How my Younger Sister Helped Me in my Recovery

My sister Jenna and I are four years apart. I am the older sister and she is the younger sister. Even though we're four years apart in age we never acted like that in our relationship. We've been very close to one another. I love her dearly and I am her biggest fan. I always want her to succeed more than me. Over the years we've grown closer even with being at different stages of our lives. We're each others' best friends. When I was diagnosed with my eating disorder on March 1st, 2019 and began recovery I feared that I scared my sister. To be honest, I know I did because we weren't talking like we used to be. I didn't look like myself, I wasn't acting like myself, I simply wasn't the older sister I always was to her. I remember talking on the phone to my parents and in-person on how I was scared and sad that I had scared Jenna. My parents told me that they would take care of Jenna and I need to focus on myself getting better and that will help me restore my relationship with Jenna. I came home for Spring break and it was just me, my mom, and my sister at home for the week. Jenna was in school for the weekdays but it was the most time I was able to spend with her in my recovery. I was a mess this week. I was having freak outs with my eating disorder, yelling, crying, screaming, all of the above. I was also coming back to myself in small moments. When I first came home and I heard her laugh it was like I gained years of life. I didn't know how much I need to hear her laugh but I did. That's how my sister helped me. My sister helped me in my recovery by just being her. Even if she was scared, she acted like I was "normal". She helped me with my food challenges by eating them too and even eating more than me. She helped me choose my ice cream flavor, size, toppings, meal choice, etc. no matter how annoying I was with asking and being so indecisive. She showed me how free her relationship with food was and reminded me that I can have that again too. She was there for me when I just needed a hug and needed to cry. She asked questions if she needed to and I was open to her about her being able to ask me questions and not be afraid to ask. Overall, Jenna helped me by simply just being Jenna. Jenna's my best friend and she reminded me of that, she reminded me that she's my younger sister but she's always there for me as a big sister, she reminded me of our endless laughs when we can't breathe, our love for ice cream, that I was going to be okay and heal and if I needed a shoulder to cry on hers was always available. My biggest advice to siblings supporting those in recovery is simply just that, be supportive. Be supportive, Be You, be there for them through thick and thin, help them laugh again, remind them of life before their ED, help them regain life again, and just be the best sibling you've always been. I hope this helps any siblings supporting their dealing with an eating disorder. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. I don't know where I would be in my recovery journey without Jenna, Your role is very important, and I hope you realize that and put the effort in to help get your sibling to live life without ED and simply be them living their life again. Thank you, Jenna... my recovery dolphin. I love you. No Retreat. No Surrender. JR


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Jackie Rafferty

Jackie Rafferty