By now it should cease to be a surprise - and yet opening up this dialogue continues to have some of the most surprising and affirming consequences. Case in point - a note last night from a former colleague generous enough to follow along with these musings and to provide the most wonderful notes of support and love to me privately in recent months.
Her purpose in writing was to describe a recent trip to her gym, where over time she has observed a client working out on a particular piece of equipment in a manner that was more manic than normal. She further observed that after following my story and noting the pronounced dwindling size of the client in question over a relatively short time - she had thought of my story and wondered what, if anything, she should do to express her concern.
Back in the days when support groups were something I attempted to participate in...I became aware of several situations where eating disorder clients had been physically banned from certain gyms by management concerned about their well-being - not to mention the liability they could expose themselves to if in the course of one of these 'manic' workouts a clearly vulnerable client was injured in pursuit of their goal. These interventions were deeply felt by the clients in question - and served as important messages in overcoming the denial that surround elements of these illnesses.
But what struck me about this exchange was twofold. First, what a profound act of caring by my former colleague toward a complete stranger who she could identify as being in a danger zone - in a scenario where most people might simply look away. Second, was if I had not shared my story in as honest a way as I could, this observation may not have occurred in the first place nor the question of whether some action on her part might be helpful for a woman wasting away. While I don't know where all of this will lead, I do know that sometimes a cry for help can only be heard if your ears are open to receive it and we all share the responsibility to act in as responsible and sensitive a manner as we can in the village of humanity that surrounds us when we observe someone at risk - not something that every mortal soul has the willingness to give.
So to Rachael this morning I send my most profound love and gratitude for your bravery, your insight and the capacity of your huge and open heart...and to the woman you described - my sincere hope that she has a hand to reach out to in the days that follow when the running stops.