Today I wanted to answer a question I got from a reader, since I think it’s one a lot of people in recovery wonder about. She asked, “How do you find the courage to open up?” She mentioned that she would like to share her story and help others now that she is in recovery. However, she is unsure of how to begin talking about her experiences, especially considering the fact that in the past when people have asked her if she has always been naturally small, she has told them yes.
So: What was it like for me to begin talking about my eating disorder?
I probably have mentioned that I never was planning on telling a single soul about my bulimia. I, like many of you, thought I could just “get over” my eating disorder on my own, without anyone ever having to know. However, also like many of you, I found out that I needed a whole lot of support in order to really make the changes I needed to make. I started by talking to my family, and then other important people in my life. As I began to see how lovingly people responded to me, I began to develop more courage in my story.
Through my book project, I was able to connect with all kinds of people in recovery from across the United States and beyond. I also connected with professionals in the field, family members of people with eating disorders, and community leaders. Again, I saw a positive response from everyone. I realized that people were not judging me for my past, but thanking me and encouraging me for being open and doing my best to spread awareness of how to truly recover. It really has been the positive words of others that has kept me going with my project after five years now!
To put it all in a nutshell, I will say this: Each time you open up to someone, it will become a little easier for you. It will often feel a little uncomfortable to share something so personal, but it will also likely be a bridge for you and whomever you’re sharing with to develop a more open, honest relationship. Usually when I start talking to others about my experiences, they will share struggles of their own.
If you are concerned about telling people about your disorder because of things you’ve told them in the past (for example, that you have always been “naturally small” or that you don’t eat certain foods because you are “allergic” to them), just know that the people who matter usually are very understanding, and respond well to honesty.
Have some faith in yourself, and in those around you. People will likely be amazed by the strength and courage you are demonstrating by reaching out and doing what it takes to truly recover from such a difficult and deadly illness!
Now, a question for those of you in recovery: How did you build up courage to begin talking to others about your disorder?
Love, Hope, & Prayers,