Recovery is different for everyone. For me, it has been a long, winding, and sometimes very lonely path. It often feels like just as I find my footing and make real progress, something slips. When I least expect it, I get tripped up by something that seems as trivial as a damned pair of jeans. I am filled with doubt and wonder if I will ever truly be free of this disease. And yet, I always manage to find my way back to fighting against the disordered voice.
Part of me holds on to the hope that there really is so much more to life than worrying about calories, numbers, and fitting in to those favorite jeans.
I have fought, pushed, and sometimes crawled my way through this journey we call recovery. Throughout my life, my struggle with an eating disorder has changed and morphed. While my weight, my behaviors, and my pant size have gone up and down, one thing has remained constant.
As long as I am only focused on my size, I am not connected to those around me.
Remembering the blessings
So I find myself, waking up on a Saturday morning to the laughter of my children as they run down the hallway. I remember a dark time when I wondered if I would ever have my own family. That’s when I know that I am blessed.
I know that I am further in recovery than I have ever managed to be in the past. More open to the present. Far more connected to the people I love. I am hoping to evoke a positive change in the world around me. I want to help others and spread joy and love. No longer judging myself or others, I am curious and excited about what is coming in the future. These are the things that give me hope.
But those jeans…
And yet…. yet… I am still hung up on the pair of jeans I tried on yesterday. Like I said, for me, recovery has been a long, slow, drawn out process. As much as I have worked hard to take steps forward, I have done it slowly, controlled, and at my own pace.
Many times I have slipped back into the dark world of the eating disorder. And even my furthest steps forward have been taken with a grain of caution. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of all of the progress I have made and I am beyond grateful for all of those who have helped me to take these steps. My life today is filled with more love, laughter, and connection than it has ever been.
But the damned pair of jeans is sitting on my bed, practically screaming at me.
And I am afraid that perhaps that voice of doubt that is buried deep within me may be right. If you are reading this, I’m certain you know the voice I am talking about. The one that tells us we are not good enough. That if we just lose more weight maybe then we will be OK.
It is the voice of doubt that is like a seed. If I listen to it, it’s like watering a weed that is ready to grow and expand and take over all of the space within me. It is the same voice that tells me if I can no longer fit into those jeans that used to be baggy on me, I have truly “let myself go.”
What does it mean to “let yourself go”?
So I wonder, what if the voice is right? And what exactly does it mean to “let myself go?”
The voice tells me letting myself go means I am lazy. It means I am ugly. Worthless. Fat. Unlovable. But, what if holding on to this voice is actually letting go of myself. Not “letting myself go”.
And by letting go of myself, I am sinking into the eating disorder and truly losing myself. What if I am letting go of my potential to love, connect, and even heal?
What if the real key to recovery, for me, is changing the script in my head?
Instead of fighting so hard against letting myself go, I fight against letting go of myself. What if, instead, I hold on to myself. By nourishing, caring for, and even loving myself.
By outgrowing those jeans, perhaps I am outgrowing the belief that smaller is better.
That we are only our bodies, and that happiness can be determined by a number on a scale. And instead of letting myself go, I am choosing to hold on to myself. Perhaps the only thing I need to let go of is the eating disorder itself.