They say eating disorders are not about food. That food and weight control are simply symptoms of an underlying issue. So it seems reasonable to assume that recovery from an eating disorder is not all about food.
It’s about sitting up at night with your roommates, eating pizza and laughing. It’s about early afternoon brunch fests with the girls. It’s about egg and cheese omelets, and chocolate chip pancakes. It’s getting that Frappuccino that looks yummy at Starbucks. It’s about stopping randomly at Rita’s for that ice cream cone, and eating it without remorse. It’s about buying a bag of gummy bears and sharing them at the movie theater with friends. It’s about eating an apple because you feel like it, not because it is “low cal.” It’s about getting rid of the diet food- the sugar free mints, the skim milk, the soda with the weird aftertaste. It’s about going out to sushi and getting the rainbow roll, because it looks good. It’s trying something new when you’re out to dinner because you feel adventurous, and not calculating the calories in your head. It’s about eating the next meal, even if you felt like you ate a lot earlier. It’s eating regardless of if you are having a bad day. It is donuts and chocolate chip cookies and vanilla cream frosting. It’s scheduling time in for lunch even when you are bogged down during a busy workday. It’s going out to dinner with your family and not frantically looking up the menu beforehand. It’s drinking juice instead of water because you are craving the juice dammit. It’s eating a salad when you feel like it, and a burger the next day, when you feel like that. It’s nourishing your body not because you need to, but because you want to. Recovery is about enjoying food again, eating to nourish and fuel you body, and eating because the food tastes good.
But ok. Lets be real. It’s about much more than food.
It’s about taking back control of your life. It’s about letting go of rituals and numbers. It’s about finally stepping off the food-bondage carousel ride from hell, and working to stand up straight while the worlds feels like it is reeling underneath your shaky feet.
It’s about letting yourself be “perfectly imperfect.” It’s reading that paper that is due tomorrow two times, and then going to sleep. It’s about letting yourself get a full nights sleep. It’s about dreaming of things other than food. It’s about taking naps when your body needs a rest. It’s about going to bed when the floor isn’t vacuumed and the laundry isn’t done.
It’s about staying home from the gym when you are sick and honoring your body. It’s about jumping off the treadmill gerbil wheel, and jumping into that yoga class instead, because you are now exercising for fun! It’s about giving up the guilt of not exercising and letting yourself relax.
It’s about rejecting diet culture, though it may seem as everyone else in the world subscribes to it. It’s about living at your set point and finding peace with it. It’s about walking away from the mirror, the scale, the measuring tape, and walking into the real parts of life. It’s about fully participating in those real parts of life.
Recovery is coming home to yourself. It is about learning who you are, and being proud of it. It’s calling the ED out on the smokescreen and trickery. It’s about talking back to that ED voice, telling him to shut the hell up, telling him to f-off, telling him that you have a life to live, and one that he no longer dictates. It’s about letting go of the pseudo-control that comes along with counting calories, and stepping into taking true control of your life.
Recovery is vulnerability. It is about letting yourself feel the feelings. Even the messy ones. It is about learning how to surf those urges, instead of succumbing immediately to them. It is about recognizing that feelings are not facts. It is about honoring your emotions. It is about living in the present moment. It is about screaming, sobbing, hitting a pillow on the bad days. It is about recognizing that all of that is preferable to being numbed out from the world. It is about taking risks and making mistakes. It is about crying when you need to, and laughing too loudly without a second thought. It is about snorting while you laugh and smiling the smiles that make your eyes crinkle. It’s about asking for a hug when you need one. Recovery is about believing the fact that they will accept you regardless of your weight, that you don’t have to punish your body to earn their love.
It’s about hanging out with friends. It’s about being worried about judgment, but doing it anyway. It’s about wearing pretty clothes, getting dolled up, and going out on the damn town. Recovery is going out with people that you don’t know as well. It’s about having a spontaneous cup of coffee with that co-worker that seems like she would be cool to hang out with. It is going out to do something when you feel like staying home and isolating. Recovery is about connection. It is about love.
Recovery is acknowledging the eating disorder, without making it your identity. Is about respecting your journey, letting yourself recognize that you walked through hell, also reminding yourself that that part of your life is over. It is reminding yourself that their diet is your eating disorder, and holding yourself accountable to your Achilles hell, while simultaneously not letting this fact paralyze you with fear. It is learning how to think your own thoughts, and becoming independent from ED.
Recovery is a process. It is going for it even when you are not ready. It is trusting your journey. It is a series of leaps of faith. It is not comparing your middle to someone else’s end. It is planning for the relapse, then eating lunch anyway. It is actually relapsing, then getting up again. It is recognizing that the most inspirtational of all people are not those who never fell, but who fell once, twice, ten times and kept getting back up. It is being terrified but showing up anyway. It is courage. It is never giving up hope that you will break free of this eating disorder.
Recovery. It is the hardest, most rewarding journey that you will ever take. So come on, take the step forward. I promise you wont regret it.