For those of you who are unaware, last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I spent most of my blogging time deciding whether or not to acknowledge it but, today, I feel like it is something that can't just pass me by.
Why didn't I think I could write about it? To be entirely honest, I don't feel "fit" to write about being recovered. Almost like my stage in recovery isn't successful enough to share it with others. I've put on enough weight to be "healthy," I quit the three-a-day workouts, I indulge on occasion, and I look like I am beyond healed. For the most part, I think I have done pretty well, but I also spend twenty four hours a day in my own head and I know the things that go on in there.
I know the part of me that avoids getting dressed because a lot of my size 0 shorts don't fit right anymore. I feel the depth of satisfaction when friends find old pictures of me at my lowest and rave about how thin I was. I long for the iron-minded ability to walk past any tempting food without thinking twice about it. The feeling of accomplishment that came with my routine life. I was like a robot, everyday the same thing. Part of me still longs to be that way again. It was safe. I was in complete control.
Until I wasn't.
My brain wasn't associated with my heart anymore. It was like someone had a remote control and everything was black and white. There was perfection and then there was absolutely unacceptable. The in-between was nonexistent.
Having this experience in my past makes me feel the need to tell you what recovery looks like for someone who really lives this disease. It's not like TV where they quit cold turkey and everything is beautiful and they ride off into the sunset with the love of their life. That thin body you spent so much time achieving doesn't stay with you. Actually, it fades rather quickly; much more quickly than you regain control of your mind. There will still be days you miss the old you, but you can't give up there. You can't forfeit the war when you lose the first battle. As you win more and more often, your enemy backs off a bit. The battles get easier.
Recovery isn't black and white. It's that murky grey like the full clouds in the midst of a rain storm. It looks like your journey is complete but, sometimes, old tendencies creep back in. Recovery isn't the next step up from rock bottom. There is a very genuine and very progressive journey from one to the other. It doesn't make you a failure at recovery, it makes you REAL.
Someone needs to take the glamour out of the word recovery and remind those who are struggling what it really looks like. You won't be perfect at recovery; not now, not ever. It's about progress, not perfection.
NEDA week is about bringing truth to the surface. It's over now, but that doesn't mean that the conversations and interventions need to end. Share the truth with someone you love today. Remind them to have grace for themselves through the process.