what recovery feels like
Recovery is a deliberate, considered choice that is required everyday, at each meal, after each meal, between meals, when I wake up, when I go to bed, when I’m in a relationship, at parties, at functions, at work lunches, at best friend brunches, before I exercise, while I exercise, after I exercise, before I go to bed, when I wake up, on weekdays and on weekends.
It is relentless. It's so tiring having to choose to fight through my own mind all the time.
Some days don’t even feel like I’m in recovery. I may not be going backwards, but I am sure as hell not going forwards. That's what I call the "limbo state" of recovery - where nothing gets worse but nothing gets better. I maintain just the right amount of weight to remain healthy.
My recovery has been slow. It's been roughly ten years now. I envy those who seemed to have got over the majority of their disordered thoughts but on the other hand, I also fear to have what they have, which is recovery. Losing my grip on what is the remaining bit of my eating disorder would mean I would lose control and once the black hole opens, the falling never stops.
Am I right in my thinking though?
I’ve been told by therapists, friends and dieticians that I’m wrong and that my theory of falling down and down and down, unable to put on the brakes is a irrational thought. But I wouldn’t know as I’ve never truly allowed myself to fully let go of these annoying, harsh, self-deprecating thoughts.
I’ve stood on the edge of the waterfall and have looked down so many times - but just looking. Never jumping.
Why haven't I just leapt? For I have had the taste of freedom without my eating disorder and it was glorious, but for so long I have felt that my eating disorder was a part of me. Without it, who would I be? My identity would be compromised. I would no longer be that small, cute, unique person amongst all the "normal" people. It would mean I would lose the protective wall around me. I would have be vulnerable and raw; me at my most primal - something that cannot be controlled or contained within me would emerge. And that thought scared me.
After years of undertaking various forms of therapy and healing techniques, I came to the realisation, while sitting quietly and journaling in a yoga studio, that my eating disorder is like a box. It’s a box I have been holding on to dearly for years and years. Whenever something comes my way that is hard to sit with or face, I throw it in there.
So there it all sits - in the box - waiting and waiting, for years upon years, to be faced and dealt with. But it never does - so it grows old and ugly and disfigured. The inside of the box becomes messy, yet I still hold on, unable to look inside the mess and give it a clean.
What I can do though, should I truly want to, is to actually put that box down and walk away. That box is not me. I just picked it up during a tough time in my life without much thought - and it helped me through that experience; I could put that difficult thing away and move on with my life. Simple. But now I have been holding on to that box ever since because I don’t know how to deal with things without it.
To put the box down and walk away would mean facing things alone, unarmed. The box wouldn’t be held up tightly against me, protecting me from the blows. The truth of the matter is, is that I can put that box down. I really could. If I wanted to. But I would first have to deal with all the experiences I have been unable to face over my lifetime first that I have conveniently cast away in the box.
And how do I do that? Time and getting older, having awareness, being honest and delving deeper into past experiences. These are just some of the avenues I am exploring. It’s a continuous exploration and there is no real end goal in sight. I can’t put a date to it. I can’t ever say “AHA, I am now recovered.”
No, I just need to trust the process (a rather overused phrase that was often said when I was in a clinic for my eating disorder but which really helped me during that time).
Over the next few months, I will hopefully be sharing my journey on what it feels like to recover from an eating disorder. For the last few weeks, I have had an urge to write about this. I don't really know why, but I have been feeling very called to share what is an extremely personal and delicate topic with you all. I hope that these words touch you in some way. Please reach out to me if you are so inspired.