My eating disorder ruled my life for years.
I lived in a constant state of anxiety, depression, and malnourishment, and considered it a lifestyle. The darkness of my mind began to creep into my body. It slowly took over everything.
As I began the treacherous road recovering from an eating disorder, I had this vision of what recovery was—radiant, happy, productive, famous amongst my peers, family, and friends for the depths I had risen from.
I stand firm in my recovery today; I do not struggle at all. But there are some things I wish I had known about what it means to be a physically and emotionally recovered human.
I remember, before I recovered, seeing the people I looked up to—they always seemed so at peace, so whole, all the time. And that simply isn’t the case.
Full recovery means that we do feel. We feel everything. We feel all those powerfully wrought emotions we tried so hard to stifle by starving, exercising, binging, and purging. We feel the rawness of those emotions in our hearts.
But the difference is that now we know how to feel those emotions. We know that feeling them when they arise is the best way to cope. We know how to process them. We no longer let those emotions fester.
We also can feel the highs, appropriately. We can embrace them and tuck them into the corner of our hearts for when we need them the most. We can share cherished experiences with others, and accept the compliments or praise we previously knocked down with self-doubt.
And every day isn’t perfect.
Sometimes we’ll react in anger, but we now have the grace to know ourselves. And we can apologize when we aren’t our best selves. And the people we care about most, and the ones who care about us, will always listen and forgive.
I’ve also come to learn, with years between the thick of my eating disorder, that not everyone needs to know our struggles (or deserves to). I used to tell everyone as if it was some defining characteristic of who I was. Now, people see me for who I am in my authenticity. And, that’s all they need to know about me.
That scared little girl silently screaming for help in her sick little body no longer defines me, but she helped me to grow into a version of myself that I can say I love.
I’m looking forward to how much more I will grow, and still hold gratitude for the less evolved me.