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Friendships after recovering from an eating disorder

August 3, 2015 | By | 2 Replies Continue Reading
A teen’s friend dumps her after she recovers from an eating disorder, leaving her confused about what happened.

QUESTION

Hi,

I’m 14 years old and I had this one friend since pre-K. We stopped being close in kindergarten up until about 6th grade, when we became best friends again. Of course, we fought like all friends do but I always expected her to be there for me.

In late 2014, I developed an eating disorder (ED), which affected everyone around me. Around the end of school, was doing much better and my friend knew about my ED. One day, we were playing tag but I was tired so I said I didn’t wanna play anymore. She pushed me down, called me a bitch, and said, ” I guess you don’t wanna be skinny!”

It hurt so much but she didn’t understand. I forgave her. Then it was summer and I tried texting her but she wouldn’t reply. I asked her friend what was going on and she said, “She wants a new life and new friends.” But she still hangs out with our old friends. She blocked me on all social media but I just don’t know what happened, or what I did wrong? I know this is long but please read it!

Signed, Carly

ANSWER

Dear Carly,

I’m so glad to hear you’re doing well with your recovery. You should be very proud of the hard work you’ve done.

Two things jumped out at me from your letter. The first was that your friend pushed you. Physical aggression is an unacceptable way of expressing anger and frustration and not something you should accept from anyone. If this was a one-time occurrence and she hasn’t been violent before or since, then  forgiving her and maintaining a friendship doesn’t worry me. If she’s been physical with you in the past, I worry as to why you’re accepting this and urge you to discuss this with your therapist.

The second statement that concerned me was her comment to you about being skinny. I’m sure you know that eating disorders and body image issues are prominent among girls your age. My guess would be that your friend may have her own issues in this area and that her comment, while hurtful and unhealthy, was more an expression of her own issues with her body than with yours. If she indeed is suffering from disordered thinking, she might see you and your eating disorder as “competition” rather than understand the complexity of the problems she has. If this is the case, she might not be a healthy person to you have as a friend.

No matter what the reason is that she blocked you, I bet it has more to do with her and the problems she’s having with her thinking than it does with you. Sometimes when teens (and adults) aren’t self aware, they blame others for conflicts instead of having the insight to look at themselves and their own contributions. You might want to try to help her, but try to hold back from this impulse and focus on being stronger in your own recovery.

Rather than blaming her or blaming yourself, try to look at the situation as bad timing for your friendship and focus on the friends who make you feel good about yourself.

Good luck in your continued recovery.

Signed,

Signed, *Amy Feld


*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

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Category: RESOLVING PROBLEMS, Teen friendships

Comments (2)

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  1. Jenna says:

    Well done. Sometimes, it’s after recovery that the friendship is needed even more. Just knowing there’s support available can really help that person and prevent relapse. Great article!

  2. Susan Mann says:

    Carly,

    It hurts to lose someone we have come to think of as a friend – at any age! I recently helped someone who is 71 years old deal with it.It is even harder to figure out when a girl is 14 years old (I remember!) and has successfully overcome the challenge you have described here. There is something “not right” about this person physically pushing you, then saying such a deeply hurtful thing! There is a commonly used phrase for it. She hit you below the belt. Not sure where the term came from, but most of us have heard it before…Anyway, I don’t think she has your real, loving and kind, interests at heart; at least at this point in her life. Reach out to other people in your age group. Move on with your new sense of self. I don’t think this person is able to hang out with you (in a good way), as you journey on with your newly recovered, sense of who you are. Take care of yourself. Respect yourself. It is sad when others don’t, but don’t let them stop you! YOU GO, GIRL! (-;

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