Hey beautiful child of the universe,
It’s hard right now. But I want you to think of where you were a year ago. Back when recovery really began. Back when you had no idea what you were doing.
This is what’s going to happen over the course of one year for you.
In August, you’re going to start graduate school! You’re on your way to becoming a therapist. Everything is going to seem overwhelming, but you are going to meet so many incredible friends in your cohort, and you are going to learn some amazing knowledge about human behavior You are so passionate about this field. This is right where you belong. Oh, and don’t stress too much about the homework and tests…your clients aren’t EVER going to care about your grades. You’re going to kick ass on every single essay, because if you didn’t notice, you were born a writer 🙂
In September, you’re going to start really processing your emotions in therapy. This is going to be a huge challenge. You’re going to be defensive, and you’re going to minimize what’s going on. You’re going to think she’s judging EVERY SINGLE WORD YOU SAY. You’re going to try and brush off the severity of your disorder, and you’re going to pretend everything is okay. Fortunately, you have an intelligent therapist, and she’s going to read through your watery bullshit. You’re going to look forward to therapy. A lot. So much that you will develop a fear that you’re becoming dependent on it. Too dependent. That’s normal. It happens. Just ride it out.
In October, you’re going to go through a TON of shit with your ex-boyfriend. It’s going to literally wear you down. You will pick daily fights with him. You will take breaks. You will question love, happiness, and security. You will act indecisive, when deep down, you KNOW it’s over. It’s going to hurt to make that decision, but you’re getting close. You’re also going to tell your father about your eating disorder. It’s a scary step, but you are ready to make it. And I’m proud of you for taking that leap!
In November, you end the relationship. It’s abrupt and intense, but you’ve been emotionally checked out of it for months. He’s devastated, but you remain strong. You know you deserve better than his lies and empty promises. You know that you need to work on yourself. It’s going to be difficult to be single after living in the cushion of being someone else’s girlfriend, but this is an identity you need to become comfortable with. You need to learn how to love yourself! You’ll attend an Overeaters Anonymous meeting at the end of the month, because it is a free and local support group for people struggling with eating disorders and your therapist recommended it. You felt awkward and uncomfortable there, but you kept going, because you weren’t sure what else to do.
In December, you’ll begin making out with a lot of dudes. You start going out and drinking heavily. You like the attention, but you end up coming home and feeling empty. You don’t exactly know what dating is, but you’re determined to figure the game out. You end your first semester at school, and it feels great!! Recovery is hard at this point. Everything is new. Every meal is a challenge. You make this blog public and you get a HUGE, overwhelming response of positive feedback. This makes you so happy! Strangers like watching and reading about your journey! You have so many people supporting you.
In January, you decide to abstain from ALL sugar, and it works. For awhile. Then, you slip, and it scares you SO badly. You feel unsure about work. You’re just always busy. You’re very immersed into the OA philosophy and make it a point to adopt the Twelve Steps. You don’t have a sponsor, but you go to the meetings, read the literature, and write frequently. It’s still really hard at this point. You just feel stuck. Meal by meal. Breath by breath.
In February, you make the very emotional and difficult decision to quit a job that you love. You were only there for six months, but you were working two jobs averaging 42 hours a week and attending school full-time. You were busy from essentially 6am-10pm during the week. It was exhaustive. You were afraid of leaving your position. You feared the prospects of free time on your hands. You have been used to compulsive doing for so long that it seems unnatural and foreign to just relax and be. That’s okay. Hang in there! You’re going to be SO relieved that you quit. You reveal your eating disorder with a Facebook post for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and the positive feedback you receive is overwhelming. You are such a little rockstar.
In March, you end a friendship that meant everything to you. You actually planned on living with this girl and thought that you could ignore her alcoholism. You tried sweeping it under the rug until it became too enmeshed in your relationship with her. This was devastating, but it needed to be done. For your recovery and for hers. You start applying to internship sites, and the thought of becoming a real, live therapist terrifies you! So many interviews. You’re going to end up in an incredible agency. Just keep your chin up! You survive a minor house fire! Look at you. Oh, and you find a wonderful sponsor in OA, and she helps you through many dark points. Lucky you! Unfortunately, you slip again REALLY badly towards the end of the month. So badly that you actually end up getting food poisoning (don’t eat an entire roll of raw cookie dough, friends). This keeps you sick all weekend on a road trip to visit family. You felt hopeless, isolated, and scared. It’s going to be okay. I promise. The light eventually emerges. You need to go through hell first.
In April, you go to Vegas with friends, and it’s a wild weekend of drinking, partying, and all the young fun that comes with spring break. You end up securing a position at your top-choice agency! See how easy that was! The eating disorder fluctuates. You’ve developed a few coping skills, but it’s still tough, and you frequently feel preoccupied and anxious. You wonder when it’s going to feel better…you feel like you’re just waiting very patiently. Your therapist recommends consulting with a psychiatrist, but you decide to wait it out. That’s okay. When you’re ready, you can make that decision.
In May, you struggle. You feel like nothing is working, and it is incredibly painful. You just feel so triggered all the time!! I know it’s hard. You have to go through that agony, though. It’s part of the process, and that is exactly what anyone and everyone will tell you. The end of the month turns around with the conclusion of your first year of graduate school, your birthday, another impromptu trip to Vegas, and a trip to the river with your friend! You speak at an OA meeting and it goes really well! People are very inspired by your story. You start feeling confident in recovery.
In June, you struggle A LOT at the beginning. You feel hopeless. You call it a relapse. You’re fluctuating between starving and bingeing. Your body is constantly hurting. You spend a week caught in this turmoil. You hate everyone. I’m so sorry. You are desperate for help, and yet, you turn away from those who want to give it you. Your eating disorder is STRONG, so strong, but you’ll pull through. I promise. You’ll even cry in therapy! Look at you, expressing that emotion! I You’ll be leaning on people A LOT this month, but that’s all right. You’re allowed. At your lowest of lows, you contact a psychiatrist through your insurance company to make a consultation. He doesn’t give you an official diagnosis, but he puts you on Prozac. You’re willing to try anything at this point, despite the apprehension you have towards medication. Don’t stigmatize yourself. YOU deserve to feel better. You decide to take a break from OA for a variety of reasons: the rigidity, a general dislike in the Twelve Steps addiction philosophy for food, the somber and somewhat depressive atmosphere.
Oh, and you’re randomly going to meet the love of your life in the middle of the month. It’s going to be EPIC!!!
In July, you spend a month head-over-heels with the most amazing guy you’ve ever met. You both understand each other in a way nobody has, and EVERYTHING just feels so great. Hardest class of your program? No big deal. Gotta work? Who cares??Everything is amazing. It’s a month of staying-up-all-night talking, holding hands, spontaneous beach dates, raw and passionate sex, and nonstop laughing. You’re so happy, and you deserve it!!
In August, you’ll wander all around Europe. You won’t do laundry for eighteen days, but you WILL walk thousands of miles, sleep in dozens of hostel beds, interact with people all over the world, see the most beautiful, famous sights, eat food from every culture, and learn what it’s like to navigate this crazy world with just maps and public transportation. It’s going to be the trip of a lifetime, and you’ll GROW so much through this experience! You’ll come home and rejoice with your amazing boyfriend and spend the next week together before starting school.
In September, you’ll start seeing your first clients! Now you’re the therapist! See how far you’ve grown. The eating disorder voice has somewhat returned after a nice long summer vacation and you’ve been slipping into old behaviors, but it’s okay, because you have the tools now. You have the support now. It feels scary, but you can and you will do this.
Recovery has been your number one priority for twelve months, and you’re not about to reverse that now.