National Eating Disorders Association
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You Never Gave Up On Me, Dad

Anna Kilar

Dad, 

I remember when I was five years old. You took me to my elementary school parking lot on a sunny, warm evening to teach me how to ride a bike. I remember us staying in that wide, open parking lot until I was riding circles around you. The picture we have from that day, where I have the biggest smile on my face, proves just how proud I was of myself and how you never let me give up. 

I remember during my senior year of high school, when I found myself falling out of love with running and cross country: you asked me to think about why I started running in the first place, and why I’ve continued with it for all those years. You told me to look within myself and to find, internally, where that passion once came from. You told me, when I was feeling so lost and down, “Run for yourself. Not for anyone or anything else. Just you.” Years later, the picture we have from the day after I finished my first marathon, I once again, have the biggest smile on my face. I was so proud of myself. You never let me give up. 

I remember you teaching me how to drive, how to mow the lawn (which I only did once), how to be polite, show compassion, value my work, commitments, support my friends and family, and overall showing and teaching me what it means to strive to be a better person every day. 

But most importantly, you’ve taught me to never give up. 

I shook up our world when I was diagnosed with anorexia. That day, we were 300 miles away from one another, and you wrote me an email, explaining how you couldn’t wrap your head around this disease. You only had one request: don’t give up. 

For those months through treatment, you were my rock. You pushed me to challenge myself beyond limits I never knew I had. You provided me with obstacles that, at the time, the eating disorder despised, but essentially saved my life. You continued to catalyze my recovery each day learning about eating disorders, equipping yourself with the proper tools and resources, reaching out for help, and most importantly, communicating with me and inspiring me to push forward. You never gave up on me, so I never gave up on you. 

Now, at still the tender age of 22, as cliché as it may sound, I look back on everything you have taught me and know I still have so much learning to do. Your time and dedication to our family, your work, your hobbies, your friends, is overwhelming and I strive to be like you every day. I’ve never seen you give up, and in return, you won’t see me give up either.  

Anna Kilar is a senior at Loyola University Chicago studying health systems management. Anna was a Proud2Bme volunteer, and she is passionate about raising awareness for eating disorders, promoting body positivity, and learning about ways to increase access and quality of care for mental health.