Earlier today, I read an online post that I absolutely loved. It was beautiful, touching, and powerful. It is written by http://www.thisiswhereistand.org (check out their site!) and is titled “to all who struggle with an eating disorder: an open letter about recovery.” You can read it here if you’d like to. You really should, because it definitely helped me today, and will do the same for you.
It inspired me to write something similar.
What Recovery Is
At my worst/sickest/darkest moments, I thought that recovery was impossible. Sometimes, I even felt that recovery was undesirable. My eating disorder’s hands were wrapped around my throat, keeping food from passing my lips, its eyes covered mine and concealed the reality of the disease, and it whispered lies to me all day long. When I first entered treatment, I entered it kicking and screaming, angry and afraid. I thought that recovery only meant one thing. It meant the scariest thing possible to me. It meant gaining weight. “I’d rather go to the dentist than sit in this f***ing hospital” was all my mind was saying.
And, recovery is gaining weight. No one is going to sit there and lie to you about that. It can be painful physically and emotionally, scary, triggering, and a bit like going to battle every single day.
But recovery is also SO much more.
Recovery is walking by a mirror and smiling. Recovery is laughing until you cry. Recovery is walking out of a therapy session and feeling awesome because you’ve made so much progress. Recovery is saying “yes!”, when a friend asks you to the movies, instead of declining because you’re too scared of the theatre’s snacks and candies. Recovery is waking up late and throwing on a shirt and a pair of jeans, instead of crying because you don’t have time for makeup. Recovery is actually being present during a conversation. Recovery is falling back in love with your favorite foods. Recovery is the moments in treatment where you’re hanging out with girls who become friends for life. Recovery is moving for health and fun, not for burning calories or losing weight. Recovery is feeling confident. Recovery is having energy. Recovery is having fun while shopping. Recovery is wearing clothes that fit comfortably. Recovery is exploring new hobbies and interests.
But I’m not going to lie, and it is true that recovery is also HARD.
Recovery is lots of tears. Recovery is crying at the dinner table. Recovery is missed opportunities, holidays, birthdays, and/or moments. Recovery is mourning the loss of the way you’ve coped for so long. Recovery is facing your fears head on. Recovery is feeling emotions again for the first time. Recovery is saying goodbye. Recovery is a meal plan, therapy sessions, doctor’s appointments, dietitians, etc. Recovery is being challenged every day. Recovery is exhausting.
Recovery isn’t something to be chosen only one time. Recovery is something that has to be chosen every single day.
But ultimately, recovery is like coming home. Recovery is coming home to the real, authentic, and genuine person inside of you. That person has always been inside of you. That beautiful, strong, powerful individual has been dying to be set free. That person has hopes, dreams, laughter, smiles, uniqueness, strength, and their own characteristics NO ONE ELSE HAS!! Recovery is your chance to let that person have their moment to shine. Your eating disorder thrives from convincing you that all you will ever be is ugly, worthless, unlovable, and all those other nasty words it gives you. Those are the words that actually describe your eating disorder. Recovery helps us all to see that who we are as individuals are not defined by anything other than the content of our character.
Recovery is possible.
This post is dedicated to the women of TK and IDC. May you continue to find hope, strength, and courage on your journeys.