I wanted to sit down tonight and write an inspiring entry about recovery. The why’s and how’s, the yes’s and no’s of my “unpolished journey”. I felt as though all my writing was austere and abstract, a gas like substance, hard to grip on to and even harder to define. I wanted to write something more tangible and, above all, motivating for readers, and quite frankly myself, when it comes to recovery. Yet, with that intention after three weeks of endless thoughts and ideas I was suddenly struck by writer’s block. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. My mind instead started to paint a picture of my real, true, rocky, recovery process. It wasn’t exactly the inspiring, ribbon on top of a pretty box message I wished I could give to readers, but never the less it needed to be shared.
The progression mapped out is loosely chronological and wholesomely true.
Finally lying my head down at night after successfully managing behaviors, only to find the eating disorder screaming about the feeling of my bloated belly and swollen cheeks. Of my mind combating with, “that is just the results of proper nutrition and hydration”. Of my eating disorder yelling back, “how could you let yourself indulge in such glutinous acts!? Tomorrow you have to get back on track. Tomorrow, or else you will just get fatter.” And I peacefully drift off into a fragmented sleep dreaming of daisy and rainbows and how much I love this magical idea of recovery….
The Middle Stages:
Sitting at a restaurant blinking back tears at the fact that my thighs are touching. I am trying to hold a conversation, while simultaneously panicking about the selections on the menu. I had wanted to challenge myself tonight. I had planned to get something I truly wanted (pizza, pasta, burger, etc.) The thoughts of my favorite foods were so painfully alluring, leaving my mouth salivating, but now with my thighs touching…there seemed to be no way I could indulge in such delicacies. My friends could, my family could, the stranger next to me could, but not me. Never me. Poor me. Terminally unique me.
I had come to convince myself that I no longer had a problem. Normal weight. Eating the meal plan. Minimal behaviors. But, as I excuse myself to the bathroom to cry silently about how badly I wanted the taste the bread in the bread basket but couldn’t find the strength in my sausage arms to reach it, I realized the problem was still there. Loud. Obnoxious. I started to wonder if recovery was all just some big lie fed to me by treatment centers to simply steal my money.
I didn’t get the bread and I didn’t order what I truly wanted and the whole walk home the disorder applauded me while I beat myself up for listening.
The Relapse Stages:
These came interspersed. I would be good for awhile and then suddenly my disordered friend would steal the driver’s seat. Either through a new behavior or a new mindset, he kept coming back, relentless and leaving me in what felt like an endless cycle of “getting better” and then “getting sicker”. It was banging my head against a wall. Chasing my own tail. Redefining insanity as I reached for the same deadly comforts over and over again.
The Done Stages:
I got really good at bullshit during my time in treatment centers. The bullshit came at times when I was there but didn’t want to be there. That stuck feeling was when the fact I was surrounded by dozens of eating disorders became, I am ashamed to admit, helpful. I learned all kind of tricks to keep me sick, but let me out at the same time. I played the game just like so many others. The one where I am actually not playing at all, but instead my eating disorder is kicking goals and shooting hoops all for the wrong team while I sit back and slowly disappear into the recesses of my mind.
The Awakening Stage:
Came to Believe a Power Greater than Myself Could Restore Me to Sanity.
Realizing the magnitude of the disease inside my mind, I resulted to falling deeply and madly in love with the idea of a Higher Power. Someone to help the helpless little bird I had become, someone to love me when I hated every inch of my existence, someone bigger than the eating disorder who could help me get away from it.
God met me when I was willing to meet Him. When I asked for help, truly asked. Not the prayer where my fists still desperately clench onto my eating disorder as I pray for help, but the fall on my face, arms opened wide, help me I am broken prayer. That is the one that God heard. And suddenly I began to believe in this recovery that everyone was talking about. Suddenly the voice of God, of hope, of surrender and let me, was louder than the manipulative, abusive, narcissistic disorder inside my mind.
The Real Stages:
Each day is impossible. Filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows because when the disorder was truly given up, I felt everything. Sure, even after the Awakening which unleashed the desire for recovery, I still had to return to the basics. Baby steps. Take your time. Relearn yourself.
I have a meal plan. I have a treatment team. I go to EDA. I eat and I sleep and I pray and I cry and I write and I make art and I talk. But above all, I think about concepts larger than calories, food, and the circumference of my thighs. (Most days, that is. Remember nothing is perfect.)
I am slowly coming undone, collapsing into a new alignment of the broken pieces I have been comprised of. I am transforming. I am in so much pain awaiting the beauty that is being created. And that is recovery. Pain. Change. Gain. Repeat.