Thank You for Staying

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Dear Mere,

My bff. My soulmate. The platonic love of my life. My hero. My go-to, always and forever. I love you. I’m thankful for you. It blows my mind that I get to do this life with you.

Last week in therapy, my therapist asked me about the relationships in my life. She wanted to know who my healthiest, most beneficial friendship was with. Without hesitating, I said, “my best friend Meredith.” I went on to explain how amazing and life-giving our friendship is. And I can’t stop thinking about that. About how crazy blessed I am by you. About how wild it is that I’m best friends with a random girl in Virginia. About how much this friendship means to me.

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We were inseparable during treatment. We called ourselves Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Dynamic Duo of CH, and a gazillion other nicknames that made no sense. We joked about ordering walkie-talkies on Amazon after they moved you to a different bedroom so we had to be separated for eight hours each night (complete torture). We begged to be put in Magnolia together downstairs, but they simply laughed at us because they knew we would never sleep if we roomed together again. We made stupid Snapchat videos during phone time making fun of all the weird rules we had to live with (lol @ all my Snapchat friends who were probably so confused by those videos because I had not “come out” about being in treatment yet). We watched Mamma Mia everyday until the DVD mysteriously “disappeared” until the day after we discharged #thanksMegan. We took the trash out together and played some rotten fruit baseball along the way (literally blessed that we never got caught because that was 1000% excessive body movement). We were loud as heck every night snack, but especially on Mondays. The house could barely handle the two of us together.

I’ll never forget that night in the hallway. You know what I’m talking about. If I hadn’t already known it, I knew right then that you’d be my best friend for life. You get me like no one else.

Carolina House discharged us a day apart (convinced they did that simply because they knew one of us couldn’t survive in res without the other). The day you left was one of the saddest days of my life. Saying goodbye and not knowing when I’d see you again after spending every waking moment of the past two months together was a punch in the gut like I’d never felt before. But the best days of our friendship were just beginning when we stepped foot outside of that yellow house.

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We’ve literally been through everything together. Recovery, starting college, navigating life away from home, making friends, almost joining Greek life (lol), falling in love, heartbreaks, friend issues, fighting with each other, happy anniversaries and sad anniversaries. We’ve danced on mountaintops together and cried with each other in deep valleys. We’ve seen it all and yet we’ve both stayed. Through all our arguments, through all the recovery lapses, through all the FaceTimes where all we did was cry. We stayed.

You’ve been the biggest constant in my life over the past year and a half. No matter what, I know that I can text you and vent about anything. It might take a while for you to reply, but you always listen and always always always validate. You’ve taught me what being a true friend looks like. And oh my, you have been the truest friend to me.

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You’ve stayed. And you haven’t ever considered leaving. I’m sitting here crying about that right now because wow, life post-discharge has been so brutiful. Beautiful in all the glory and joy that recovery brings, but brutal because life is just dang hard sometimes. And you’ve stayed through all of it. You have been a constant in my life that I’ve never experienced. I’ve never met someone who has experienced all the deep, dark messy with me and still decided to stay in the exact same position. Except no, you didn’t stay in the same position. You’ve only moved closer. You’ve gotten right in the dirty with me. You’re covered in the mud just as much as I am. You’ve said me too. You’ve said I understand. You’ve said I’m going through this with you. And that blows my mind.

Even when you didn’t have the words, you stayed. Even when I tried to push you away, you stayed. Even when I was less-than-pleasant to be friends with, you stayed. You stayed at times that I don’t even know why you would choose to stay. Your act of staying, of coming close, of getting messy with me has given me courage to stay also. You have selflessly loved me in a way that my words will never be able to explain.

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We are 546.3 miles apart, and yet you’re so present in my life that it feels like we are together everyday. We’ve only seen each other five times since we discharged, but each time we’re together it feels like nothing has changed. It takes someone super special to be able to stay that present when there is so much distance between us. And I’m so thankful that you’ve decided to stay present for me.

