Food Fights and Friends

I often think about one of my high school cross country teammates who may have dealt with an eating disorder. I couldn’t understand it at all back then and tried to encourage her to eat foods like cheese (“It has calcium for strong bones!”) but our discussions never went much beyond that. I didn’t know how to help her, and she never fully confessed to me about her possible eating disorder anyway. I only know from mutterings here and there that she had some nutritional issues and couldn’t race a few times because of it. I can only guess that if we had talked about it more, I would still have been at a loss as to what to do for her. Thus I believe it takes a very special person to have sympathy and patience for someone with an eating disorder. This post hopefully not only gives insight into what it takes to be a supportive friend, but it is also a thank-you to the amazing people in my life who have been there for me with my own experiences with the eating disorder.
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Me, Alina, Rachel

The Blunt Supporter
Rachel was with me from the very beginning. She not only watched as I ate plates high with vegetables, but she defended me in my mono-meal-banana eating frenzies and lived with me over the summer of 2011 as I struggled to stay raw. It was difficult for me to tell her about what was really going on with my obsession because I was worried about what she would think about me, but once we did talk more she certainly tried to be there for me. The two of us got in some arguments over where I was coming from and why (to be explained in detail in the book), and it wasn’t until months after our disagreements and frustrations that I had begun to see what she was talking about and that she addressed these issues because she cared. Even now when she says how proud she is of me and continually supports this blog, I can’t express how much that means to me because I value her thoughts and support.
The Silent Supporters
Sometimes the smallest of friends come with the biggest of hearts. It wasn’t until further along in my ED recovery that two younger teammates (each probably a foot shorter than me, haha) came along and gave me a sense of belonging, peace, and confidence. I think we actually thrive a lot off of each other (sometimes I feel like a motherly figure for them, and they are constantly supporting and encouraging me). We haven’t talk much about my eating disorder but it is their actions that speak louder than words. They came to my reading about my eating disorder at school, they often invite me to the cafeteria when it still feels embarrassing for me to express that I am hungry, and they even congratulated me on eating pasta for the first time in years and understood WHAT A BIG DEAL that was for me.

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Ashlee and Kathy—thank you.
The Soul Supporter
And then there’s Alina—the one who was always there to listen, always there to talk when I needed it. She has gone above and beyond what anyone would ask from a friend, and she was there to bring everything out of me. Alina probably understands me more than anyone because we are alike in our perfectionist tendencies. I think we have learned a lot from each other just by talking, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for being there for me no matter what. She told me the other day that some younger kids accidentally called her “Angelina.” I think that “Angel” part fits perfectly. ;)
Of course there are many more people in my life who have supported from afar, and I thank those of you for that. Every little bit of encouragement, understanding, and support helps, and I thank you for the comments, messages, etc that I have received over the past few years.

About Rachael

Rachael Steil is a graduate from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts. Steil an author, speaker, and a recipient of the Spirit and Outstanding Runner award for the Aquinas College cross country team and has received 6th place All-American accolades in cross country as well as 7th place in the NAIA track nationals.
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10 Responses to Food Fights and Friends

  1. Rachel says:

    I lol’d at my moniker: “The Blunt Supporter.” I am proud to say that I have also learned a lot from your “Soul Supporter” and taken the bluntness down a notch or two. ;) I’m always here for ya, Rach. Love ya!

    • rachael says:

      Hahaha :) I hoped you wouldn’t be offended or anything. It’s good to have different friends for different parts. ;) Love you!

  2. Kelli Burns says:

    I understand how important it is to have people support you, especially when you know they care about you so much. I really like how you mentioned their support and care while you deal with eating disorders, but that’s not all they support you on. I like how important they are in your life for a multitude of reasons and you mentioned those other ones as well.

  3. Ryanne James says:

    I honestly am very interested in the book you are writing about all of this. This thank you is absolutely beautiful, and I enjoy how you can easily put yourself in both pairs of shoes on both perspectives of an eating disorder. I think it is great that you have gratitude of the little gestures your friends would make for you. Support is essential to anything illness and I am glad that you had professional formal support, but also support through people who you clearly care about. I think personal relationships can help people the most. It is even more heart warming that Ashlee and Kathy did not even realize how gravely they impacted you just by inviting you to have dinner with them. I enjoy reading a sweet snip-it of this inner peace you are creating.

  4. Katy Caballeros says:

    I like how you categorize your friends by the types of support they offer; this caused me to reflect on the people in my life and the different ways they offer me support. It also caused me to reflect on the kind of support I offer others. I’m definitely not the blunt supporter; being that direct with others makes me anxious. I wouldn’t say I’m a soul supporter either. I prefer to be the silent supporter, ready with encouragement and smiles but not necessarily able to offer advice. I think creating these categories was an effective way to engage the reader. People love to categorize themselves and affirm their identity, as proven by the popularity of astrology and the Myers-Briggs test. I wouldn’t mind reading about the other types of supporters in your life!

  5. Regan Levitte says:

    I love this public thank you! I think that thanks are always due, and to post them on the internet is something that does not happen as often as it should. I like how you give your friends nicknames, and especially that you give credits to Ashlee and Kathy for their actions, not just their words.

    I am quickly becoming very interested in your book! If you need an outside reader, or a consult at the writing center on it, let me know! ;)

  6. Gillian Hurley says:

    Like Regan, I want to get my hands on this book. I think it’s so important to recognize friendship and all of its wonderful capacities. Friendship, true friendship, is more rare than all of us would like to believe. I’m happy to hear that you’ve had such huge support all along the way. It probably comes from your willingness to be honest and face your challenges head on and from being a great friend yourself. Great post!

  7. Peter Triezenberg says:

    I found myself really touched by this post- your heartfelt acknowledgement of the importance of supportive friends during times of turmoil, as well as your direct gratitude towards these individuals. And as others have said, color me interested in the book!

  8. Joe Slomski says:

    It’s refreshing to see the impact your friends have had on you, as well as how supportive they’ve been. It’s good to know that there are people out there who will help you when you need it.

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