If you are recovering from an eating disorder, whether it is bulimia, anorexia, compulsive overeating or binge eating, you are probably experiencing some upheaval in your personal relationships. You may not understand why your behavior and preferences in recovery are so upsetting to people in your life. And you may be surprised, bewildered or feel guilty when you want to pull away from people who used to be close friends.

When a person is seriously ill with her eating disorder, the people who are close to her accept or are attracted to or need her as she is. That means many people are close to her, not despite her eating disorder, but because of her eating disorder.

Some people see through your symptoms to the genuine person you are. They are treasures in your life and will be loyal friends. Others need your symptoms and, therefore, need you to remain ill.

Changes in recovery

Everyone who has a relationship with a person who suffers from an eating disorder is in a relationship with a sick person. If that person is you, then when you start to get well, your attitudes, choices and responses change. You are more caring and respectful of yourself. You resist sacrificing your personal resources (time, money, skills, energy) because you no longer believe that others are more important than you. You begin to use your resources to make your own dreams come true, dreams you didn't know you had because they were buried by the eating disorder.

You no longer engage is high risk behavior for thrills or because you are going along with everyone else and are numb to your fears. You feel. You regain your mind. You have opinions. You have a point of view. You matter to yourself. You say, "No," where you used to say, "Yes."

Objections to Health

The people in your life who wanted all the qualities that attend an eating disorder may object to the change toward health in your life. They can be ruffled, disappointed and then hurt and angry as you develop more self esteem and become more healthy. If they can grow themselves and accept your healthy attitudes then the relationships change and grow.

If they cannot grow and adapt, if they need a relationship with a person who goes numb, who says yes, who sacrifices and feels guilty and responsible for other people's needs, then they will grow both resentful and bored.

If you do not go back to how you were when you were ill so the relationship is the same as it ever was, the relationship will fall apart.

If you are truly in recovery, you will not or cannot go back to your illness to support people who require a self sacrificing person to fulfill their needs.

Getting Better and Gaining Friends

If this is you now, then just wait and live your life in recovery. People who are attracted to health will be attracted to you. People who have their own solid self esteem and are willing to be responsible for themselves will become visible to you as you become visible to them.

In recovery and growing health, you have more choices and can have more satisfying relationships based on who you are now.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Joanna and I have thought of myself as a writer since I was eight years old. When I was 13 I developed an eating disorder, bulimia, and suffered for many years. In high school I wrote a newspaper column for the local paper and worked on the school paper in high school and college. When I found recovery for my bulimia I was already a psychotherapist and dedicated my private practice to eating disorder recovery. Now I find that I am writing about eating disorder recovery as part my commitment to not only heal but prevent eating disorders. Conari Press gave me a contract to write a self help book on eating disorder recovery for adult women. I love how my long held passions and commitments are coming together. I have a private practice in Los Angeles, where I specialize in working with people who want eating disorder recovery and who want a satisfying and successful life beyond recovery.

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