I have very strong convictions. When I believe things, I believe them to the core of my being. For the most part it is very hard to change my mind. While this is a quality that I really love about myself and is part of why I pour my heart into everything that I do, it has also made changing false beliefs, especially about myself really difficult. The cycle of self hatred and negative beliefs have become so engrained in me that they are really hard to erase and let go.
This past week has been really rough for me in a lot of ways. (a little disclaimer: ed behaviors have been close to nonexistent and I have been doing pretty well in recovery) I have been eating a lot more, trying new foods and most importantly I gave up calorie counting and looking up nutritional information cold turkey. Even though I have been doing significantly better on the food front recently, until this weekend I still kept track of every calorie that was going into my body. This weekend I finally got fed up enough to stop doing it and while it's been extremely liberating, it's also been really scary. Without numbers as a guideline and still not being completely sure how to listen to my body or figure out exactly how much food it needs, I have been convinced all week that I have been overeating. Multiple times a day I have been overwhelmed by my body, completely convinced that I am gaining weight and my body is seriously changing. You may be thinking that it's a little extreme to think that my body has changed so much in a week or even daily, but I have honestly believed that every day. Today, in my nutritionists office, when I stepped on her scale and she assured me that my weight hadn't changed at all, I was so confused and angry. You mean to tell me that everything that I have believed all week is wrong? What about all of the eating disorder beliefs that I have held on to and listened to for years?
For most of my life I really have believed that I was inherently flawed and unlovable. Some days I still look at John and the other people in my life and think that they must be crazy to love me and want to be around me. I am not ungrateful for the people and good things in my life, I try to count my blessings everyday, but I have been confused as to how/why I deserved them. For years I wholeheartedly believed that love was conditional and something that I had to earn.I believed to the core of my being that in order for people to love me I had to be perfect, thin,selfless, constantly giving and constantly have my shit together. It's taken a lot of work and therapy to change these beliefs and some days are easier than others.
Recovery is much harder when you completely believe the things that the eating disorder is telling you. This is where pride comes in, but for years I honestly believed that I could change my body and could get by on less food. I thought I was different, that I was the one that could survive at a low weight with my health and happiness intact. The more people told me that I couldn't or how unhealthy what I was doing was, the more I wanted to prove them wrong, because I believed I was above that. To someone who doesn't struggle with an eating disorder, a lot of the rules and beliefs sound completely absurd and irrational ( which they are) but I still believed them.
In the past year in a half, since I entered treatment and have been working hard in recovery, I have begun to view the world in a new light. My ideas and beliefs around a lot of things have changed significantly. Although I am not thankful for my eating disorder and the pain and suffering that I have endured throughout my life, I am very grateful for the self exploration and chance to constantly improve and better myself and my life. It is a lot of work and my stubbornness hasn't helped, but learning about myself and letting go of harmful beliefs has been freeing. Some times I feel like a little kid, growing up all over again and I am thankful for the opportunity to try something different.
In some aspects of recovery I still have a long way to go and know that this is a life long journey. I still have a lot of deep held beliefs that could use some work, especially related to my body. Some days I still need to be reminded by John that he loves me no matter what or by my treatment team many other things, but I don't need it as often as I used to. When I think back to the person that I was and the things that I believed about life and myself 2 years ago and where I am today, I am reminded that anything is possible. With hard work and a lot of support and encouragement, I know that I can continue to chip away at the beliefs and self hatred that have kept be stuck and chained to the eating disorder for years.