Ten years. That’s how long I’ve been at war with my body and mind. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in an active recovery for a majority of that time. I went to my therapy appointments, met with my dietician, followed meal plan after meal plan, dutifully completed three partial hospitalization programs and one intensive outpatient program. I read all the recovery books and articles I could find. Why, then, could I not get the eating disorder voice out of my head?
Because I wasn’t ready to let it go.
My eating disorder was always my backup, my friend, and my source of self-confidence. Bad day at work? That’s ok, I had my eating disorder. And as long as the number on the scale was “good enough”, everything was fine. Got in a fender bender? That’s ok, an extra hour or two at the gym would make it all better. Whatever went wrong in my life, as long as I went back to my eating disorder at the end of the day, everything would be just fine.
It’s exhausting to live a double life. To try to be in recovery and to still be holding onto an eating disorder. Your mind is being pulled in two different directions at the same time. You literally fight with yourself about every decision that you come up against. Your eating disorder wants one thing and you want another. You are mentally and physically torn.
Fortunately for me, the real me finally won.
I realized that enough was enough. I was tired of fighting.
Shifting my perspective
On the day that this happened I had been having a particularly bad day. The thought came to me that I could just hit the gym and that would make my bad day all better. What happened next was astonishing: Nothing happened. I didn’t feel better. My bad day didn’t go away. Everything wasn’t fine.
This was the first time that my eating disorder wasn’t there for me, and it was terrifying…at first.
Ten years of therapy did not go wasted in the following moments. I had a mental tool kit of coping skills just waiting to be used. I called a few friends, made an appointment with my therapist, and had an evening full of self-care.
Since that day,
I have made moving forward my only option. I realized that I was ready to let go, to not look back.
Of course I still have my ups and downs, but I constantly remind myself that falling back is not an option. It’s like that scene in a movie where the main character looks back and watches the bridge that they just ran across is on fire and falling into a rushing river hundreds of feet below. There’s nothing safe about that!
Warriors, I encourage you to look forward too.
Look forward to your life, your friends and loved ones, your passions and dreams. They’re not behind you, they’re in front of you! I promise that forward is full of potential. I’m still on my journey forward and away from my eating disorder, and I can tell you, I’ve never been so happy to travel solo.