Why should you even care to recover?
When the first thoughts of recovery started to occupy my mind back in late fall 2010, this questions was constantly going through my head. I still saw the life I led as too good to give up.
Why should I throw everything away, leave my husband for months and fight against this mysterious beast inside? Why should I give up a body that was so unnoticeable and therefor tolerable in order to gain weight and loathe myself even more?
Why should I change anything if life would always be sad and bleak? I could just go on like this and pretend that I am fine. I was still functioning and I would certainly know when to stop.
Eating disorders might kill others, but my anorexia would never kill me.
Knowing what I know now, I am terrified by these deceptive thoughts that are so horribly dangerous. Had I continued a few months longer on this path of self-destruction, I would have lost my life. I was in a state of confusion, sadness, emptiness and carelessness. My perception of reality was completely distorted.
I am glad I woke up just enough to start the process of healing before a disaster might have occurred.
When you recover, you give up a lot of things. You feel like you lose your life, everything you knew or thought you knew about yourself. But the truth is, you don’t.
You leave behind all the negativity that has surrounded you for so many years, in my case more than a decade. You give up destructive patterns and life-threatening behaviors and you transform yourself in ways you could have never imagined before.
I know that when you are in the midst of your eating disorder, you feel like nothing makes sense, life is just a series of horrible days, everything seems grey, bleak and hollow. You are, to put it mildly, in hell.
It is hard to imagine anything other than this. It is almost impossible to believe that life can be colorful, that feelings don’t have to hurt, that being healthy is not an unachievable goal, reserved for other, luckier people.
When friends, therapists or nutritionists tell you that your life can turn around, they lie, right? When they want to help you, they actually just want to hurt you. When they share their concern, they just want to make you feel inferior. When they tell you you need to gain weight in order to survive, they only want to fatten you like an animal.
Oh, how I know these thoughts, and how wrong they are. So utterly, utterly wrong.
I wish I had learned sooner that the people around me truly loved me and that they were incredibly scared of this disease that had captured me. I wish I could have cared. I wish I could have seen how rich life could be and how precious every moment is. I wish I could have opened my eyes and my heart to all the beauty surrounding me.
But now, one year into recovery, I have lifted my point of view and what I see is bombastic.
Today I see what everybody around me had been talking about for so long. I feel the vibrant lust for life that others experience and I am, for the first time ever, thrilled and grateful to be alive.
Working on myself and letting go off my eating disorder has completely changed every single aspect of my existence.
I feel the hope and the opportunity that each day embodies. I wake up full of energy, excited about the possibilities of the day. I am no longer the bundle of weakness I was a year ago, but full of energy and drive.
I can be spontaneous and make plans without them interfering with my ridiculous workout routine. I am able to drink a cup of my beloved Mocha at Starbucks without my eating disorder reprimanding me or calculating how long I’d have to slave away at the gym in order to burn the calories I consumed.
I am able to enjoy simply sitting on the couch with my husband, cuddling up to him while watching a movie. I love talking to a friend without having a guilty conscience that I am not exercising.
I appreciate my husband giving me a delicious chocolate mini cake for Valentine’s Day without freaking out about the calories and I enjoy every single bite while eating it.
I learned that I am not just a hollow shell, but I have potential and I have so much love to give.
I can be creative again using the space in my mind that used to be taken up by my eating disorder. I started to crawl out of my shell and actually learn to have self-confidence. I started to believe in myself and in the work I do and therefor have been more efficient and productive than ever before. I can even say that I am proud of myself without feeling ashamed.
I feel deeply, intimately and madly in love with myself and my body; a body with curves, imperfections and flaws, but so unique and forever mine. By learning to love the person that I am, I was also able to begin to love my husband on an infinitely deeper level. I am now a much better wife and lover.
I now notice the beauty in so many things that used to mean nothing to me. My taste buds have been in a state of ecstasy in the last year because of all the different, new kinds of food they were allowed to experience.
I learned to express anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, agony or even joy without binging and purging. I don’t feel bad about feeling good about myself. I am no longer paralyzed by fear. I learned to confront it and practiced kicking it in the butt by doing it over and over again.
Problems don’t seem to be unresolvable anymore, they simply are challenges that can be mastered and that provide me with a chance to grow as a person.
Recovery teaches you many things, not only the art of eating regularly. When you recover, you learn life-changing skills that help you in all aspects of your life.