I no longer record each minuscule crumb and drop entering my body. The moments pass in both flashes and crawls, but regardless the moment— I’m here and safe. Not yet where I would like to be, but far from the place I was.
Recovery has a funny way of gradually settling.
There’s no vivid line in my life where I was able to say “I won.” Yet, there are lines in my journey delegating important turning points.
Each time I said “yes” to treatment, I signified the internal fighter and child’s needs in a simultaneous manner.
Each day, week, month and year tracked are scattered with signs of me walking away from the monster that is my eating disorder. Perhaps these big-little things are just something I notice, but I would like to imagine others picture recovery in this continually beautiful, ambiguous, and changing shape, too.
So then— what exactly is recovery?
This is something I have spent a great deal of time reflecting upon. When do we, as warriors, know that the monsters will stop encroaching?
When does our mind stop shooting guttural insults and start consistently showing us compassion? At what point will we suddenly accept and love our bodies through their changes? Will we ever come to a point of acknowledging we are enough as is?
Honestly, I am not entirely sure. Perhaps it will always be a bit of a struggle.
I realize the heaviness in such candid statements. Statements like these can be enough to want to give up at times.
I feel your pain, and the aching of uncertainty in steps forward and leaps back. I want you to know that setbacks are never failures, so long as you keep trying to stand once again.
How do we define recovery?
If recovery is more of a slow, gradual shift than a dramatic, one day fix, how do you know if you’re on the right track? What even is recovery? I think these 3 things are signs that you’re on the road to recovery.
1. Acknowledge the issue
The first step lies in acknowledging the trial at hand. I refrain from saying “issue” because we are not problems in and of ourselves.
I want you to know warriors, that we may fail, but we are not failures.
We may struggle with an “issue”, but it is so critical to understand you yourself are not, nor have you ever been the issue. When we define the trials and bring them into the darkness, they no longer wield such a stronghold in our lives.
2. Do something about the issue
The second piece of recovery lies in accountability and the active approach of doing something about the problem.
As warriors, each day may not be a breath of fresh air. I get it. But we do have the choice to actively pursue a life of freedom and contentment. When I choose to maintain contact with my treatment team (two years post relapse), I’m choosing to actively pursue staying healthy.
I may be doing well now, but it’s only because of the moments when I let it all out and screamed at my doctors, forcing myself to process the big feelings and difficult moments. This would have never been possible without my village. We all have villages: doctors, therapists, friends, family, perhaps religion.
But the bottom line is— find someone to help. You deserve it.
3. Commit to self-compassion
In the third piece of recovery, I believe we have the act of loving ourselves even when we feel unlovable.
Thin and fat are not emotions. But the voice in your head is worth listening to.
In order to process the deeper issue, we must ask the mind to spill its confessions, and from there we let them go. I find that over time, the voice softens and by releasing Ed’s toxins, I gain back my body, mind and spirit.
Mostly, I think we must be kind to ourselves. Recovery is not linear, nor is it intended to be.
Ultimately, I define recovery as the active pursuit to love. When we love ourselves, we admit we are not perfect, but we also don’t have to be.
We are enough. You are enough. Chase your dreams, warrior— there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.