I feel that if the problem hasn’t gone away by summer, I will seek counseling.
That is my promise to myself.
That’s the funny thing about you. And it’s a lesson I’m grateful to have learned early on. You don’t just “go away,” because eating disorders don’t just disappear with willpower and blind faith alone. That’s why they are categorized as mental illnesses instead of diets. Mental illnesses instead of developmental phases. Mental illnesses instead of lifestyle changes.
There is much scientific debate and controversy about this idea of achieving recovery or being “in recovery”, and my therapist actually asked me the other day, What do you think recovery will feel like?
I started, Well I know it’s different for everyone, to which, she replied, I’m not concerned about everyone. What do you think it will feel like for YOU?
I don’t remember exactly how I worded it to her then, but it’s on my mind right now.
I think, first and foremost, recovery brings a sense of balance, in that it diminishes the preoccupied thoughts and obsession surrounding the disorder. It honors the gray area, blurring the rigid black-and-white thinking. Recovery offers hope, in a quiet whisper at first, that life can be more than an eating disorder or the absence of an eating disorder. And then, I imagine the hope just deepens into this warm security blanket, into something we don’t have to worry about losing so long as we keep it on our beds.
Recovery will always be a gift, and, because of that, I know I cannot take any of its miracles for granted. It ultimately comes down to acceptance: acceptance of what I choose to eat or not eat, acceptance for what I look or don’t look like. But accepting food and my body are just at the tippy-top of the surface. These are what I thought the eating disorder was about. However, it goes so much deeper: true recovery means having the WILLINGNESS to release perfectionism, let go of control, and essentially “grow up.”
You, Bee, are the representation of my neglected and fearful inner child. You are the manifestation of my negative feelings of unworthiness and insecurity. Recovery means knowing that your voice is a part of me. Some days, that voice may be loud. Other days, it may be quieter. Can I expect for it to disappear entirely? At this point in time, that seems unrealistic. For right now, I know you are manageable. I know you can be at any corner, waiting for me. I know what places, people, and things tend to bring you out of the shadows. I need to be aware of your presence, but more importantly, I need to have action-orientated mechanisms to cope with you during times of stress.
Recovery will feel amazing. It will be one of the hardest things I ever do, but the rewards will be worth any of the obstacles. The gratitude will be immeasurable. Recovery will bring freedom, in the sense that I will no longer feel any need to live a life driven by compulsion or anxiety. Recovery will allow room for mistakes, but recovery will simply view them as a slight flare, rather than as a slide to continue spiraling downwards. Recovery will allow me to deepen my relationships with myself, with others, and with the entire world.
Recovery will show me that I absolutely needed to go through every hardship, setback, struggle, helpless cry, angry plea, mindless rant, terrifying risk, impossible obstacle, leap and bound. Recovery will prove that every single one of those was absolutely worth it.