What Does Heartbreak Have to do with Recovery?

heartbreak in recovery - image of paper heart hung on a string, ripped half way down the center

This week, I mustered the bravery to tell my crush that I had feelings for him; he then, albeit kindly, turned me down. I smiled back at him and said “Okay! No problem!” However, behind my smiley facade, I felt deeply insecure. I spent the following days after the reveal wallowing in my insecurities; questioning why I wasn’t “good enough” for him. I berated myself with critiques about my outward appearance and personality. I share this story because, for one, it is common. Also, it relates to eating disorder recovery. During the recovery process, we often talk about the journey of physically healing. However, there is less awareness about outward factors that can influence the recovery process. One of those factors is heartbreak and rejection. 


When someone rejects us, it can feel like a personal attack on our entire being. Especially as women, we are taught from a young age that the more beautiful we are, the more men will want us. Therefore, when we are rejected by a man, we feel our beauty is invalidated. However, I had to remind myself, and I want to remind you, that this is not true.

For one, it’s an extremely heteronormative approach to romance. Not only that but:

Rejection is also not inherently a commentary on our ability to be loved.

Just because one person doesn’t want you doesn’t mean no one will want you. 

Recovery is a process

Part of the process of recovery is finding yourself beautiful. Not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally. It is about recognizing your imperfections but choosing to not let them overtake your self-image. It’s about understanding that health is a form of strength, and society places too much emphasis on the way we look. It is about finding the world beautiful for all it is, and allowing yourself to see its beauty. 

While romantic rejection can make us feel bad, it does not have to not hamper our recovery process. Personally, rather than allowing myself to relapse as a result of this experience, I remind myself of the joy and freedom recovery has allowed me to experience.

I remind myself that the future is bright, and I am enough. 

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