I have made a terrible mistake.
I chose an eating disorder, over my friends.
It hurts like hell and I didn’t realise what I was doing until I woke up, one day, and understood what I had thrown away –
Schoolmates and best friends. The people that you share your fashion disasters and first loves with; who know you as well as you know yourself and who you must talk to the moment you’ve said goodbye. The friends that you spend your formative years with, day in and day out, and who you should be able to laugh over schoolgirl antics with, fifteen years down the line, when you’re all grown up.
Childhood friendships. The ready built networks that introduce you to the friends you suffer after school clubs with, or those who are as music or sport obsessed as you are. The people that you meet along the way, when you’re finding out what you like – and what your parent’s like – and striking up a conversation’s not as complicated as it later becomes.
University peers. The people you share the transition from home – to life – with. The new friends and extended social groups and people that expand your mind and share your thinking. The groups you rent your first home with, and celebrate your graduation with, and grab a drink with after work, years later, when you’re wondering what the student loan was for.
The people you meet when you’re on a beach in a swimsuit – or a pub on a Friday night – or at a random house party of the brother of someone you once met –
The friends of friends, who you get on with for the simple fact that you care about the same person.
The people that make you feel like you’ve come home.
An eating disorder does not do sharing and it’s not hot on friends.
It does not like people who ask questions or might cotton onto what’s going. It does not want comments about changing body shapes or reminders of ‘then’.
It’s not good with expectations (that might jeopardise its supremacy) and obligations (that might break the food rules) and emotions (that might make you think twice); is scared of guilt (from the hurt you could cause) and concern (because you might decide to change) and the possibility that you might reciprocate the friendship –
and then where would it go?
It steals – with little consideration for the consequences – the opportunities and occasions that take you into the world; prefers hospital beds to classrooms, and therapeutic care to friendships. It would rather you chose a safe and secure half life and remained away from the one that the rest of the world is enjoying –
And, because it hits you at the crucial time when it’s all going on, it very very nearly succeeds.
I have missed 21st Birthdays, and weddings, and seeing the people that I knew in shell suits and pyjama parties becomes lawyers and mothers, because I was oblivious to what was going on –
Have walked away when I might have been needed, and opted out, rather than joined in -
And now, I am salvaging the remains –
because I have made a terrible terrible mistake.