Keeping It Secret

Don’t tell my mother, or I’ll never speak to you again. If you tell Kris, I swear I’ll kill you.

What do we do when we hear our loved one(s) demand that we keep their eating disorder a secret? It’s a common situation. And it can feel like a stubborn, dead-end dilemma for family and friends.

It’s the last day of this year’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week; a good time to talk about secrets. After all, awareness and secrecy are pretty close to being opposites.

An eating disorder is usually zealous about secrets. Why? Because secrecy helps the eating disorder to stay safe and thrive. The more ways it can hide, the better it likes things.

No wonder the eating disorder lashes out at others, like you, when its secrets are threatened.

But those threats, insults, etc. don’t have to paint us into a corner.

“Wait a minute!” you might say. “Shouldn’t I respect that request? What else could do I do when demands for secrecy come out of my loved one’s mouth?”

Consider asking yourself these questions:

  1. Is there any chance that this demand is coming from the eating disorder, more than, or instead of, the person you love?*
  2. Is keeping the secret going to help and/or serve the eating disorder?**
  3. Is keeping the secret going to help and/or serve you?***

* If so: You’re not obligated to honor such a demand.

** If so: You’re not obligated to honor such a demand.

*** If not:  You’re not obligated to honor such a demand.

Two more things to consider. The odds are good that:

  • Your other relatives or friends know (or sense) that something is wrong; so the eating disorder isn’t really much of a secret anyway.
  • You need and deserve help and support from other relatives and friends. The eating disorder has no right to decide whether or not you get it.

Which brings us around to the theme for this year’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Come As You Are.

To help yourself and to support your loved one’s recovery, it’s wise to come as you are, not as the eating disorder wants you to be. Rather than following the disorder’s demands, you can be an ally for yourself and for the authentic person you love.

#ComeAsYouAre

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