“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” I think of this quote often since I officially stepped into the professional world of eating disorders five months ago, a field my dietetics curriculum has covered little of. I am continuously amazed by the power of healing through sharing stories and building a community.
It is not a complicated nor a modern idea, you see. People in the old times couldn’t survive by themselves without living and sharing life closely with a community. But our culture is drifting away from that ancient way of living. I wonder how many of us long for real, heart-deep story sharing, face to face interaction, with tears and laughter and all the messiness of being real. I know I do, and it doesn’t happen often enough. If I would be part of a “not one more” movement. I would wish for a culture shift, a culture that not one more person goes on without a community being there for them.
I came to the US from China as a foreign high school student years ago. Filled with anticipation, fear, and eagerness to somehow fit in a new world. I remember walking through the gigantic parking lot, boys and girls with different hair colors, driving, carrying instruments, hugging, greeting each other, bumping fists, and slapping against each other’s hands. Everything I learned in school about English didn’t seem to apply. There was loneliness in not understanding the words or the gestures. It took me several months to catch up with what people were saying and much longer to remember to say “excuse me” when expected. Although, deep inside, all my imaginative thoughts, stories, and connected ideas piled up. I had very few words to express them. I was lucky, as time passed, I learned to wield the magic of words in the English language, with the help of my ESL community and a couple of nice American students reaching out at times. But during my first year, I felt the loneliness of not having a concrete voice. I also discovered the power of words when they are shared.
As a foreign student with broken language skills, I had my little ESL classroom and classmates here and there who offered me patience and kindness. But so many patients who walk into treatment have barely experienced what that warmth of a community feels like. The cruel companion (their eating disorder) has silenced their voices and choked the words. To regain the skill of living within a society will take hard work, guidance, and a group of people to lean in and on.
Recovery is messy, life is messy. There are times we cannot bring ourselves to believe tomorrow will be a better day, or that recovery is possible. A community is a haven to carry us through the hard times. It can also be a messy place, as we get together to work through our quirks and defenses, we learn the essential skills to navigate a scary world. Being seen or known means more than being around people all day (and night). It takes effort, skills, and a community to meet us where we are. Sometimes, an opportunity for treatment is the first step, so not one more suffers in silence.
At ViaMar Health, our team of experienced, compassionate professionals works with you and your loved ones along the voyage to eating disorder recovery from the point of the first call. We welcome each person at their personal stage of recovery. We provide individualized, integrative, unique, and evidence-based eating disorder treatment in residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient levels of care. We are dedicated to guiding you or your loved one on the recovery voyage.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, you don’t have to go through it alone. Please reach out to us at The Alliance; our team is uniquely qualified to connect you with the support needed to begin your recovery journey. Visit our national, interactive database to find eating disorder treatment near you today or reach out to us for more help and resources.
To learn more about the NOT ONE MORE movement, visit https://www.notonemore.co/.