When I was 14, a year before my mother passed away and my eating disorder developed, I had a friend who was on the thin side. I’d say at the time, coming from a very small hick town, there were four of us. Maybe not eating disordered, but underweight, and although I’m forgetting most of the names of people I went to school with, if you asked me now, I could still tell you all three of their names, first and last. We definitely were the skinniest in the entire school, and I always had an underlying resentment towards them, even before I ever knew I already had been exhibiting eating disorder behavior for two years.
So, at 14, a freshman in high school, back when getting your navel pierced was all the rage, my friend’s mom wouldn’t allow her to get it done until she gained weight. It was a condition, and I remember the girls in school chanting, “EAT, EAT, EAT!” during lunch, because she needed to gain at least ten pounds.
I didn’t think it was a weird condition. I just thought she was naturally thin, and that her mother thought it looked unhealthy, and that this would be a good way to finally get her daughter to put on some weight.
But she never did manage to gain the weight she needed and her mom let her get her navel pierced anyway.
And when I developed Anorexia Nervosa at 15, she was the only person who called me to see if I was eating, and could tell that when I said yes, that I was lying, and that she was worried about me.
Then at 22, when I had found recovery in the 12-steps, she Facebooked me after not talking in five years and confessed to me that she had Anorexia Nervosa in high school and asked me how I managed to overcome it.
And my first reaction was not to be concerned, but to be jealous, because I was convinced I was the only girl there who had an eating disorder (a real eating disorder), and the fact that she must have still been struggling, triggered me. But I didn’t let her know it — I suggested the 12-step program, treatment programs, and The Anorexia Workbook , none of which she probably followed through with.
I would subsequently check her Facebook from time to time, refusing to friend her, but desperate to see her pictures, just to make sure she wasn’t thinner than me. That only stopped when she got rid of her Facebook completely.
I’ve always been that way, wanting to be the only, the best, the sickest. I don’t know how she’s doing now, but maybe that’s for the best.