Little bit stronger

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Right after my senior year of high school, I broke up with my “high school sweetheart,” the guy I had been dating for nearly four years. It wasn’t a classic break up, no hearts were left too broken, and I had so much to look forward to in college that it was difficult to be too upset about it.

However, “A Little Bit Stronger” by Sara Evans had just become really popular and was way overplayed on every country radio station. But, I was okay with that. Because the song is awesome. In case you haven’t heard it before, here it is:

So when I was having a particularly hard day, maybe missing hanging out with that guy I had dated for so long, this song was my jam. I felt like it really spoke to me. Really, we have all been there, we have all have had the song that we swear was written specifically for us.

Well fast forward four years. I am now engaged to my truest sweetheart. So, Evans’ song won’t ever be applied to my love life ever again.

I really had forgotten about the song until it came on my Sara Bareilles Pandora station while I was getting ready for my morning classes. The song touched my heart more than ever. This song IS my recovery.

Recovery has been a crazy road for me. I have lived my whole life with some sorts of disordered eating habits sprinkled here and there since I was probably about eight years old. I would go through seasons of life they were rather strong and others that they were completely absent. During my sophomore year of college, what I thought were just healthy habits that were allowing me to become admirably healthy, ended up spiraling so out of control straight into the darkness, sadness, and absolute awfulness that is anorexia nervosa.

Some days have been awesome, some awful. Others strong days and some seemed impossible. But the important thing is, all of these are days IN RECOVERY. Not days in anorexia, not days in relapse, not days in denial. Just like the song says, “Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger.”

Seriously, these words are so true. There have been days in the past two years that I have felt like the whole world was against me. Everyone from those I love so dearly to strangers. I swore nothing was going right. There have been more days than I can count that I have considered giving up. I have had these horrible thoughts in my head, it’d be great if I just stopped going to my appointments and handled it all on my own. It’s easier that way, isn’t it?

But then I realize, this isn’t my voice speaking. This isn’t the logical Emma speaking- not the 22 year old girl who loves to spend hours looking at wedding décor on Pinterest, sending goofy snapchats to my old high school friends, and sitting outside of my favorite coffeeshop drinking a Chai tea latte.

No, these voices are my eating disorder, Ana, Ed- however I want to identify it. And Ed is so full of lies. And I have left Ed. Broken up completely. Sometimes it gets running through my head, its voice loud and clear, but I know it doesn’t belong there. It makes me feel weak and defeated. But after all of this, all of its constant conflict it tries to create, I am the winner. And although I feel it makes my days terrible, I know that by the end of the day, I AM stronger. I am stronger than I was. And I will continue to get stronger, day after day.

 “Doesn’t happen overnight, but you turn around a month’s gone by,

And you realize you haven’t cried.

I’m not giving you an hour or a second or another minute longer,

I’m busy getting stronger.”

And these few words really say it all when it comes to my experience in recovery. I felt like I was getting nowhere. Going to appointments, following meal plans, going against my instincts day after day. I was so motivated and so determined to get better. However, I swore that I never felt any better than the day before. Nothing seemed to be working. Again, this was Ed talking.

After a while, I started noticing myself walking into my pantry at home and grabbing a handful of trail mix. My fiancé would wasn’t up for cooking dinner so we decided to go out and I would go without looking up the menu and nutrition information on my phone. My hair was growing, my eyes were a little wider, I was able to sleep more peacefully.

All of a sudden, things were changing. And this wasn’t irony, it wasn’t by coincidence. It was because I spent every minute of every day fighting. Sure, I felt weak sometimes. But it didn’t just click. It wasn’t just like all of a sudden I could completely ignore Ed’s voice. I didn’t just wake up and decide I was going to get better. It was the small steps, day after day. It was facing those challenge foods, even if it was just drinking a half glass of milk twice a week or eating real peanut butter instead of PB2. And sure, there were some big steps in there too. I got rid of my scale. I donated my “anorexia clothes” knowing that once I was healthy, wearing the clothes would be triggering.

I guess what I am getting at is, recovery isn’t quick. And it may seem like you’re getting nowhere. But all of a sudden, it’ll hit you. Things are changing. And you are getting so much stronger.

 “Woke up late today, and I still feel the sting of the pain.

But I brushed my teeth anyway, got dressed through the mess and put a smile on my face.

I got a little bit stronger.”

 Recovering.

 “Stupid song made me think of you,

I listened to it for a minute, then I changed it.

I’m getting a little bit stronger.”

 Recovering.

And, the most important, the most powerful, the chorus of the song.

 “I’m done hoping that we can work it out,

I’m done with how it feels,

Spinning my wheels, letting you drag my heart around.

I’m done thinking that you could ever change.

I know my heart will never be the same,

But I’m telling myself I’ll be okay.

Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger.”

Ed is not going to change. It is not going to get better, you are never going to be able to manage it, you will NEVER have a healthy relationship with Ed. You need to be done with that relationship. Stop letting Ed control you, it does not deserve to. YOU DESERVE TO BE STRONG AND FEEL STRONG. Tell yourself it’ll be okay. Your heart will never be the same, and that’s the amazing thing about recovery. When recovered, you will be new, you will be you, and you will be free.

Maybe your breakup with your high school sweetheart or whoever it was was a lot messier than mine. There’s a good chance it ended in a lot of tears, maybe you are still a little broken hearted, wondering if you should go back or not.

But I can guarantee, everyone who breaks up with Ed will have the same sort of story. Your breakup won’t leave you brokenhearted or second guessing. It will leave you happy, authentic, and strong. And it will be the best decision you will EVER make.

Your worst days in recovery are exponentially better than your best days in your disorder or your relapse. And what may feel like your weakest days in recovery will make you exponentially stronger than what seem to be your strongest days in your disorder or relapse. Never, ever forget that.

Emma Williams

Social Media Manager

Davenport, IA