Getting Better and Losing Relationships

412px-Harmonie der Geschöpfe When a person is seriously ill with her eating disorder, the people who are close to her were attracted to her and maintain a relationship with her as she lives and responds in life with her eating disorder intact. *

Being in harmony with your true self attracts new and more healthy relationships.

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 you eating disorder symptoms and, for reasons of their own, are psychologically matched to you based on those symptoms, may object to the change toward health in your life.

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

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

How have your relationships changed as you move on your recovery path?

*Harmony of Creatures, painted by Margret Hofheinz-Döring


0 # Oh BoyJan 2012-09-08 18:32

Oh Boy! Have they!  But thanks to you Joanna for your assistance in helping me with this previously and then this article I see the truth of this now- that must mean am doing well with my recovery process! It is one of the hardest parts i have been through so far and sometimes even now in certain moments (Moments only!) i want that person back for the comfort and support they gave me - Within minutes then reminders of how painful the letting down was take over- Then i know I have done the right thing!

The part in between...waiting for new friends to appear is hard, and feelings of lack of self worth take over but it is starting to happen so it is worth the wait! :-)


I want friends and people in my life that help me grow, that are healthy and accept me for who i am! 




Laura R
0 # ShameLaura R 2012-09-09 15:31

I'm writing here because it feels safer than the Forum right now with all the spamming going on. 

Kym - I wanted to tell you that learning how to tolerate and react in a safe way to feelings of shame is a big theme in my recovery. I think shame is what fed my life long time under-the-radar low eating behaviors. I know that BIG shame is what a transitioned me into a full blown ED a couple of years ago. I get triggered every day by shame -- in fact I deal with it on and off all day at work.

I recognize shame now. It usually says I'm not good enough or I've made a huge mistake or people can see how bad I am. It hits me fast and hard in my gut and my reaction is to panic and I always have the urge to restrict. It's very exhausting. I'd like to learn how to deal with it in a healthier way.

One thing that has really helped me start to understand what shame is about is a very cool TED talk by Brene Brown [censored]://[censored] She also has a very cool web site My T and my RD both told me to watch the shame video. 

I too hope Joanna will write about shame.

Thanks for bringing the topic up Kym.


0 # forum and shamepinkjoanna 2012-09-09 16:26
Dear Laura,

First, there is no spam happening on the forum or anywhere else on this site.  Our work is to keep it that way.  This is a challenge right now as we get the new systems working in harmony on this new website.

FYI:  Susieuser and Jennix is my web designer.  Treya is me. 

And yes, Kym and Laura, I will write about shame soon.

Laura, it's pretty terrific that you recognize shame.  Too often people simple believe the terrible things they say to themselves without realizing shame is governing their thoughts.  I'll look for the TED talk.
0 # Ted Shame Talk: thank youpinkjoanna 2012-09-09 17:03
Dear Laura,

Thank you for the TED talk by Brene Brown [censored]://[censored] recommendation.

I just finished watching it.  Wonderful. I also shared it with my Facebook followers.
And my Twitter too.

I'm grateful to your therapist for suggesting it to you so you could share it with me and the readers on my site.  What a creative and aware therapist you have. :-)
Laura R
0 # SharingLaura R 2012-09-09 17:59

Yay for sharing! I will pass your thank you on to my T. He has introduced me to the work of some really wonderful mindfulness teachers like Tara Brach, Rick Hanson and Dan Seigel. I love learning and taking the bits and pieces of things that click with me and trying to integrate them into my life.

0 # using more than one namepinkjoanna 2012-09-09 19:19
I forget to say why my web designer and I use different names on this site.  We have access to the administrative side of the site. That means we see the site differently than registered users and differently from what people see if they are not registered.

Because we need to see how the site presents itself to all readers we have to come to the site as registered and unregistered readers as well as from the administrative login.

I've noticed that at least once, maybe more, I've responded to a reader as Treya.  Please know that Treya is me.  (Treya is the name of my Tibetan Terrier adolescent - one year old now.)

533294 4174385646661 1427993213 n
That's Treya on the right. Winston (12 years old) is on the left.

This is a spur of the moment picture taken on a Sunday morning in my garden.

Add your comment

0 # RelationshipsPTC 2012-09-10 04:42

That was very interesting to read, I never thought about that.  I would think people would like you more when you are recovering, since you're not so into your ED.  I guess the people who were in your life before the ED would like you more when you're out of the ED, but maybe people you developed relationships with during the ED wouldn't, because maybe the relationship developed because there was a common ground of an ED, or something else.  Hmm.

I don't feel like any of my relationships have been sacrificed because of my ED, but maybe I don't know.  I think people are attracted to my sense of humor and kindness, which has remained throughout my ED.  I don't know if I'll ever not have an ED, but hopefully my personality will remain the same.  Maybe my ED is part of my personality now.

0 # new thoughtspinkjoanna 2012-09-10 07:49

Dear PTC,


You are thinking about a perspective that is new to you.  You are exploring it with an openness to possibilities.  This is a kind of presence that is so very helpful to recovery work.  :-)


By the way, eating disorders affect your personality. They don't become your personality. When you heal from your eating disorder it stops affecting your personality.  So your personality seems different to others when it's actually more authentically you.

0 # personalityPTC 2012-09-11 04:56

Interesting.  I can see how it affects my personality sometimes, like when I'm acting childish in T because she says I have to gain weight and I refuse and start acting like a child.  I can see that that happens.  I'll act differently with some people, but I think that's it.

I think I have a great personality (I know that sounds cocky), with or without an ED.  I don't think my sense of humor, and stuff like that has been affected by my ED. 

I still have to ponder this post.

Laura R
0 # still meLaura R 2012-09-11 07:33

I don't think my personality has changed a lot except that I'm not as brave and outgoing as I used to be and I am afraid a lot. I still have my same friends -- a small circle of forever friends.

When ED was mostly in charge I felt confidentbut but as it progressed on I knew my body would give out at some point. In the beginning of recovery, I felt really flawed like I was a much lesser me. Now I'm starting to see that I am still who I've always been at the core. I just have a lot less confidence because I don't feel lilke I am totally out from under ED.

I think fear has changed me the most. Maybe I'll ask some of my friends what they think about who I am now and what if anything has changed. Maybe they will see it from a different perspective.

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