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October 22, 2015

When Abuse, Eating Disorders and Sibling Rivalry Collide – Stop Comparing and Love Yourself 

Contributor:  Nikki DuBose, contributor for Eating Disorder Hope

I love my brother. He’s twenty-four and I’m thirty. We’ve been through so much together during our relationship; through Mom’s alcoholism and eventual death, my seventeen-year eating disorder and the physical, sexual and emotional abuse I received as a child. We’ve just been through it. Our bond has been strengthened by the pain and nothing can ever replace the love that we share.

Gaining a Sibling

I’ll never forget the first moment when Mom placed him in my arms in the delivery room. He was wrinkled, red and so fragile. I thought if I blinked too hard he would shatter into a million pieces. Time ceased to exist as I studied every tiny finger and toe. And his eyes, his beautiful, big brown eyes – I was hypnotized.

I worried about him constantly, never wanting him to get hurt, but within only a few years he was the one worrying about me. The abuse in our house was something that only I received, as sometimes happens in a remarriage. All he could really do was watch helplessly, but inside I could feel the friction and confusion building.

happy friends meeting and drinking tea or coffeeWhile we continued to grow, he only became smarter and more accomplished, winning every award in school. I was intelligent also, but because of my eating disorder which began at eight, I eventually lost focus and self-esteem, and became more isolated as the years progressed. By the time I was thirteen, the abuse was so bad in our house that I was taken out by the police and asked to go live with my dad on another side of town.

For years after that I struggled immensely with my confidence, my health and my relationship with my brother. Whether he knew it or not, I was constantly comparing myself with him and his accomplishments. He was living with my mom and his father, who treated him differently, and I dealt with that pain through drinking, drugs and purging my food multiple times a day. I had no idea where my worth stemmed from, as I had abandoned all of my spiritual roots that were taught to me from an early age.

My brother is now extremely successful – more so than most adults I know. He has accomplished things in life that I could never imagine. When our mom died and I went through recovery, I had to deal with the root of my disorders, which began with the abuse in my childhood. I realized that I was not that worthless little child that I was made to feel like so long ago, but that I was unique and special. I also had to forgive my stepfather and mother – they were doing what they did at the time because they were acting out of their own pain.

Now I celebrate my brother’s life, and I rejoice in my own. There are no more feelings of competitiveness or doubt because I’m not running a race with anyone. I’m simply loving myself and extending that love to everyone else. It’s a nice feeling.

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What has been your experience with disordered eating and its effect on relationships?


Nikki DuBose is a former model, host, and actress who has recently turned her career focus towards writing, public speaking, and mental health advocacy. She is a passionate dynamic voice in the mental health field and seeks to encourage others to develop a strong sense of their intrinsic value and self worth. Nikki grew up in charming Charleston, South Carolina and lives in Los Angeles. After traveling the globe and working as a fashion model and commercial actress in exciting destinations such as the Middle East, Paris, Barcelona, and London, she was inspired to leave the industry to pursue writing full time. Her writing is focused on encouraging others to overcome the deadly grip of eating disorders that affect millions. She draws firsthand experience from a long-standing battle with bulimia, anorexia, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addictions, and a wide range of mental health issues. Her first book is currently in the works and recounts her life struggles and ultimate triumph over the mental disorders and addictions that plagued her for most of her life. She has been published multiple times within The National Eating Disorders Association for her hope, strength, and community outreach initiatives. She continues to advocate for NEDA, writes for the association and other incredible establishments such as Eating Disorder Hope. She has been able to connect with people around the world through her website and speaks and assists with other organizations covering various mental health issues, body image and self esteem. In addition to her writing and advocacy, Nikki is pursuing her degree in Psychology, with the hopes of one day becoming an Eating Disorder Therapist.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders.  These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.  We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors.  If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 9, 2015. Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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