why I don’t regret a single moment spent with my eating disorder

Dear Bee,

I just want to say that I understand why you do what you do and why you exist in my life. I understand why you entered my life when you did and why you will leave it when you will. I understand how you work, and I understand WHY you work.

As much as I may loathe and resent your presence, I appreciate how my recovery from your toxicity is turning me into a more genuine and wholesome person than I could ever imagine.

For about a third of my life, you have been the caretaker of my unmet needs. You have been the mother filling these voids with your distorted version of nourishment and love. You took me under your wing, provided for me, and wrapped your secure blanket over my young body. What vulnerable girl, living in this world of heightened anxiety and fear, wouldn’t want that comfort? What vulnerable girl wouldn’t let you take her in?

Before my eating disorder, I never thought I could have an eating disorder. Now, I realize that I practically embody a textbook example for developing one.

I didn’t know any better. I thought you were just my inner critic dictating my food. I didn’t understand how you trickled into every aspect of my life, from my family dynamics to my interpersonal relationships to my professional and academic pursuits. I didn’t understand how recovering from you entailed literally healing and changing my perceptions and actions on ALL these aspects.  

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I want to thank you for all that you provided for me. Sincerely. I don’t know how many times I have stepped on a scale in my life. Maybe a million. I wish that was an exaggeration. I don’t know how many times I have turned down food out of fear of what it would do to me. I don’t know how many times I have emotionally eaten or binged. Hundreds? Thousands? I don’t know how many events or activities I declined because I had to work out. I don’t know how many minutes I have spent dwelling over what you do to me. Those may be minutes I never get back, but they are not among the moments I regret or would change.

With you, I remain a child trapped in a young adult’s body. With you, I am still dependent on your logic, rules, and decisions. With you, I am unable to fend for myself and live life on unrestricted terms. With you, I remain afraid, insecure, and skeptical.

I can outgrow you. I AM outgrowing you. 

What if I could live in recovery under the premise that you were one of my most precious gifts? That you were one of my greatest teachers? What if I could channel all my hatred towards how you make me act, believe, and think into unadulterated, uncompromising love?

My recovery is teaching me the most amazing lessons about myself. My recovery is absolutely, overwhelmingly beautiful. Because of my recovery, I cannot regret my eating disorder. Because of my recovery, I have realized just how SPECIAL this life can be.

I sat on the floor today with my therapist and strung bracelets with plastic beads. After spending all this time learning play therapy techniques for my own clients, I wanted to play myself. So, that’s what we did. We talked about my life sagas, sure, but I also realized something fundamental in this session: It’s okay to have problems. It really is. It’s not so much about how my life will be once that problem is eliminated, but, rather, how my life CURRENTLY IS as I work through and cope with that problem. 

 

And it’s okay to get down on the ground and spontaneously take a breather and play. It’s okay to make pretty bracelets designed for ages 6+. Life doesn’t have to be serious. It doesn’t have to hurt. It doesn’t have to feel heavy. 

Last week was necessary. Last week reminded me of the LIFE I once lived: the life you dominated, the life riddled with compulsion and control, the life labeled by my own sense of worthlessness and powerlessness. Last week hurt. It hurt a lot. But I needed it. I needed a reminder of who I want to be and who I absolutely CANNOT be. 

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Sometimes, we need to brave the most treacherous storms to see the brightest rainbows. Sometimes, we need to dance in the rain before we can see the sunshine again. 

My world right now, the breath I am breathing right now, is rocking those rainbows and sunshine. 

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What I Think Recovery Will Feel Like

03/09/2012

I feel that if the problem hasn’t gone away by summer, I will seek counseling.
That is my promise to myself.

Dear Bee, 

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. 

Falling asleep with a smile on my face

Dear Bee,

I can fall asleep right now feeling blessed, fortunate, and happy.

I can reflect on my day and feel grateful for all the extraordinary things that happened: the sound of rain in the morning, the beautiful sky, my coffee that tasted and smelled just right, wearing my favorite purple rain boots, an OA meeting that inspired me to write out all my attitude transformations, continuously exploring my growth and progress in my therapy session, eating a delicious and satisfying homemade lunch, being able to comfort one of my best friends this afternoon during a time of distress, KILLING my final presentation and making my entire class fall into laughing stitches with my creativity, catching up with some new friends, and enjoying my last full week of my first year of graduate school.

I receive and I give love.

I am who and where I want to be in this very moment.

I know I am where I need to be in this very moment.

I am aware of my journey, and I am grateful to be on it. I don’t have to worry about what happened yesterday or tomorrow. For right now, I am in recovery, and that is all that matters.

My life is one INSANE miracle.

 

 

Goodnight my sweet readers. You all amaze me.

 

The cliched post where I ask for recovery friends

Dear Bee,

Thanks for chilling out today and relatively leaving me alone. Feels good. Recovery is such an up-and-down journey! Mental illness is such a complex phenomenon. Everyone has their insecurities, weaknesses, and flaws. Maybe the key to happiness and balance isn’t to simply find a cure, but rather, to find a healthy way to manage.

I know some of my greatest role models are individuals suffering from chronic or severe illness (physical or mental) and yet, rather than dwell or confine to the stereotypes provided by their diagnosis, they FLOURISH.

They choose to make the MOST of their lives, despite the obstacles, despite the setbacks, despite the countless people telling them they CAN’T DO IT or they WON’T MAKE IT.

I will never let my eating disorder stop me from achieving the life I want. No way. You may have challenged, belittled, and attacked my strengths, but I will never let you ruin my quest for happiness and love. And I know that will involve a lot of fighting and battle scars…but at the end of the day, I want to use MY STORY to help others who are suffering.

My recovery very well may be the defining point of change in my life.

How exciting is that?! Talk about positive thinking!

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In other news, I have acquired quite a following on here within just the past month of publicizing my random love letters. You have no idea how blessed I feel to have all this support!! Just knowing that I am not alone in my struggles is so empowering.

I am currently seeking some “recovery” friends who are willing to walk through this journey together. If anybody is interested, please email me at loveletterstobee@gmail.com.

What am I looking for?

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-Individuals struggling/recovering/in recovery from an eating disorder (it doesn’t matter which one, but since my biggest obstacle has been overcoming bingeing, I would prefer people who have experience with that as well).

-Individuals who are available to chat everyday/most days via email, texting, Facebook, etc. I respect anonymity, so I do not mind if people want to keep their personal lives and identities private!

-Optimistic personalities! Yes, eating disorders can be a total DRAG, but I want to surround myself with positive support (no pro-ana or pro-mia people, please!)

-Open minds and tolerance. Everyone’s recovery is different. My way is no better than anyone else’s. I am open to hearing any suggestions/feedback/constructive criticism, and I would like individuals who are willing to take new insight as well!

What can I offer?

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^Sarcasm is my second language! 🙂

-Unconditional positive regard. No matter how “bad” you slipped or how “fat” you feel or how “deep” in your disorder you are, I will NEVER pose judgment. Ever. Eating disorders already keep us so wrapped in shame and humiliation. We can all use friendships with people who “know exactly what it feels like.” 

-Words of encouragement and motivation whenever needed!

-Privacy/anonymity if needed!

-Honesty. Yep. I will tell you EXACTLY what’s going on in my life concerning my recovery/eating disorder. The good, the bad, the anxiety, the guilt.

I don’t care about demographic details like age, sex, location, religion, etc. 🙂

Please email me if you would like to join me on our recovery marathons! Loveletterstobee@gmail.com