When I first started recovery I thought the process would be fairly simple. All I needed to do was restore my weight, change a few of my behaviors, & then I would be good to go. Simple. Clear cut. Easy.
If only it was really that easy. The fact of the matter is that eating disorder recovery is anything but simple. Eating Disorders disrupt the mind, body, soul, and spirit. They don’t discriminate based off of age, gender, or nationality. They are complex and multi-dimensional. There isn’t a clear path to recovery, but rather a slow, up-and-down journey to building a better life. It isn’t linear. It isn’t clear cut. It’s imperfect. Recovery requires dedication, sacrifice, and surrender. There are a lot of things that are necessary to give up in recovery for an individual who wants to reclaim the life that he or she once had without an eating disorder. Many of us know what we need to do and why we need to do it, the problem is that we often don’t have the motivation to do so. At the beginning of recovery I truly wanted to recover, but I wasn’t committed to changing any of my attitudes or behaviors. I wanted the best of both worlds.
I wanted to restore my weight but I didn’t want to exercise less.
I wanted to my hunger pains to cease but I refused to eat more food than I thought was necessary.
I wanted to stop constantly craving sugar, but I always liked to wait as long as possible between each meal.
I wanted to fully recover but I didn’t want to give up the habits and hang-ups that gave me temporary relief when I began to feel anxious, lonely, or self-conscious.
It wasn’t until I fully committed to the recovery process that I was able to truly start healing. There was nothing in me that wanted to submit to the advice of my recovery team or my family, but I could no longer bear merely surviving. I didn’t want to just survive, I wanted to live.
When I started to surrender to the recovery process it wasn’t easy. My digestion was slow and eating was often uncomfortable and painful. Adhering to my food plan was hard. I had to give up all control of my body. I had to be okay with my clothes fitting differently. I wasn’t able to do the workouts that I wanted to do. I was forced to sit with all of my emotions and not act upon them in destructive ways. I had to give up my comfort, schedule, workout routine, meal plan, and control. I had to give up what seemed like everything to me at the time.
When I started following my food plan and honoring my hunger I was able to concentrate in school. I no longer became hungry an hour after eating. My digestive system started to heal and eating became less painful. I learned how to exercise in a way that benefited my health rather than harm it. I developed healthy ways to manage anxiety and stress rather than using my ED behaviors. I no longer feared going out to eat with my friends and family. I learned how to show compassion and grace to myself and other people. I started practicing self-care. I began to appreciate food, my body, & my life with gratitude and thanksgiving rather. Above all, I was finally able to pursue my passions and desires without feeling held back. Once I began to take care of myself, I was able to do what I love the most: connecting with the people around me.
If you haven’t already, I want to encourage you to commit to recovery today. It doesn’t matter if you are just beginning, are in the middle of the relapse, or are trying to maintain the positive changes in your life. It was only when I fully committed to these things that I was able to get my life back. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t perfect. There were a lot of setbacks. It took months of hard work, tears, and frustration. As difficult as it is, committing to recovery each day is so much better than living a lifetime with your eating disorder. Be gentle with yourself, don’t lose heart when you mess up, and keep fighting until you have attained the freedom that has been stolen from you. Commit to recovery so that you too can be free.