Not One More | Timberline Knolls
Not one more family without hope.
This message is for you: the mother, father, spouse, partner, brother, or sister…The loved one walking every day alongside someone who is struggling to recover from an eating disorder. You are not alone when at various stages on this journey you have felt it difficult to hold on to hope, and felt the tug of despair. You are not alone when you have felt scared, angry, frustrated, disappointed, unseen, confused and or at your wits end.
It can be easy to lose sight of hope on the winding way to healing. Eating disorders are devastating illnesses that seem to rip your loved one further and further away, even when you are trying to do your best to help. Please know, as this author has recovered from an eating disorder herself, that your daughter, your wife, your partner, your sibling, is embarking on one of the most terrifying journey’s they will perhaps every undertake: shedding an entire belief system, reconstructing a life, and taking the deep dive into their own heart and soul to uncover wounds, re-wire entire thought patterns established over years, and begin to believe anew in themselves, their own strength, and capacity to take care of themselves. Your loved one is still there, underneath. They are fighting a battle for their physical body and their very soul. They are still there, and are nurturing a small flame of hope inside of them. Even if they appear in denial, the voice of their healthy self is nudging them on slowly, and it is you who can help them find and strengthen that voice.
As the caregiver or loved one supporting someone in recovery, one of the most powerful things you can do is hold the spark of hope for them when they cannot, remind them that is there, and fan it into a larger flame. Even, and especially when, the road is darkest. You cannot do the work for them, but you can walk alongside and light the way, even when your own candle is dim.
First, believe in your loved one. Tell them frequently: that you believe they can do it, that they can find healing. Reassure them that your love is not dependent on their healing or recovery or performance of “good” behaviors or “eating right.” Listen when they need to speak, let them be silent when they cannot find the words for their pain. Hug them. Let them rest when the world is too much. Resist the urge to fix them or rush their journey. Breathe and allow them to find their path. Walk alongside, and help light the way.
Hold hope in your heart for your loved one. This is the greatest gift, the greatest help you can provide. You may experience moments and times of despair… when you do, seek support. This can look like a parent or family support group, or your own therapist or counselor. Holding hope for someone you love while they struggle can be overwhelming, but you are not alone in the fight. Seek the resources that you need and you will be empowered to heal your own wounds, as well as with strength to hold on to the fire of hope.
When you connect with other parents, families, and resources, you find strength in the fact that many have walked this road before you, and have found their way to healing. You can have hope. There are countless families who have found themselves confronted with this darkness, have fought the battle in front of them with determination and perseverance and come out on the other side to freedom. Full recovery is possible. You are not without hope.
So to you, dear mother, brother, sister, friend, hear this: there is hope! Keep going. When the path seems dim, or you do not know which way to turn, come back to the present moment and choose hope. Especially when your loved one cannot see it for themselves. Trust that through your love, through your unconditional support, and through the resources that are there to support you, you will make it through this – alive, free, and whole. Although the way is complex and different for each family, hope is always there, like a beacon to guide you. So, guard and protect that flame, recruit others so that it cannot be extinguished, and know that you are not alone. Full recovery and healing is possible; there is always hope.
Kirsten Müller-Daubermann is an international speaker, mental health advocate and digital media strategist. She serves as the Community Relations Specialist for Timberline Knolls and as Founder and President of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation. She served as Miss America 2008. Kirsten is also the host of “Honest Talk,” Timberline Knolls’ Instagram LIVE interview series @timberlinetoday. Kirsten studied musical theatre performance at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), and graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Political Science. She is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland. For more information about Timberline Knolls, please visit: timberlineknolls.com.