About a month ago I lost a dear friend and mentor. My friend didn’t physically die. My friend simply ended our friendship in response to a boundary I needed to put into place where conversations about food restriction, increased exercise, clothing size changes and weight loss were concerned.
It’s been difficult. It’s been easy.
It’s been painful. It’s been soothing.
I’ve felt powerless. I’ve felt empowered.
It’s been incredibly confusing. It’s been equally clear.
Paradox: when two opposites are equally true.
It is utterly impossible in our western world to live a life free from discussions about the list of things I mentioned in the first paragraph. We are a shame driven, perfectionist culture where success is defined first and foremost by our size. Nowhere is this more evident to me than it is knowing that there are little girls as young as five talking about dieting and how much they already hate their bodies. It is everywhere and as a result, it would be utterly impossible not to have conversations with others where some kind of talk ensues about all things related to the size of our bodies. Though I have made personal choices to change the conversation around these issues, I am not unrealistic about the reality that there will be talk that is uncomfortable for me. Unfortunately, in this relationship my coping skills and/or ability to articulate with enough grace and truth early on proved sufficient to end a very special friendship.
Months ago my friend started dieting in earnest in response to a medical test indicating she was nearing Type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, I have two friends who have made similar decisions in response to this issue. My take on both has been that I love my friends and that it is really none of my business how they choose to manage their health concerns. When affirmation is sought from me, I habitually redirect the conversation to something else unless I am specifically asked what my opinion is. If a friend chooses to engage in a conversation in response to an advocacy post I put on Facebook I freely share what I think and sometimes, often times, we agree to disagree. My belief is simply that life is complex enough without my direct interference.
All that said, like Frodo in The Lord of the Rings after he was stabbed by the Ringwraiths sword, I will always carry the wound of having been stabbed by an eating disorder that nearly took my daughter’s life on multiple occasions. The layers of personal trauma are going to be something I will carry for the remainder of my life. These traumas have and will continue to incur a cost for me. And there will be no cost greater than the impact this reality has on my relationships. Over time and thanks to five years of intense psychotherapy, I have learned how to manage my vulnerability pretty well but there are just times when it’s necessary to part ways. I never expected this would be one of those times.
Perhaps maturity is simply coming to grips with one’s reality and choosing to allow it to be what it is. I will miss this person in my life acutely and I will always be grateful beyond words for the impact made on my life as a result of knowing her but this is my sovereign path and tonight I just needed to write about it.