For me, recovering from an eating disorder has been much more than learning how to eat and take care of myself. It’s been about learning about myself; accepting my strengths and weaknesses and figuring out better ways to handle and cope with things that life throws at me. It’s been about figuring out who I am, which direction I am headed and about the life that I want to lead. It’s been about putting myself first and learning that it’s ok to do so. It’s been about opening my eyes and changing my perspective including my black and white thinking. It’s been about interacting with people differently and learning to stand up for myself. It’s been about learning to value myself and truly believe that I have a lot to offer the world. It’s been about breaking down the wall and learning to embrace exactly who I am, including my problems and insecurities. It’s been about noticing and breaking patterns and traps that I have fallen into time and time again. And about being curious, compassionate and understanding of the process. It’s been full of ups and downs, highs and lows and everything in between. Overall, it’s been and continues to be one of the hardest yet most rewarding things I have ever done.
Change doesn’t happen over night. Some days I feel like I am miles away from the finish line. Other days I feel like nothing has changed and I should give up trying. Some days, the hard work and uncomfortable feelings don’t seem worth it. It seems like I am moving in reverse or at snails pace and I can’t seem to find the accelerator. And then other days I just stop and smile when I realize how far I’ve come. For me, it’s usually the little things that warrant this response; like the excitement and satisfaction I feel when I enjoy cooking a yummy dinner for John or when I don’t back down from an argument with my mom or allow people to make me feel bad about myself or the best of all, when I say NO to something because I don’t WANT to do it and don’t feel guilty afterwards. Moments like these are what make the struggle worth the effort. Most of the time it seems like these moments are few and far between. It seems that all of the bad stuff outweighs the good, and like it will never get better.
But it does get better and I believe that with 100% certainty. Although I am not always confident, I love the person that I am becoming. I love learning to live authentically; being able to look in the mirror and show up for myself. Every day isn’t always easy and great, but embracing my insecurities is much better then hiding them. Putting myself out there and displaying my struggle has been challenging. I’ve feared that I would lose friends or change people opinions about me. I’ve worried that people would see me as a fraud because I have always kept this side of my life hidden. But I don’t worry about those things so much anymore. Occasionally doubt catches up with me and I start to panic, but it happens far less often then it used to.
You see, I am not perfect and I no longer strive to be. I have flaws, doubts and insecurities just like everyone else. I also have ambitions, goals and things about myself that I absolutely love. I’ve done things in the past that I am not necessarily proud. I’ve made mistakes, let people down and even hurt people. But I have also done amazing things and helped people along away.
For me, recovery has been learning balance. Not only how to balance things that are going on in my life, but learning the balance of myself. For me, balance means accepting the good and the bad, my flaws and accomplishments and everything in between the two. It isn’t always easy, but it’s completely worth it.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or any related issues in their lives, remember that it get’s better. Last August I didn’t believe that I would be where I am right now or more so that I could ever love the person that I am becoming, but I am and I do. Some days it may seem like it's easier to give in and give up but don't do it. If I can do this, then you can to. It get’s better, I am living proof.