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Bosom buddies

Opening up to me about her eating disorder was difficult enough for my best friend, but showing me the consequences proved to be almost too much for both of us to bear.

My best friend is amazing. I know everybody thinks that but mine really is. She doesn’t walk, she struts and with her cropped hair, natural sartorial elegance and flame red lipstick, she is a stunning vision to behold. I only mention this because it’s the sole reason why I hated and envied her for so long.

We worked for the same company and for months exchanged withering looks, clearly sharing a mutual distaste for each other. We finally spoke for the first time after I found her looking very ill in the toilets and told her to go home. Upon her return, a flurry of emails ensued which revealed that we were, essentially, the same person. Neither of us could function without coffee, sweets or vintage clothes and she wore Vivienne Westwood perfume everyday, but not the same one as I did, so we blended perfectly, leaving a heady and exotic hue wherever we went. I felt like the coolest kid in school when we were together but I had a weird feeling that I couldn’t shake.

A few months into our friendship, I started to realise that something wasn’t quite right. Nobody could eat the amount of rubbish that she did without ever putting on a pound but I kept my suspicions to myself. Shortly afterwards, she came to me and just blurted it out, “I’m bulimic. I have been for years. I worry about what I’ve done to my body.” A lot of information was hurled at me in a very short space of time and as she stood, looking at me and waiting for a reaction, I panicked slightly. I made an ill-timed joke but remember feeling completely relieved that she trusted me enough to tell me such a huge secret. A nervous giggle, a coffee and a slightly awkward hug later and we had crossed a threshold, we really were best friends now.

Fast-forward eight months and here we are, having a coffee together every morning via a daily Skype chat (we both work from home) because touching base every day has become even more important recently. She is now entering monitored recovery following a short, but very serious, relapse and to say that I am proud would be an understatement. I’m staggered by her strength but also saddened by her lingering vulnerability, which she showed me recently when we went bra shopping.

It should have been another friendship rite of passage that we could tick off, but embarking on an underwear-buying excursion was not the silly and crude giggle-fest that I thought it would be. Having been measured, my friend emerged, http://www.besttramadolonlinestore.com teary-eyed, from the fitting room and whispered to me that her breasts had all but disappeared as a result of years of bulimia. I flew into best friend mode, attacking the lingerie department with a feverish voracity and reassuring her, perhaps a bit too loudly, that we would find something that would give her not only confidence but also some ‘chebs’ (our word for boobs). Armed with every balconette number available in her size, I skipped on into the changing room with her but was totally unprepared for what I would see.

Choking back tears is not easy and I am not a subtle crier so with my mouth contorting and my eyes welling up, I took in the full extent of what my friend’s condition had done to her; stripped her of the confidence that made her who she was. I was no longer looking at a formidable, attractive young woman that was more than capable of staring me down for fun, I was now in the presence of a girl that could barely make eye contact with me. Arms folded across her tiny frame, head bowed and shoulders drooped, she asked me to adjust the first bra for her. As I gently shortened the straps, she pulled up to her proper height but still wouldn’t look at herself, or me. I put her arms down by her side and hugged her from behind, trying not to think about how much her collarbones were digging into my wrist as I did. Looking at her in the mirror, what blew me away wasn’t how worrying small she had become, though of course she had, it was her utter femininity. Far from looking like a boy, as I suspect she feared, she still looked beautiful and as she allowed herself to take in the effect of the new bra, I saw a glimmer of her old self. We managed a joke about how ‘chebby’ she looked and enjoyed laughing about how her penchant for ‘going commando’ meant that she would save a lot of money by not buying matching pants. Even as she put on her old, totally inappropriately sized bra, I could see that she was clinging onto the positivity of what had just happened.

Full recovery is still a long way off and I know that there will be bad days, weeks and even months but as we headed to the till that day, cackling and carrying a swathe of satin and gingham bras, I knew that she would always trust me. It’s not a responsibility that I take lightly and whenever she needs me, I am there, even if only to buy her mochas, chat on Skype or adjust her straps. It isn’t a burden, it’s being a best friend.

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