Good morning! I have today off of work, which never happens, and I don’t entirely know what to do with myself. So, I might as well write a little something!
In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I am reflecting today on the gradual transformation of my recovery experience. Looking back through my food and exercise logs from two years ago, when my habits were becoming increasingly disordered alongside logs from one year ago, several months into my recovery journey, it is evident to me how much more beautiful recovery has made my life. The process has felt slow and there have been countless moments of panic and pain, but recovery is worth it.
Two Years Ago…
I exercised for at least an hour and a half every day and chose exercise over friends, family, and sleep.
There were sores on the backs of my legs from sitting on the stationary bike at the gym.
I counted the calories in black coffee and calorie-free coffee syrup (WTF?).
I exercised in my bedroom while on spring break visiting my brother.
I was too hungry to think clearly and spent most of the time with my brother in an irritated haze.
I weighed myself stealthily on the same trip.
I had a sip of my dad’s milkshake from Arby’s and felt racked with guilt afterward.
I could no longer fully enjoy food, physical activity, people, or life.
One Year Ago…
I still ate only artificially sweetened, nonfat yogurt and was too fearful to try anything else.
If somebody offered me an unplanned food, I responded with anger and irritability rather than humility.
I counted calories in Emergen-C if I dared consume it.
I counted out a precise number of almonds to put in my breakfast each day.
If I didn’t go to the gym on a given day, I would go on excessively long walks and do dozens of floor exercises at home (while hungry, of course).
I isolated myself almost entirely. A trip out of town for the day was nearly enough to put me over the edge. If I did choose to engage with others, it was solely to distract from hunger.
I am still abstaining from formal exercise in an effort to continue on my path of recovery, and I know that it is the right choice for me.
I have no sores from exercise equipment, and my body is much more capable of healing itself when I do get injuries.
I drank multiple cups of coffee today, not counting the calories in a single one. And calorie-free coffee syrup? Don’t come near me with that shit.
I can lie on the floor and read Charlotte’s Web to the boy that I babysit for hours without panicking about being too sedentary.
I have not known my weight in 5 months. It feels a little frightening, but it also feels inexplicably liberating and exhilarating.
I went out for drinks with coworkers the other day and sampled a bite of somebody’s ice cream without berating myself afterwards. If I am offered a taste of something and I am hungry and want to taste it, I fucking do.
I can look forward to things other than my next meal. I can laugh with friends and wholeheartedly engage in conversation without thinking about how many calories I have burned. I am beginning to have a life again, and it is the most beautiful experience imaginable.
If you are pursuing your own recovery and feeling discouraged, please know that it does get better. I remember walking into my therapist’s office on my very first visit, utterly terrified that I was too far gone and convinced that I couldn’t be saved. A few months later, I had hope for a future. A year after that, I am planning for that future and I am planning on living it as a healthy, recovered person. Disordered behaviors and attitudes are slow to fade, but I believe wholeheartedly that I will only improve from here with patience and hard work. Recovery is worth it. It is worth the pain, the anxiety, the weight gain, and the fear. It is worth all of it.