Monte Nido & Affiliates Education Training Manger Jacquie Rangel shares a heartfelt letter to her younger brother in this week’s blog post. Read Jacquie’s moving post about her eating disorder recovery journey and her love and appreciation for her brother.
You are one incredible human. I don’t think you know how lucky it is to have you as a sibling. You’ve been my youngest brother since I was seven-years-old and I find more and more that I have so much to learn from the way you are in the world. Though the lessons you have to offer now lay in other spheres of my life, I will never forget all that you taught me about supporting a person through an eating disorder. Your persistent belief in recovery has helped me heal myself and has served as inspiration as I help others who are committed to healing themselves.
I’ll never forget the winter break I came back from my freshman year – the point I was unable to hide my eating disorder any long. I remember witnessing the blend of excitement and confusion in your eyes. You knew it was me, but not quite the same person you were counting on for stories about University life. I remember flinching when someone at school commented on my weight from afar. You didn’t know what an eating disorder was, but you knew the change in my demeanor and my lack of energy was somehow linked to the change in my body. I remember you bringing me a pair of your pants to try on and standing firm in your insistence when I told you that was a ridiculous idea. I remember the gentle look of compassion you gave me when I realized I was able to slide them on easily- finally seeing myself clearly.
Fast forward to next year when you barreled through the doors of Oliver-Pyatt Centers to spend time with me on YOUR birthday, not even deterred by the fact that you were spending part of the day in a treatment center. I know it hurt you when I snapped because you starting talking about birthday cake, but you kept a smile on your face and the conversation upbeat. That afternoon Mom told me you had been up the night before researching everything you could about eating disorders and what you should and shouldn’t say to a person in the thick of it. At just 12 years old!
Giving it some thought, it isn’t actually surprising that it was a child who was able to get through to the part of me who was ready to fight. While other people in my life were coming at me with data, pleading and frustration you approached me with the age-appropriate curiosity of a child. It’s a tactic we easily forget about as adults because we try to come in with our version of the answer to the “problem”. The issue with this method is that we make assumptions rather than trying to hear a person who ultimately feels very unseen. To this day, whether you’re doing work leading your chapter of Project Heal at American University, advocating with the Eating Disorder Coalition on Capitol Hill or up late discussing your concern for a friend whose eating patterns raise concern, you maintain your unquenchable and open-minded curiosity. You ask questions non-judgmentally, you listen attentively to the response and you adapt your understanding as you learn.
Feli, I can’t thank you enough. You’ve been a beacon of light for me when I was lost and you’ve been here on the other side to appreciate the finer details of life beyond an eating disorder. Stay curious, stay hopeful and keep your heart open, brother.