Knowing you has been life changing. Getting to walk this road with you has been the biggest blessing in my life. You’ve shown me love, grace, humility, acceptance, bravery, and forgiveness time and time and time again. You walk out your freedom so beautifully. You are my hero. @God, can I be like Mere when I grow up?? You’re a world changer. A truth speaker. A kind listener. A chain breaker. A goodness seeker. A peace bringer. A freedom proclaimer. A radical lover. A life changer.

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I’ve always known that I want to name one of my daughters Meredith. When you came to CH, I remember thinking, “I better like this girl because I don’t want her to screw up this name for me.” Now I am so excited to one day be able to tell my daughter about how she’s named after her beautiful, strong, brave, amazing Aunt Meredith.

I used to never understand recovered people who would say that they are thankful for their eating disorders. But now I do. I’m thankful for my eating disorder because through it I met you. Our paths would have never crossed if we didn’t go to Carolina House when we did. If we hadn’t decided that the risk was worth it to pull out of our senior years and put everything on pause to [hopefully] gain our lives back. The risk was so worth it. We gained our lives back. And we also gained each other.

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Thank you for staying, Mere. By doing that you have loved me in a way that no one else quite has. You jumped in right after me. You stayed with me. And you’re helping me climb back out. You’ve cried with me, screamed with me, and spoken some choice words with me. You’ve also laughed with me, cried tears of joy with me, and had dance parties over the phone with me. You’ve mourned with me and you’ve celebrated with me. You’ve stayed with me.

That means more to me than I could ever say. I love you so incredibly much. I can’t even say how many times I’ve looked at my phone background and said to whoever I was with, “I just love Mere SO much I can’t even handle it.” I don’t know what the heck I did to make God think I deserved you in my life. But I’m so so thankful.

Thank you for staying.

Always.

Thank you.

 

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Dear Ed,

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Today, May 5, 2017, is my one year in recovery. One year ago I walked through the doors of Carolina House and was admitted to their residential program. You can read a blog post about that here (and you can find all my blog posts tagged treatment here too if you’re interested). Reaching the one year mark is weird and hard, but oh so joyful. So today, to celebrate my one year of starting to kick Ed (my eating disorder) to the curb, I’m writing him a letter. If you have never experienced an eating disorder, it may seem weird to you that I personify my eating disorder and call him Ed.  Just roll with it, friends. When there’s something in your head screaming at you, you want to be able to somehow separate it from who you are. So my eating disorder is Ed. And here’s what I have to say to him.


Dear Ed,

I remember when we met. I was 13, and my friend introduced me to the wonderful “comfort” that you bring. First I let you into my life because I wanted to lose weight. Not that I needed to, but I thought it would prove me worthy enough to be friends with the girls at school. Simple enough, right? No. You already had your foot in the door, so you soon began to demand your way. You quickly became my best coping skill, because even though you were slowly beginning to suck the life out of me, you numbed the pain of depression and took the place of self-harm when I had to cope in a “socially acceptable” way, aka not eating. Because dieting is normal and okay for a 13 year old, right? Wrong.

It’s been a long haul with you, Ed. Five years. You saw me throughout half of middle school and all of high school. When I think of my high school years, I don’t remember hanging out with friends during class or on the weekends. Instead, I remember skipping every off campus lunch so that I could sit in the hallway alone – I mean, sit in the hallway with you – and not eat. I remember not going to a single school dance (well, I went to my senior prom for 15 minutes – that counts, right?) because I had isolated myself so much that I had no friends to hang out with. I remember sitting in class, not paying attention to the lesson at all, but instead tallying up calories in my planner and planning my “meals” for the week.

To you, those things might sounds fun. Those are the things that you thrive off of. But to me, those are horrible memories. You took everything from me. Everything. Every good memory that I have since the age of 13 is tainted by you. My first cruise? Tainted. My first prom? Tainted. Every birthday? Tainted. Every event in my life that should have been completely happy and free? Tainted. You took everything from me, and even still, you wanted to take my life. And I’m over it.

