Recovering from and eating disorder is one of the scariest things a person can do. It’s not like other illnesses or addictions – people with eating disorders often have more reasons to stay with their disorder than to leave it, I know when I took a closer look at my willingness and ambiguity in recovery (click here to view the post) I found that when I was really honest with myself, there were very few reasons to recover that actually mattered to me. As much as I hated being sick, I thought that I needed my disorder to stay alive, to cope with life, to be a person I could live with, to be able to live day to day. Not only did I need my disorder but I liked the way it made me look and the control it gave me over my life, sometimes I even felt superior to those “weaker” than me who gave in to their food temptations. When I purged I felt good, relaxed, back in control and as if I had “cheated the system” when those who I ate with had to live with the calories in their bodies. I was very ensnared.
I have said before that recovery is like cutting the cords of a bunch of helium balloons tied to a rock, allowing them to float away and be free. This is incredibly difficult because your disorder has been your whole life for a long time. I know personally my disorder was my moral compass, my religion, my be all end all for almost 12 years. Cutting the threads to it seemed not only difficult but impossible and at first I felt so desperate, as if I had nothing to hold on to and was free-falling. I realize now that recovery is more of a 2 sided approach, cutting the threads that bind you to your disorder while creating threads to a new life, the happy life that awaits you. You create these ties by finding positive things in your life and creating what is called a life worth living. For ideas of how to start taking these positive steps, click here.
I have worked very hard to create a life worth living; I got a dog, a great job, spent more time with my friends, got involved in the community, started working towards my goal of starting a family with my husband and started doing incredibly well! Having these things to hold on to helped immensely when I was faced with obstacles in my recovery. I knew that if I were to relapse all these things I had in my new life would suffer. It would not only mean doing poorly at my job because of an inability to concentrate, but it would postpone my family planning and going to treatment would be really hard on my puppy, my husband, our finances and my job. I didn’t want any of that to happen so I was able to work through urges instead of succumbing to them.
Lately I have started getting involved in a lot of eating disorder causes, I am not only doing my website and this blog but arranging to be a speaker about recovery in the community. I have already been a guest speaker once and am looking at doing it again in August and hopefully talking to people in my old transition group at the hospital when I am further along the road to recovery. I have been immersing myself in recovery and making my progress very public. At first this felt like a desperate way to keep me in recovery – I couldn’t relapse after I had spoken out about my recovery to so many people – I couldn’t let them down! For a while it felt like a way to hold me in recovery when the urges for relapse were strong – but now I am looking at it with a bit of a different spin! Doing all of this is part of my way to create a life worth living, I am simply creating more ties to the recovery side of the bridge instead of the relapse side.
The more ties you throw out to the recovery side of this tug of war, the less of a pull the disorder will have and the easier it will be to let go. Trying to let go of the eating disorder without any ties to recovery and a life worth living makes it nearly impossible to let go so support yourself through this journey and start making these connections to a recovered life today.
The best part? You have all the string and it is the choices you make that determine whether you are creating more ties to relapse or recovery. Where you end up is completely in your control!