National Eating Disorders Association

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Mtoto22
For partners

In writing a letter to my partner about what I need from him as far as support in recovery, it struck me that this might be useful perspective for other partners of people recovering or recovered from EDs. Here's a piece of the letter, context implied (dot-dot-dots for editing out long-windedness and things specific to our situation)

..... Even if I were actively struggling with this disease, anger and accusation and shaming are the absolute worst way to confront someone and express your concern when it arises.....

The first time I ever felt myself make real progress in my recovery was when I found good friends who accepted me exactly as I was, struggles and all, loved and supported me unconditionally, saw the best and not the worst in me, hugged me when I messed up, were willing to talk honestly with me about it, and believed that I could get through it. Only then did I have the space to detach from the guilt and shame of what I was going through (which I knew impacted others, like family, who understandably could only respond with fear and mistrust), and learn to love myself as I was (a wreck at the time) and trust in myself to make good decisions. The self-respect and acceptance was the absolute core and foundation that needed to be laid before I could move forward.

That foundation can never be undone.

The best people in my life were the ones who saw my strength, not my weakness; recognized my successes and didn’t judge me for my failures. That’s what I need in a supportive partner.

Mistrust only recognizes the weakness, and in a way forces a person into that identity. In that sense it’s similar to treating a recovered alcoholic like an active alcoholic. It’s like doubting a child who believes they can achieve something instead of supporting them.

It took an absolutely tremendous amount of energy to get to the point of knowing that I was safe with myself, that I would make decisions that were good for me. It wasn’t just about eating food, or healing years from eating disorder behaviors, which was a whole other series of chemical roller coasters. My brain chemicals were extremely unbalanced, my blood sugar was extremely unbalanced, I experienced waves of crushing depression and crippling anxiety and full-blown panic attacks and self-hatred and shame. I was so distracted I couldn’t hold down a job or get through school, and I was too ashamed to ask for help. This went on for years… years… even after I got to the point of being my own ally. And that was just the physical, biochemical stuff..... Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that as my partner, I really need you to recognize this strength in order to be able to support me as a healthy woman going forward .....

claire_bear
Thank you for sharing

Hey there, thank you for sharing your open letter on the forum. I’m sorry to hear that you are having a hard time lately, but am happy to see you are learning how to express yourself in recovery, which can be very difficult. Please be well.

_admin_moderator
Edited Post

Hi Mtoto22! Just wanted to let you know your post has been edited to remove some obsence language and words that could trigger our other forum-goes. Please refer to our community guidelines here: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/forums/community-guidelines. Please keep posting!

bamoon13
Thank you

Thank you for posting this. My husband has an ED and I very much struggle with being supportive. There is a lot of emotional history that came before the diagnosis and so it is frequently difficult to set it aside and be supportive.

Do you have suggestions for being supportive? Or examples of things that others did that truely helped you?

Jd1201
Thank you!

I am still trying to learn how to approach my partner and what is mine to talk about and what is his, if that makes sense. My question is, how would a partner balance recognizing strength and providing positive support without enabling? I am not sure I know the difference.