I’m over it because I still have the 13 year old girl inside of me who still thinks she’s fat. Who cries when she looks in the mirror. Who wants to crawl out of her body when she feels food settle in her stomach. I’m over it because 13 year old me should have been a happy seventh grader, but instead she was taught to hate herself. That 13 year old girl grew up to be the same 19 year old girl that I am today. And this 19 year old still feels the 13 year old inside of me. And the 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 year olds. I feel all the brokenness. All the jagged pieces that don’t know where to fit. Some days I handle it really well. Some days I can kick you in the balls and go on with my day in freedom. But some days I’m crippled. Because 13 year old me is crippled. Or maybe it’s 17 year old me that’s crippled. But regardless, you broke me for so many years and I’m still trying to fix that.

I want to be able to love myself. Shocking, I know. You told for some long that it’s not possible. But I’m learning that it is possible. It’s more possible to live a successful life of loving myself than it is to live a successful life with you, because guess what. No one can live a successful life but also be tangled up in their eating disorder. But living a life of freedom and happiness while pursuing self-love is so completely possible, so that is what I’m after! I’ve made a lot of progress in the past year. I’ve eaten fear foods and made them my b**** (curse word sorry BUT SO TRUE). I’ve exercised because it makes my body feel good, but I’ve also stopped myself from exercising when I realized I was obsessing over the calories being burned. I’ve bought clothes to fit my new, beautiful recovery body. I’ve let myself cry and be mad at you/my body/my treatment team/food/the world. I’ve screamed. But that’s all part of this thing called living. It’s a new phenomenon to me, because you didn’t let me experience real life. But let me tell you, this life thing is pretty cool.

I know, I know, it hurts to die a slow and painful death. I know because that’s what you were doing to me. While I was malnourished and dying, you were thriving. The closer I got to death the more alive you became. But guess what. My recovery kills you. And it’s a long process. Some days I’m suffocating you, but other days I seem to have you on life support. The life support days are becoming few and far between, thank goodness. Each day I’m able to suffocate you a little more, and this is the control that I need – the control that you claimed to give me, but never did. Even though I claimed to love you for five years of my life, I know that I don’t love you. You love you. I hate you. I want you dead and gone. I want to live, so that means you have to die.

I don’t like you. I know that sometimes I say I’m going to rekindle our relationship, but we never get past the first date. Because it. ain’t. worth. it. You have this thing about making me seem like I’m the bad person, but let me just tell you, YOU are the bad one. You’re the murderer, the thief, the stalker, the crazy ex boyfriend who just won’t let go. And I am done.

I wrote you a letter very similar to this while I was still in treatment. In it I told you, “I’m fighting you now. I won’t stay victim anymore. I won’t give in to your every demand. I’m fighting for life and health, not thinness. So you have to move out of my mind, my values, my meals, my life. I’m changing my life to a life without you.” And WOW past SB was killing it. A life without you is the best life that I’ve ever lived.

I’m glad that I started kicking you out of my life a year ago. I’m glad that the only thing left of you is the occasional overnight bag. I’m excited for when you’re completely gone, but I know that recovery is a process and that healing is not linear. But just let me tell you, just because you have an overnight bag packed and ready to go does not mean that you still have power and ownership over me. YOU ARE GONE, SIR. You are powerless over me because now I have power over you.

So, just to remind you, you suck. It’s not me, it’s 1000% you. Five years with you was not fun, but this past year without you has been amazing. So don’t bother coming back. You’re still not welcome here and never will be again. I still hate you, and you’re still a scum-bag. You’re a bully, you’re controlling, and you deserve to die. I don’t need your fake love anymore.

Goodbye, Ed.

Sincerely,

Sarah Beth

PS. Did I mention that I hate you?

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