It’s International Friendship Day and we’d like to pose a question…are you a friend to yourself? The saying goes that you can’t properly love someone until you love yourself. For those reading that are suffering with an eating disorder, you may be familiar with a feeling of disconnect from others; a certain distance you feel between yourself and others. It may have nestled in between your closest friendships, or, in the dynamic between family members.
It’s a confusing and sometimes lonely feeling. But it can also make us feel shielded, powerful and impenetrable. It’s a “by product” of the eating disorder and serves to keep you protected – emotionally – from any challenge or hurt. It can make it hard to feel loved and worthy as an individual, as the eating disorder forcefully prevents connection that could challenge it.
Simply put – if someone truly loved themselves (or knew how to) they wouldn’t engage in harmful behaviours towards themselves. They would hear the concern in the voices of their loved ones and take steps towards getting better. This is why admitting you have a problem that’s bigger than yourself is such a milestone – it’s a recognition that there’s another way to be, think and feel.
How we treat and look after (or not look after) ourselves demonstrates the love we have (or don’t have) for ourselves. Part of loving ourselves is creating trusting connections with others and experiencing the appreciation people have for who we authentically are. It’s a give-and-take dynamic that validates our sense of self-worth and identity.
We’ve said it before in our blog on the importance of boundaries in recovery, but eating disorders are the antithesis of connection. So part of recovery involves reconnecting – but firstly, with ourselves.
We disconnect from ourselves when we’ve experienced pain, hurt or trauma – something that taught us that we aren’t safe simply within ourselves. Through treatment, such as therapy, we can relearn that feeling of safety within and start to take steps towards being a friend to ourselves again.
There comes a point in recovery where we no longer want to punish ourselves. It’s a touching moment of clarity where we look back on experiences of self-punishment with, yes – possibly regret, but also peaceful understanding and acceptance of our stories. Here, in this blog post, we officially grant you permission to take steps towards loving yourself and being a friend to yourself…and thereby allowing others to love you too.
Song recommendation: Talking With Strangers – Miya Folick
Today I talked to a semi-stranger
A girl that I sorta know
But every encounter at the corner grocery
Holds potential for our relationship to grow
And half of my brain was totally afraid
That she’d hate me, never want to see me again
And half of my brain was equally afraid
That she’d like me, want to be my friend
I am learning to love
I am learning to let myself be loved…