Upon finally embarking on my journey to recover from years of disordered eating, I naively thought I was prepared for what was to come. However, four discoveries along the way took me by complete surprise.
I am grateful for my period
I have always had a complicated affair with my menstrual cycle – heavy, lengthy, and painful are recurrent symptoms for me. Never would I have believed I could be grateful for these monthly visits, but here I am, proud as punch. What a surprise!
I am thankful because I remember all of the times my monthly visitor did not come knocking. Despite feeling pleasantly smug that I didn’t have to deal with periods, I was also acutely aware it was not normal.
When I realized that not ovulating could affect my ability to conceive, it was the wake-up call I needed. I committed to recovering and waited agonizingly for months for my period to reappear. When it finally did, I was so grateful to my body for showing me it was on the road to recovery.
My period now arrives like clockwork each month and I welcome it with a gentle rub of my tummy and a quiet thank you to my body.
I relish in retreating during this time, soothing my aches with a hot water bottle and using this time to slow down.
I finally take up space – and it feels good
I have struggled with self-confidence all my life. Always the quiet person in the room, I hoped no one would notice me. When I was at my lowest weight, I felt almost invisible. Shrinking my body presented me with a physical way to hide.
When I chose recovery and gained the weight my body needed, hiding away was no longer possible. I felt exposed.
Surprisingly, I discovered I no longer wanted to suck my tummy in. I wanted to relax and breathe deeply and unapologetically.
Through educating myself on topics of eating disorders, body image, anxiety and self-esteem in women, I became angry at how our society encourages us to obsess over our looks to silence us from ‘showing up.’
Recovery helped me take up space shamelessly. Once I found my voice, I launched a blog and created content that challenged societal ideals and expectations of women. I am expressing myself for the first time in my life.
Not only do I take up more space physically, but also emotionally and creatively.
Often I feel like an outcast in conversations
I can no longer participate in conversations that used to help me bond with co-workers. Females often connect over a shared hatred of their bodies and we seem to thrive on comparing notes from our most recent diet attempt.
When I started to recover, I realized I could no longer engage in discussions about behaviors that were so harmful to me. To my surprise, I realized just how boring these conversations are. I yearned to talk about social issues, thought-provoking films, and the media – instead, I found myself despairing at the degrading way intelligent women spoke about their bodies.
Sometimes, in order to be authentically YOU and protect your mental health, you will have to exclude yourself from mainstream conversations – and that’s ok.
Depending on the group, I often use these conversations as a way to educate others about body image. Other times, I politely step away to shield myself from triggering discussions.
I listen to my body each day
Before recovery, I thought intuition was an old myth. I relied on fitness apps to tell me what and how much to eat food and based all day to day decisions on logic, ignoring my gut feeling. In recovery, I had to delete the apps that used to guide me. Instead, I learned to tune into my intuition to guide me on how I wanted to move my body and what food to consume.
Soon, I used my intuition for even the simplest decisions, such as my outfit choice for the day. My decisions are now based on what feels good to me, not what I should do.
Listening to my intuition has awoken an inner connection to my body that I never knew was possible.
Anyone who has been, or is currently going through recovery knows it is one of the hardest things you can ever do. Some things will surprise you, make you cry, smile.