• Maggie Dunsford

Dear Best Friend

Dear Jenny,

We’ve both come a long way since we first met. The day we met is one I remember well, mostly because at the time, it was the most terrifying day I’d lived through. I was nervous, of course I was nervous. Each step I took into this strange place with happy yellow colored walls and positive affirmations smattered throughout was a step toward letting go of my eating disorder.

I don’t remember if you were the first person to talk to me in there. I just remember standing in line with a bunch of other girls (and one young boy) for “weigh in” according to the binder I was giving, which contained a schedule of my days for the next who knew how long. The days consisted of getting weighed, eating, and talking about our feelings as far as I could tell.

I’m sure I looked anxious as I waited. Everyone else seemed to already had friends and I was worried not only about my weight as compared to everyone else’s, but also if I would be liked.

“Is this your first time in treatment?” You asked. I snapped my head up, surprised.

“Yes,” I said plainly. I think you nodded, and maybe you said something else, but I don’t remember. At that moment the last thing I wanted to do was talk, but I’m grateful that someone noticed me that day.

Since that interaction three years ago, you’ve become an integral part of my life. My best friend, practically my sister. We’ve both been through a lot, and I’m sad we were forced to grow up and become adult before our time. I’m sad we both lived through circumstances that made treatment necessary. I’m sad we both lived (and continue to live) through the hell of having an eating disorder.

And as sad as I am about all of this, I’m also glad that we were brought together and could relate to each other in ways most people couldn’t. I finally had a friend who I could turn to when I was struggling who wouldn’t say something akin to “just eat.” I had a friend I could make morbid jokes that would make others uncomfortable, because humor is unsurprisingly a great coping mechanism.

One thing that we understand better than anyone who doesn’t have eating disorder could understand is that recovery isn’t a trip from point A to B, from “sick” to “recovered.” Recovery isn’t about “just eating” or doing some yoga and praying to some deity and being fixed.

Recovery is messy and not always pretty or easy and sometimes it involves mishaps and setbacks. And because of that, I realize that as much as I wish you would see yourself as completely beautiful all of the time, I realize that’s not going to happen. Just as I’m sure you think the exact same thing about me sometimes. We’re both healing still, but I’m glad I have you to heal besides.

It’s been three years since I entered treatment and met you, and you’ve continued to be an amazing friend to me without fail. We’ve been through our respective ups and downs, and we’ve been through a lot of changes. And despite that, you’ve remained my best friend throughout it all.

I love you and I’m glad I have a friend that I’m completely certain will be here for the rest of my life. Someday we’ll be 80 years old in a nursing home together and during meal times one of us will inevitable make an eating disorder joke. I know we’re both gonna struggle sometimes, but I know with equal assurance that we’re gonna make it through.

You deserve to feel beautiful, you deserve happiness, and you deserve recovery.

Your friend


Image: Indiana Suicide Prevention Conference

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