A Tale of a Bettered Self

For the time being, this is my final story.

We met while in treatment for eating disorders. Mine is not one of the two standard disorders, so when I meet someone with the same disorder, I feel like there is a strange bond. There is a form of friendship that comes from shared pain. This is a bond that I share with him.

When we first met, I was intimidated by him. True, he seemed very uncomfortable with everyone around, but he was smiling and would flash to an easy-going manner when he spoke to one friend. I was surprised to see someone change their persona so immediately; it seemed natural to him, too.

In my first month, I decided he was a very good candidate for a friend. At some point, I started teaching him to sign. For me, that was a major step. I love signing; it is a special, silent way to communicate. As a person who has been quiet for my whole life, having a way to intentionally allow my quietness is incredible. I don't teach people how to sign unless I feel that I can trust them. That was the first thing that everyone else noticed. My close gaggle all mentioned that it was cute that we would sign to each other. The girls thought it meant I had a thing for him. Despite the facts that I now know, I denied that idea, as I didn't want to like anyone.

My intention for being in treatment was to focus on myself, it was to get myself to a medically safe place so I could start working on my mental health. I wanted to have that time to care about myself. It was a time that I had decided was perfect for selfishness. What I did not expect was to meet someone who made my hearth flutter.

For a little while, I was stuck in my room with a feeding tube up my nose. I was in my room because I was so anxious about possibly throwing up that I nearly did any time I swallowed. Being in my room was a cautionary measure to help me manage my anxiety. It was also terribly lonely. I depended on the kindness of others to have any social interaction. There were a few friends who stopped by every single day, sometimes multiple times. That was wonderful, since they would talk to me and not need me to respond (speaking with the tube in place was also very anxiety provoking for me). He visited me twice in the week that I was on house-arrest. But, he also said good morning every day and usually popped in to say good night. I appreciated every moment I had with someone around, and especially with him, because I felt that seeing the tube brought up some very uncomfortable feelings for him.

At one point, he was transferred away, and it became evident to everyone who remained that I was deeply impacted. Since my vice is an eating disorder, when I experienced the unfamiliar emotions that accompany the apparent loss of someone, my eating patterns were disrupted. It took me a good two weeks to get myself solidly back on track. Within a month, I was completing my meals and snacks and maintaining my healthy size.

I overheard a conversation from the staff. They were talking in the middle of a meal about a past patient. When they said his name, I started actually listening, intentionally. They mentioned his weight and the fact that he'd been doing so well, he was transferring back to that facility. I was sorta happy to hear that he was coming back. But I was also furious. There was a major HIPPA violation in that conversation. Also, there was no need for them to state his weight. That was in an eating disorder treatment facility. Weights, and numbers in general, can be very triggering for some people's disorders. I was just pissed that they would so flippantly state such personal information.

Anyway, I figured if they were willing to chat about that stuff, he wasn't actually coming back. I tried to believe that. But a few days later, one of my friends said that she'd seen his file in an office. She said he was coming back that day. And when I went to chat with her an hour after breakfast, lo, and behold… he was sitting in the community room.

With his return, I freaked out, again. I managed to keep my eating habits mostly steady, but I was spastic for a few days. I was ecstatic to see him again, and extremely nervous. Just before he had left, someone told him how I felt about him. We hadn't spoken since, and I was unsure as to how he responded: thinking it was a joke, taking it seriously, agreeing, disagreeing. I wasn't even positive that he would remember. I hoped that he didn't.

When the time came for him to actually go home, I finally worked up the ability to ask about what the other patient had said about me. When he stated that he remembered, I simply spouted off a few expletives and walked away. That was definitely not my most graceful moment.

Even so, he still spoke to me rather often until he left. When he left, I tried to resign myself to the idea that I wouldn't speak to him again. That idea has yet to settle in my mind.

My love for this friend is strange to me. I have never formed a sense of love so quickly, nor have I ever admitted to a love so soon. It has been my pattern to resist feelings for as long as possible, yet in this one case, I admitted nearly as soon as I recognized what I felt. It still took me a good month to realize that I was attracted to him, but that can be compared to a standard of a year in an uncertain phase.