I want to make something 100% clear. I have no desire to go back to the “old me”; someone who was deep into the eating disorder, following the same patters and beliefs that kept me trapped for years. I was able to write the things that I've missed about my eating disorder, the person that I was ( even more so the person that I saw myself as) and my doubts about recovery/the person that I have become because I am somewhat removed from that hell/person/life. In my last post I talked about the things that I missed and even glorified the eating disorder some. I was focused on the ways that it helped me cope with life, people and some rough situations, but my experiences, the world and even my memories don’t exist in a vacuum. The eating disorder and the life that I used to live almost killed me and I am not naïve enough to believe otherwise. What I was doing and the way I used to live wasn’t healthy and wasn’t all fun in games. (Was any of it fun and games?) I was miserable and that is putting it mildly.
So why the follow up post?
I believe that there are two sides to every story and I also believe that it’s important to share both sides. Not only do I feel a little obligated to share this with my readers, but I feel even more obligated to share this with myself. So when I am stuck, admiring the old life that I had and remembering the glorified parts, I also remember the crappy parts and the reasons why I have no desire to go back. Also, to show myself and others that although there has been a lot of loss involved in this process, the things that I have gained are incomparable. My recovery doubts are there, as is the longing for the person that I used to be and the desire to take the easy road, but it stops right there. I can say for sure (And I mean this 100%), that even all of the praise and admiration in the world as well as the positive attributes that I remember, aren’t anywhere enough to get me to really want to go back or even to consider it. I also touched a lot on my perfectionism and unfortunately/fortunately this is a large apart of my personality and will most likely always be there. The key for me is to learn to harvest is for the better, instead of getting stuck in patterns/traps that are unhealthy and a waste of time. It means using my drive and hardworking nature to good and using my stubbornness to help me instead of against me. And even more so to stop seeking approval from others or relying on others for my worth. (this one is still largely a work in progress)It also means using my vulnerability and fear as inspiration, to show others (and myself) that it's not only ok to have doubts/insecurities/problems, but it's part of being human and courageous to share them.
So what are the downfalls of the eating disorder and my old life? And even more importantly what have I gained from recovery?
In this post I plan on spending a small amount of time on the downfalls. And then I will write a follow up post next time or some time in the future about what I have gained. The “what I have gained part” could actually be a book within itself and is why I am doing it in two parts. (I know that I can be super long winded)
With the eating disorder I lost weight, along with my sense of self, the ability to make rational decisions, the ability to feed myself properly, feel comfortable in my own skin, enjoy and participate in a social life, be present in anything, sleep, concentrate/focus on anything for extended periods of time, function properly, have fun, enjoy life etc. My body wasn’t functioning correctly at all; I was cold all of the time, dizzy, suffered from bad headaches that constantly turned into migraines, fatigue, stomach issues and that is just to name a few. Walking up stairs or even to the bus took insane amounts of energy and courage. The engineering hill on campus felt like I was climbing the biggest mountain ever and was my own personal hell. I was numb to all emotions, including the good ones like happiness, joy, excitement and even love. I didn’t have the energy to really care about anything. I was judgmental, snappy, short with people and not very fun to be around. I took everything way too seriously and lost the sense of humor and occasional spontaneity that I have. I was insanely busy, but wasn’t very productive or efficient despite what I thought/showed.
I lost friends because they were sick of watching me hurt myself, make excuses for my behaviors and turn down social invitations. I stopped getting invited to hang out because my obsessions weren’t the best company. I received a lot of attention but it was mostly negative and in the form of concern, worry and anger. I lost credibility and trust, because I could lie my way out of anything if I felt overwhelmed or like my secrets were in danger. (And lying is one of my biggest pet peeves) I lost respect, from those around me and even more so from myself. I lost myself and all of the core things that I valued.
Writing these last two paragraphs was super hard for me. It’s really upsetting to think that I spent so many years stuck in a cycle that eventually caused this much destruction and loss. But I hope that it gives you a clear picture of where I stand and why I don’t want to go back. It would be foolish and untrue if I didn’t share doubts like yesterday’s post and made it seem like recovery is easy and always the path that I want to take. But I am also glad that I was able to write this follow up post and tell both sides of the story and my perspective.
I think it’s important to recognize what got me here in the first place. The eating disorder and even my old habits/patterns/beliefs/coping mechanisms/ way of life had a function at one point. With all of the horrible things that I mentioned above, there had to have been some positive or something that it was helping me with. And there was. One thing that has been pertinent and very helpful in my recovery has been learning to have compassion for myself, even in times when it’s really hard to do so. And also to bring these struggles to light in order to overcome them, not to judge myself or beat myself up for things that I could have done differently. Just as I think it’s important to show both sides, the eating disorder vs recovery, I think it’s important to allow myself to feel the sense of loss and have days when I feel doubt and want to remember the positive things.(like yesterday’s post) This doesn’t show weakness or that I want to go back to that life at all. To me this shows strength and quite the opposite. Now I am able to see both sides, realize the pros, remember the cons and actively choose the path that I want to seek. Now I am the one in control of my life and I think my ability to see both sides of the story is clear proof of this. It I was given the option, I wouldn't trade my old life for anything and this is what truly matters.
Stay tuned for a post about the things that I have gained.