For the past few months I have been living in this middle ground area; one foot firmly planted in recovery and the other hanging on for dear life to the eating disorder. Minus the slips here and there, I haven’t completely crawled my way back to the disorder but I haven’t been ready to really let go either. I have been convinced that this is a good place to be at; after all it’s a pretty high functioning place. I can pretty much lead the life that I want to lead with minimal drawbacks. My body is no longer in danger nor is my health and I am not quite as obsessive as I used to be. I can step out of my comfort zone when necessary, try new foods, be flexible and even pat myself on the back every now and again. I don’t count calories or completely freak out when I eat something that was once forbidden and can exercise without going overboard. I even ate fast food yesterday for the first time in almost a year and it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I had anticipated. The number on the scale is becoming just a number and my goal to change it has faded. I’ve even found myself complimenting my body on occasion and truly appreciating it for all that it does.
Yet, I don’t want to completely close the door. I don’t want to loosen the grip that the eating disorder has on my one foot and fully let go and my only explanation for this is fear.
My eating disorder has been a buffer; a fall back option when things get hard. And even though I trust my ability to handle life and everything that is throws at me, it’s really hard to let go of that security blanket. For me, recovery has largely been about letting go; letting go of the behaviors, beliefs, patterns and traps that I have held on to for so many years, including a lot of the false information I have fed myself or taken from others. It’s also meant letting go of the impossible expectations that I set for myself and learning to worry less about what others think about me. My recovery has been so much more then learning how to eat right, take care of myself and listen to my body. And it’s those “extras” that keep me hanging on to the disorder.
What if people don’t like the person that I am becoming? What if I am no longer able to connect to old friends or people that I used to be close to? What if I am no longer as dependable, motivated or driven? How will others react when I don’t always put them before myself or tell them no? What about when I am no longer the super competitive athlete that everyone admired and looked up to? What about when I truly love and accept my body and have to let go of being thin or perfect? What about when I fail, cry, make a mistake and can’t just brush it off as easily as I used to? Or when I am not the strong one holding it together for everyone else and comforting everyone in times of distress? What if I can’t be the person that I used to be or live up to all of the labels that I have adopted for years? Or when I have to face the emotions and feelings that I have been numbing out for years? What happens when things get overwhelming and I have to deal with them head on?
All of these questions are the fears that keep me stuck. They are the reason that I just can’t close the door. They are the reasons that I have fallen into the eating disorder grips over and over again. And as you can see, they have nothing to do with food.
This middle ground area is nice and comforting. It’s almost like the best of both worlds. I can enjoy some of the freedoms that recovery brings but also still go back if necessary. I can have my cake and eat it too and that is why it’s so appealing.
Yet, deep down inside I know that this place is only temporary. I know that in order to truly recover from my eating disorder and live a full life, I have to let go. I have to uproot my foot and close the door. I have to believe in myself 100% and not worry so much about the fears listed above. I have to let go of the past and everything related to it.
Nine months ago I didn’t think I would ever be able to eat normally again. I didn’t think I would still be alive. I didn’t think recovery would ever be possible for me and I didn’t think I would have come as far as I have. I had different fears, questions and things holding me back and I didn’t think I would ever overcome them. And I have.
One day I will be able to look back and say the same about all of this.