When we recognize that our healing journey is sacred, as is the journey of another, we can unite in a common sense of appreciation for life and each other.