Going to an all girls catholic school till I was 16 ment I attended yearly religious based retreats and workshops. At the time really I was just chuffed as it ment a day off lessons and homework. Oo ooh and you got to wear your school track suit all day. Delighted.
As with a lot of my religious education and exposure, I absorbed a lot/most of it on a subconcious level ( I can see the argument that it was infact, indoctrination, but really I tend to look on it more fondly…). For instance I saw a new councillor last week and something she explained brought flooding back a particular retreat I did when I was fourteen, based on relationships and interactions with others. This councillor is fabulous! For the first time I feel like I may be able to work through this, she has had anorexia so has walked this path before, is fully in Remission for years and works on a more spiritual level as well as being a therapist ( let’s call her S). CBT was helpful at first but it didn’t, for me, feel as if I was understanding WHY I was using these coping mechanisms rather just trying to change them. It’s not to say it’s not great and will work for many but for me, on a practical level, I could not see my self sitting down every time I encounter a anxiety provoking situation and do a five part model. But definitely my therapist was a fantastic woman who helped me so much but I feel that it was not the right type for me at the moment.
sorry going off on a tangent there, it all how ever ties in to the title ( I promise!). The leader of the retreat introduced me to the idea that relationship changes are normal, the idea that people come in to your life for a Reason, A Season or a Lifetime and that no matter which category they fall in to each is as valid and important as the other. At the time I was struggling with changing friendships as the year before we had entered secondary school and friendship “cliques” had been separated and as an anxious person I hated the idea that my friends would think I was being rude, ignoring them or just not wanting to be friends anymore when really we were just, growing apart. That was a normal process and it did not invalidate the strength of that friendship, what it taught us and how we grew from it. It was about accepting that not everything is meant to last forever, change in relationships is normal and no matter the length of time people are in our lives they can shape, through our experiences together, who we are as a person.
When therapists and professionals talk about your eating disorder they talk about it being your friend albeit a toxic one. But the also talk about cutting ties with her, stamping her out, bulling her. The thing is I would never do that to a friend. Especially one I had been attached at the hip to for so long and was now trying to distance myself from. S explained that she doesn’t see this friend as purely toxic and actually that this disease comes into our life to teach us something. Not saying that we need to agree with her, infact she describes her as being like a friend who is a compulsive liar, but there is a reason she is in your life.
The way I see it is if you try to distance your self from someone who was once your best friend, confidant, boyfriend or anyone you allowed to be a major part of your life through anger, punishment or bullying you just end up enraging them and attempts to avoid them in social situations or indeed any unexpected future run ins become incredibly anxiety provoking. Or if you continue to try and cling on to a someone who is no longer enjoyable company, toxic or maybe you have just grown a part from, it can be distressing and prevent you from moving on in life and continuing your development.
By seeing my ED as something that has come in to my life for a reason, I’m accepting of the fact it stayed for a season but If I cling on to it for a lifetime, the friend that became my support system for a period of my life, would stop me from becoming who I could be. But that dose not mean I should stamp it out rather it will always be in my life I just need to figure out how do distance myself from it, create new support systems and figure out what I learnt from our relationship.
(however I still can’t forgive her for landing me in A&E, on my birthday weekend. But I’m working on it 😉