**I wrote this a few weeks ago when all of this went down but have been nervous about posting it for some reason. I was afraid no one would care or that it come across as bragging because a lot of people I know are struggling right now but then I realized that who cares if no one cares? This was pretty big for me and I guess I should be proud of it because other people would be. I need to start remembering that my recovery is my recovery, no matter what.**
Intention: be mindful
Feelings: excited…? Can I say that about recovery? Is that allowed?
At treatment, we had meal processing after every meal. The same 5 questions again and again. I hated them. I thought they were redundant and useless, but since coming home, they’ve become a pretty useful tool. At first, I used them all of the time. It was my attempt to try and bring some normalcy into this huge transition but now that I’ve been able to get into a routine they aren’t as necessary. However, I do try and use them to check in after some meals, especially ones that I know are going to be hard and I knew that breakfast on Monday was going to be hard.
I was a leader at a church camp last week, and while I absolutely loved it, it completely threw my schedule off and required me to basically give up all control when it came to food. My first day was a mess. I was able to eat everything but my ED thoughts were screaming, to the point that I couldn’t focus on anything and wasn’t present at all. I was afraid that if every day was like that I definitely wouldn’t have been able to make it through the week. This week is one of my favorite weeks of the year and I said going into it that I didn’t want to let ED ruin it, so I had to figure out how to get ED out of there, and I did.
I cut myself off from the outside world, pretty much. Well, except for Snapchat, I couldn’t get quite abstain from that one. 😉 I completely invested myself into being present during the week, pouring myself into my girls, and just having fun with people that I really only get to see once a year. I learned that if I didn’t talk about ED and make him the center of my thoughts, it wasn’t so bad. I mean, he was still there but still. The week was filled with a ton of fear foods and challenges, and ED definitely reminded me of them, but I wasn’t going to let them ruin this week.
So I fought back. A lot more than I probably would have in a typical week. I ate whatever was served, no matter how much ED hated it. If there was some kind of dessert with the meal, I ate it. If it was something I’ve been too scared to try since leaving treatment, I ate it.
So back to my breakfast. Once camp was over, the reality of what I had done all week began to set in. While I was driving back to my apartment, ED wasted no time and I started obsessing over everything.
“Holy shit, what did you do?” “For real? You can actually justify eating like that?” “Good job, you didn’t restrict even though you could have buuut…you also definitely ate over your meal plan a few days so you suck.”
All sorts of things. I suddenly got really anxious about my weight. I was suddenly 100% convinced that I had gained a significant amount of weight that week. I was going to get home and none of my clothes would fit and ED would be able to say, “See, told ya so,” and it would be devastating.
I didn’t weigh myself for a couple of day mostly because I was in a pretty low place and I knew that seeing the number and it being a lot higher than I thought it was “supposed” to be would just make it worse.
Tuesday morning, I just did it. I (well ED) decided that not knowing was making me more anxious and that I just needed to suck it up and deal with the consequences of my actions. So I took a deep breathe, stepped on to the scale, and waited for ED to say, “I told ya so,” …but it didn’t come.
The number was the same. (Actually it was a tiny bit lower than before I had left.) I couldn’t believe it. I continued to step on and off the scale, convinced that the scale was broken, but the same number popped up every time.
I just stood there for a few seconds staring at it.
All I could think was, “Holy. Crap.”, and then a mountain of other thoughts of disbelief. At first, I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was. And then it hit me.
I could trust my body.
My body actually knows what it’s doing and it knows how to take care of me. It didn’t completely shut down because I ate more than usual or because I wasn’t following my meal plan exactly. I had a cheeseburger, cookies, and candy in the same day and nothing catastrophic happened to my insides. My intestines didn’t explode from having too many “unhealthy” foods at once or something that I’m sure I thought would happen.
Nothing changed. At all.
Actually, that’s a lie. Things did change. I had lots of things reaffirmed for me and I learned some new stuff too, but what matters is that all of them were positive. All of them were counterproductive to ED’s agenda. All of them were steps forward on the path of recovery.
I’m realizing that ideas that I thought were impossible in my recovery (e.g. actually being happy with my body or being thankful for all that it does, or whatever) are possible. All of these ideas that therapists and friends and whoever told would come actually happened. And they were actually really good things. I have a new sense of motivation that I had lost. I’m starting to accept the idea that in order to completely recover, I can’t keep any part of ED, even the parts I see as inconsequential. I realized that I can’t “want to recover” but eat as little as possible, or “want to recover” and not ever eat fear foods. It’s just not possible.
So yeah, I had a revelation. And it makes me, dare I say, excited for the future and for recovery. It’s like I’m finally starting to see the end, even though it’s really far away and there are lots of mountains and such between us. Before, I just had to trust other people telling me it was there but now I know for sure that they definitely weren’t lying to me this entire time.
So yeah. I am feeling excited for recovery, like actually really really excited. I’m allowed to feel excited about recovery, and I gotta tell ya it feels pretty damn good.
Go kick some ass this week.