How Love Can Help Those in Eating Disorder Recovery
Dear Brave One,
By now you know that, sometimes, loving someone with an eating disorder can be rife with pain. You know that, sometimes, it can feel like your heart is being pulled right out of your chest. And, day after day, you do it anyway — because this is what it means to love another.
But there may be something that you need to hear, in case you haven’t been told recently or just find yourself forgetting…
You are loved. And your love is felt.
I know that, in the moments of darkness, you may not feel this love. Sometimes, it feels like the only thing in the room, in the entire universe, is this eating disorder — this vicious, ugly eating disorder that has blocked out any sight of this person that you love. It’s hard to even recognize them anymore. And maybe it’s even hard to recognize yourself.
You may be experiencing feelings you never anticipated feeling. You may be acting in ways you don’t particularly like. You might be angry. You might feel helpless. You might feel defeated and, maybe worst of all, hopeless.
And through it all, your love is felt.
I know that some of you might not actually believe me right now, and I also know that some of you have made it to the other side and know exactly what I mean. Wherever you are on this journey, please know that your love is felt. It may not be in the sense that you are used to. Maybe your loved one hasn’t been able to acknowledge it. Maybe they’ve even told you as much. But your love is felt.
It’s felt deep in the body, in the rippling folds of the brain, and in the soul. One of the coolest things about all of the advancements in neuroscience is that it has shown us how other people’s love physically changes us. Without us even knowing it, love — and feeling connected to other people — is rewiring the brain, strengthening us, making us better thinkers and making us more resilient.
When we love others, we make this happen. When you love the person with the eating disorder, you help to make these positive changes.
You love through some of the most trying and heart-wrenching times. You see suffering and show compassion. You can see darkness and offer light. You don’t give up. You hold hope when no one else can.
The eating disorder will never love him or her as fiercely as you do. You don’t let the eating disorder win. And for all of these reasons and so many more, on behalf of all of those that suffer and all of those that work with them, we thank you. Your love has been felt and continues to be felt by all of us.
Ashley Solomon, PsyD, CEDS is Executive Director at Eating Recovery Center, Ohio.