Topic Tuesday: Support

Katie G Picture“I Found My People” (By: Katie Goenner)
I clearly remember the chilling evening in December 2014, I pulled up along the curb across the street from a non-descript brick building after work trying to convince myself I should get out of the car. Anxious thoughts flooded my brain, “What if everyone stares at me? What if they’ll wonder why I’m there? What if I don’t look ‘sick’ enough and everyone thinks I’m being selfish and just looking for attention?!” That particular notion plagued me for many years and kept me far away from ever seeking help, let alone talk about my eating disorder.

I don’t know how I managed to get out of the car other than to say I put one foot in front of the other. No lie, I literally tiptoed across the street, up the dingy yellowy-brown carpeted stairs half searching for room 204, secretly hoping no one would notice me and if I were really lucky, no such meeting would exist. Well, apparently finding it was meant to be because I left that evening feeling a bundle of feelings – shocked, dumbfounded, relieved, anxious, even happy to have found this group. Sure, we all looked different, came from different walks of life; some spoke more and some not at all, but so many shared my exact fears: the hatred of this disease, the constant worry of being disliked, never feeling ‘good’ enough, and feeling terribly uncomfortable in my own skin.

During that first meeting, I also noticed a young woman across from me that reminded me of me. It was also her first meeting, she had a set of twins and a third child, and, like me, was very uncertain if a support group was where she wanted to be. When the next Thursday meeting rolled around I was unsure about going back but I told myself that if that girl from the last meeting could force herself out of her comfort zone to go, I could do it too. In a way, I convinced myself that I had to go because I couldn’t let her down; perhaps she needed me as much as I needed her? Sure enough, she was there the next week and the next, and the next. In fact, a bunch of us all started meeting at Starbucks to grab coffees before meetings and even created a closed Facebook page to keep tabs on each other. Meetings and Facebook posts and coffee gatherings weren’t just for sharing the lousy times but were also a safe place to share the things we were proud of with each other. If ever I was looking for a group of cheerleaders to tell me how proud of me they were for ignoring a disordered thought or giving me advice to help shake off some of my worst days, these were my people. Upon leaving that first night, and the many nights that followed, I was finally feeling a little less alone and a little more understood.