The Vine: May 23, 2000
I have a problem with eating . . . I suppose you'd call me anorexic, although I don't like to put it like that because it's kind of embarrassing and weird. But recently it's gotten kind of bad. I lost twenty pounds, have bones showing . . . but I'm eating. See, my best friend (I'll refer to her as "Jane") makes me eat and has been trying to help me for a long time now, but today she went and told a counselor at our school about it. I'd asked her to keep it a secret, it's not something I like to talk about, but within the next few days I'm getting pulled out of class and talked to by intervention counselors (Jane told me all this to prepare me so the shock wouldn't be so bad).
So . . . I guess the advice I'm asking for is what should I do? I don't want to talk to these people, but it doesn't look like I have much choice. And I don't want to be angry at my friend, but I am in a way, and I feel guilty about that. Is it normal to be this upset with someone who's just trying to help?
Stuck between a rock and a hard place
I think it's normal for you to have gotten upset with Jane. None of us likes to have our flaws pointed out, especially flaws we've tried to keep hidden or not deal with, and getting defensive and angry is totally natural. You'd hoped to keep your "problem with eating" off the radar screen, and you feel betrayed. A long time ago, a friend of mine and I pulled a Jane on a third friend of ours who had bulimia, turning her into the school psychologist. She couldn't believe we'd ratted her out, and she took both our heads off.
But I'd do it again. The girl had a serious problem, we didn't see anything getting done about it, and we couldn't watch her flounder anymore. After you calm down a bit, think how your friend must have felt. She's watching you starve yourself and do possibly irreparable damage to your health, for starters, and on top of that she's got to keep your secret from everyone. That's asking too much of her. She cares about you, she realized she was in over her head trying to help you on her own, and she did what she thought would help you. She tried to get help for you because she cares about you. Try to forgive her.
And talk to the counselors. Anorexia, as I imagine you know, isn't about food; it's about control and poor self-esteem, and you should talk to a professional who can help you sort those issues out before you do irreversible harm to yourself physically. Therapy isn't a barrel of monkeys, especially at first, but it can set you free from this eating disorder and let you lead a happier life.
Good luck to you.
Tags: health and beauty