Anybody with an eating disorder, or who has vicariously experienced one through a loved one, likely knows that rest is a challenge. It’s a major challenge. Rest is an eating disorder’s worst enemy. Rest leaves you vulnerable to self-criticism, to critique, and to all of the
shit stuff that you try to repress through constant activity.
I come to this post in the middle of a big recovery challenge week. One of my very best friends, Alli, has been planning on coming to visit for months now and she is finally here! For a whole week! It’s so exciting to my healthy, rational self. But it scares the bejesus out of my disordered self. How will I get my workouts in? How will I control my food? How will I feel productive with an entire week off of work? As the date approached for Alli’s arrival, my anxiety spiked. But I had to confront the reality that it was my disorder that was anxious, that wanted to sneak in exercise at every turn, and that wanted to default to under eating just in case I wasn’t burning enough calories.
This week has been tough in a lot of ways, but it has been wonderfully challenging as well. It has challenged me to remember what matters most to me in life. These things include but are not limited to friends, laughter, cats, trashy television, good coffee every day, and window shopping for things I can’t afford. They do not include obsessively burning or counting calories or choosing safety over taking wonderful challengers. It has challenged me to feed my body regardless of my activity level. It has challenged me to embrace the things about myself that brought about this and many other beautiful friendships in my life and see the ways in which my disorder has beaten down the person I used to be.
I’m still anxious. I’m still scared. But I don’t want to look back on this week, my disorder proud of me for starving the whole time and exercising excessively while my healthy self is ashamed of prioritizing those things over my beautiful friend who has come all the way out to visit me. Whenever I can remember that and set aside the anxiety, it’s a victory. And we’re having a great time! Not to mention, my body is probably relieved to have a break from the constant movement I usually subject it to. Not counting calories has also been helpful, because it’s much harder for me to obsess about whether or not I deserve food based on exercise when I’m not keeping track of calories. This is a highly disordered thought that I need to get rid of anyway, so this a great opportunity to challenge it. Every day has ups and downs and no day is perfect, but I am trying my best to soak up the rest and love my friend while she’s here!