Relationships with friends and family influence and are influenced by eating disorder issues. Topics relate to individual perspectives, questions, stories and support for adults in various stages of recovery and for the people who love them. Extricating yourself from negative relationships and building positive relationships are discussed.  Communication, boundaries, love, self-esteem, emotional turbulence, abuse, ways to help and accept help are explored.

Recent Flurry of Blog Posts Regarding Family Dinner Research

Love is left out of the eating disorder prevention equation yet again. Eating disorder prevention does not mean following a check list of correct behaviors at the dinner table. It means behaving reasonably and practically with a powerful undertone of love, respect, a glad willingness to listen, honesty confidence to passionately disagree and deep certainty that right or wrong everyone in the family loves and will stand by everyone else. When that is brought to daily life in a family, including family dinners, eating disorders don't have a chance to develop.

Teenager wants to help her anorexic and bulimic friend Part I: The Request

teen450px-Friendship 3This heartbreaking request for help comes often and in many forms. A teenage girl finds out her best friend is bulimic and anorexic and wants to help her. I’ll make up some names for clarity.

The Story
The story is always a variation on a theme.

Teenager wants to help her anorexic and bulimic friend Part II: My Response

girlSurfest 07 Is Here 413364003Here is my response to Maggie and other teenagers struggling to help a friend with a secret eating disorder.

Eating Disorder Recovery: getting better and losing friends

412px-Harmonie der Geschöpfe Being in harmony with your true self attracts new and more healthy relationships. *pix

When you have an eating disorder the people who are attracted to you are attracted to who you are and how you respond with your eating disorder intact.

Changes in recovery

When you are deep in your eating disorder your friends and associates have a relationship with a sick person.  When you start to get well your attitudes, choices and responses change.

  1. You are more caring and respectful of yourself.
  2. You resist sacrificing your personal resources (time, money, skills, energy) because you no longer believe that others are more important than you.
  3. You begin to use your resources to make your own dreams come true, dreams you didn’t know you had because they were buried by the eating disorder.
  4. You no longer engage is high risk behavior for thrills or because you are going along with everyone else and are numb to your fears.
  5. You feel.
  6. You regain your mind.
  7. You have opinions.
  8. You have a point of view.
  9. You matter to yourself.
  10. You say, "No," where you used to say, "Yes."

Objections to Recovery

The people in your life who were attracted to you with your eating disorder symptoms are psychologically matched to you based on those symptoms. They may object to the changes toward health in your life.

They can be ruffled, disbelieving, disappointed, hurt and angry.

If they can grow themselves and accept your healthy attitudes then your relationships change and grow.

If they cannot grow and adapt, if they need a relationship with a person who goes numb, who says yes, who sacrifices and feels guilty and responsible for other people's needs, then they will grow both resentful and bored.

If you do not go back to how you were when you were ill so the relationship is the same as it ever was, the relationship will fall apart. If you are truly in recovery, you will not or cannot go back to your illness to support people who require a self sacrificing person to fulfill their needs.

Getting Better and Gaining Friends

If this is you now, then just wait and live your life in recovery. People who are attracted to health will be attracted to you.

People who have their own solid self esteem and are willing to be responsible for themselves will become visible to you as you become visible to them.

In recovery and growing health, you have more choices and can have more satisfying relationships based on who you are now.

  1. How have your relationships changed as you move on your recovery path?
  2. What are your losses?
  3. What is new?

Joanna Poppink, MFT, Los Angeles eating disorder psychotherapist.

*Harmony of Creatures, painted by Margret Hofheinz-Döring

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