No, this is not a self-depreciating post. Instead, I am objectively focusing on the facts and reasons why I could be a much better friend.
When I think of the qualities I would like in a friend, I go to past or current relationships and what made them meaningful. One of the most important aspects of friendship to me is that we are there for each other: to listen, give advice, motivate, and sometimes provide tough love. I don’t want to feel like I’m always taking, nor do I enjoy feeling like all is being dumped on me. There’s a balance that allows for a healthier friendship where each person is cared for. Another quality I value is honesty and authenticity. I want to feel safe to open up and be accepted for who I am. Spending quality time together is also important, even if that just means Skype calls every once in a while. This is the part of friendship that makes me feel connected and happy. It’s truly a blessing to get together with others. Consistency is an aspects that I’ve had trouble with in the past. I remember my mom describing someone in elementary school as a “fair weather friend,” someone who is there when it’s convenient for her or when no one else is around. This only leads to me feeling alone, which is pretty shitty when you expect to be close to a friend. Respect matters in any relationship. There are various areas where this comes into play, from viewpoints to lifestyle. I want to note that I absolutely do not expect anyone ever to meet all of these qualities. They aren’t full on requirements truly. I have never found someone perfect which is 10000% okay. There is no need to be perfect for someone to be an amazing friend.
Now that I’ve explained some of what I look for, it’s time to talk about how I often fail to meet these areas. Specifically, I am the worst friend when I am deep into the eating disorder, like where I am currently. I am unable to invest in the other person when I’m struggling so much. If I do end up sharing, I feel like a burden because of the sheer amount of stuff I have to unpack. I am rarely honest or real about what I’m going through. There are some people who know, but others I stay away from it entirely. This makes things more surface level and impersonal. I get that not every person is going to be right to share with, but I think as a whole I need to work on vulnerability more. I isolate all the time. I haven’t even spent an afternoon in the library or anything like that. I start feeling pretty low about myself and also avoid any situation with a .2% chance of food being involved. I have little consistency. I can go weeks or longer without so much as a hello text. Usually I don’t initiate contact, which I’m sure is frustrating on the other side. One area I don’t lack in regardless is respect. It has a lot of value whether I’m in a bad place or not.
I don’t want to use the ED as a scapegoat. No matter how much I’m struggling, it isn’t the sole cause of any negative consequences. The thing that actually affects my ability to be a good friend is my mental state. If I am withdrawn, depressed, anxious, and full of guilt/shame, how could I give to someone else? Just like when I am physically sick, mental and emotional exhaustion takes a toll on my relationships. Some of this is specific to the ED, like avoiding social gatherings, but the rest just isn’t.
I don’t want to consider myself a bad person because of the situation I’ve been in. I know this isn’t the real me. My values are completely the opposite of how I’m acting. If I can work through these things and be healthier, I will give more into my friendships. It happened when I was further into recovery before and I believe I’ll get there again.