How can I stop being jealous of my sick friend?
August 23, 2011 3:15 PM Subscribe
My friend is sick. Really, truly ill. How can I support her while constantly dealing with my broken-brained issues regarding body image?
posted by kataclysm to Human Relations (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
So, this is so incredibly fucked-up that I am actually embarrassed about posting an AskMe about it. But, there you go.
I have a dear friend who suffers from a chronic illness. Recently, she's suffered a severe setback. She's dropped a lot of weight and looks frail and emaciated -- because she *is* frail and emaciated. I have been trying my best to be there for her, visiting her when she's in the hospital, helping watch her kids when I'm able to do so, etc. We are each others' closest friends, and I love her dearly.
Here is my personal problem, which I fully realize is secondary to the larger problem of my best friend's illness. I have weird issues around body image and eating and stuff and when I was younger, I suffered from what was probably an eating disorder. I am in no way an unhealthy weight or anything like that; I realize that to other people I look like I am on the slender side of average. However, I generally think I look dreadful, which isn't helped by the fact that I gained 7 pounds over the summer, which has fucked with my head really badly. My friend and I used to be precisely the same size, and that helped a lot because I knew what she looked like, and that helped to reassure me that I wasn't actually secretly fat. So, I know it is horrible, and I feel so amazingly guilty about this, but I am actually in some fucked-up way jealous of my friend for having a life-threatening illness that has left her disabled and unable to leave her home. Because she is now so thin.
And I'm working on that stupid broken part of my brain that only wants to lose 'another 10 pounds' and doesn't care that my body works and runs races and is healthy and does what I want it to. The problem isn't how to fix me, I've been working on fixing me for a decade and I'm still not all the way fixed. The problem is now how to ignore my crazy enough to keep being there for my friend. Because if she's crying because she can't eat and they're afraid they're going to have to put her on a feeding tube, or she's horrified because her size-0 clothes are falling off her body, how the hell can I tell her that I can't talk about this stuff with her (because it makes me acutely aware of my superfluous flesh and causes me to want to stop eating)? It would hurt her so badly and she doesn't need to think about my crap right now, all she should be thinking about is how much she is loved. And, like I said, I'm her best friend. I'm one of the (very few) people she turns to when she's afraid and needs someone to talk to. I am acutely aware that my friend's terrible illness is not and should not be about me. But my dumb brain is trying really hard to make it that way, and I need some advice on how to shut it up for a few hours a week so I can keep being a good friend to someone who means the world to me.