Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ditching the anorexic label

When I was first diagnosed with anorexia I was ashamed. In my eyes it was equated with failure, weakness, disappointment and vanity. I was so ashamed that I had succumbed to what felt like a disease of superficiality and a cry out for attention. As mentioned in previous posts, it took me years to even accept that I suffered from anorexia and to even say my name with it in the same sentence. As the disorder progressed I wore it as a badge of honor. I wore it with pride. Instead of seeing it as an illness, in my eyes it made me special. It was like a special cape, an excuse to get out of life really. If I was incapable of doing everything else perfectly (read as: to my impossibly high standards) at least I could be the perfect anorexic.

This afternoon as John and I were outside playing softball I began to think about how much I still hold on the label as a security blanket and even how much it still defines me. Although I no longer see it in a positive light at all, there are still some parts that I hang on to. Even though it completely destroyed my life and came close to killing me on multiple occasions there is still some sadness around completely giving that label up. 

Recently I have discovered that I enjoy food, cooking and just the overall eating experience. In the past I have been ashamed to admit that I like things like ice cream, cookies and french fries. What are people going to think? Whenever I went grocery shopping I felt that I could only get low calorie and fat free foods. I felt that I had to uphold  the image of being anorexic. Now don't get me wrong, there was a time in my life when I bought those things because I was terrified of everything else but that is no longer the case.

As I was running around the field trying to catch the softballs that John was hitting to me I felt amazing. I wasn't out of breath (ok maybe a little because I am out of shape), dizzy or about to pass out. I wasn't exercising for punishment. My mind wasn't mentally tallying the amount of calories I was burning or even thinking about food at all. I was completely connected to my body. I felt my strong legs underneath me and could hear my heart beating. During those moments I felt completely free. I didn't want to be the girl who passed out on the field. Or was rushed to the hospital for overdoing it. I didn't want to be the "sick one" who people constantly felt sorry for. I wanted to be me, a girl enjoying her love of sports and spending time with her fiance. And I was that girl.

I am in recovery from anorexia. It will probably be a long time before the disease doesn't take up some sort of space in my mind but that's OK. Tonight isn't about being fully recovered or never struggling again. Tonight is about letting go of another label that has kept me trapped for years. It's about taking responsibility for my life and not allowing anything else to do that for me.

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