Just like any non-sociopath, I hate watching my friends struggle or be in pain. But, what if no one wins regardless of how much “help” is offered?
I found myself in this situation when I was struggling with my eating disorder. To close friends, I was relatively open about my situation. I admitted that I had a problem and I was actively dealing with it by meeting with qualified professionals. I didn’t expect my friends’ help — the support meant more to me than anything else.
At the same time, I was hyper aware of eating disorder red flags. I knew almost every trick in the anorexic’s book, so when I heard friends recite the script, I couldn’t help but notice. I also wanted to help. Although I thought these friends should talk with a nutritionist and/or counselor, I figured that I could provide some other help. Maybe they would be more open to talking with me because of my own experiences…
That much was true. One particular friend who was struggling with an eating disorder was more comfortable talking to me. I was also more comfortable talking to her. Quickly, the majority of our conversations revolved around what we were eating or weren’t eating.
My recovery stalled.
Rather than focusing on getting better, I was validating my decisions. So what if I woke up before 7 every single morning to have an adequate amount of time between breakfast and lunch? So what if I limited my calories to a set number at each meal? So what if I worked out when my doctor forbade anything more than walking?
I wasn’t alone! I wasn’t weird! I also wasn’t getting better — and I was likely bringing another person down with me.
At the end of the day, we were truly toxic to each other. Not only was I failing at my goal of helping her, but I was creating an even bigger problem for myself. So, I made the nicest, harshest decision of my life: I had to cut off ties with this friend.
In the time since then, both this friend and I have gotten help.
I’m healthier, happier and in a better position to actually help other people dealing with eating disorders. As for the friend, I hope she’s doing well, but I don’t really know. I’m still not close with her and I probably never will be. Our friendship was one of the casualties of my eating disorder.
But, isn’t a friendship a better sacrifice than a life — or two?