On “Safe Meals” and Friendship

Phyllis Nissila

My friend “Lily” is seeing an eating disorder specialist. Lily continues to process through the residual effects of sexual molestation that occurred over a period of time when she was a very young child. She’s done everything she can so far to regain health. At times, however, she still assuages the pain of mental or emotional flashbacks by binging and purging.

Because Lily is in the midst of a key stage of recovery the temptation to binge and purge is particularly strong. Like other destructive coping mechanisms, the eating disorder provides comfort of sorts, but it is also dangerous.

This week, Lily’s therapist insisted they eat a meal together because my friend is too thin. So a few days ago Lily joined her therapist for lunch. Right there in the office. Good, nourishing food in a pleasant, safe surrounding. An unhurried, relaxing meal–not an eating frenzy to dull the fear and pain and later, to purge.

As Lily works through this phase of her recovery she and I will continue our frequent phone conversations where she tells me what she is making for dinner (she is a fantastic cook) and what I could make (I am not a fantastic cook). We will talk about wholesome food presented with flare and about other things, too. But in all of this we both know what else we are accomplishing.

Lily is reinforcing normal emotions around eating, and she is progressing to the next level of wellness.  And I get the chance to cheerlead my friend, wanting her success even as I want—no, need—to know for myself that if evil of the caliber Lily endured ensnares me in some afternoon or night of terrible discovery, recovery is possible without fighting danger with more danger.

I write this today in support of the next chapter of my friend’s health. I honor her courage, her resiliency, and her capacity for forgiveness. Her hard won successes remind me there is hope, even if progress is measured in small amounts, sometimes by a single, safe meal.

So thank you for reading. Say a prayer for Lily and perhaps for a friend of yours who is hurting. Have lunch with him or with her, a little bruschetta with soft cheese and smoked salmon, perhaps, or simply peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a safe, pleasant place surrounded by the warmth of your friendship. You never know. It could help.

Photo from the public domain: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/hledej.php?hleda=bruschetta+with+soft+cheese+and+smoked+salmon

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1 Response to On “Safe Meals” and Friendship

  1. Pingback: Bon Appetit! (Writing Prompt) | Write where you are.

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