National Eating Disorders Association
Blog

My Dad, My Recovery Hero

Emma Giordano, Communications Intern

I consider myself extremely blessed to have a good relationship with my father. After my parents' divorce, physical distance has become more common, but if anything, I’m lucky to have grown closer to him. As a result of the separation, my dad was out of the house before I first entered treatment for my anorexia, but he’s been a teddy bear of support ever since.

My dad has had his fair share of struggles, with now 17 years of sobriety and nearly 10 years clean of drugs. His past addiction to substances has made it easy for us to connect on the grounds of my addiction to my eating disorder. His recovery has inspired my own. Knowing that he found the strength to live a better, healthier life continues to give me hope that I can be just as free from my personal demons. It’s easy for us to open up to each other because we both know what is it like to feel helpless and out of control, but we also have experienced the joy of recovery. Although our situations are some that I would not wish upon anyone, I’m thankful we have each other to relate to and comfort, when others may not understand as well.

Even though my father wasn’t there for every morning breakfast or every nightly dinner as a result of the divorce, he was there for the moments of recovery when I really needed him. The first time I was sent to the hospital for a psychological evaluation, he ran straight to the hospital and sat in the waiting room until it was time to go home. During my hospitalization, he was at every possible visitation hour the hospital offered and held my hand with endless words of encouragement. Though he now lives a few states away, he never fails to ask me how I’m doing with managing my eating disorder and how therapy is going. But what I feel is most important is that he is genuinely overjoyed every time I tell him I’m doing great. I know his support is real and true, and that is what’s most meaningful.

I spent this past Thanksgiving with my dad, sister, and grandmother for the first time in about seven years. For some of us suffering or recovering, the holidays are a time of stress, even when surrounded by those we love. I was immensely excited to see my father for the first time in months, though I still harbored a few negative thoughts when it came to a special occasion that is often focused on food. Surprisingly, it was one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve ever had. I tried three new foods I had avoided eating virtually all of my life as a result of my disordered eating habits, and my dad was extremely supportive! He never pressured me to step outside of my comfort zone, but rather congratulated me on a feat he understands is important to me. These foods and this holiday are no longer associated with fear and anxiety, but with loving memories of my dad. 

My family has always been a huge rock grounding my recovery, but each member has provided something special. I’m so thankful for my father always supporting me and accommodating my needs. I’m thankful that there is someone I can relate to, someone I can look up to, and someone that loves me for who I am. My dad has always allowed me to be my uncensored self, has never shamed me for who I am, and has, and will always be, my best friend. So thank you, daddy, for being my biggest recovery hero.

I understand that Father’s Day may bring up varying emotions for different people, but please remember that this is more than just a time to celebrate our dads and partners. We should celebrate the figures who have offered us guidance, understanding, and support. For some us, that might be our fathers. For others, it may be someone else. Regardless of how Father’s Day makes you feel, reach out to those who have loved and provided for you over the years. This holiday is about love and appreciation, no matter where it is directed.