This morning I woke up in a better mood than I have in a long time. I’m not exactly sure what caused it; maybe it’s the beautiful weather, maybe it’s the tremendous outpouring of support I’ve received lately; maybe it’s just a stroke of good luck. I’m inclined to think it’s a combination of all three. Thank you all for responding so brilliantly to the letter I wrote yesterday; it was difficult to say but I’m glad I did. You have surpassed the already high opinion I have of you all and only increased the love I have for each and every one of you. No matter if it’s just been a reassuring smile, a note of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, or a spontaneous and inspirational message, every little bit has helped propel me to where I am today. I know that I would be nowhere near here if it wasn’t for you all. So the biggest thank you that I could possibly give you all again, and so, so much love.
Like I said, I woke up in a really good mood this morning. I went downstairs and decided to make myself pancakes. I’ve has several conversations with my dietitian about how difficult combination foods are for me. My eating disorder likes to keep all the elements separate so that it takes me longer to eat and I am precisely aware of exactly how much I am consuming. Essentially, it’s a modified form of a behavior; albeit lessened, but still, it’s a behavior.
So she challenged me to break one of my eating disorder rules every day. And this is probably the most difficult one to try and fight. But lately I’ve discovered that combination foods are so easy. You can put all your exchanges onto one plate instead of having five thousand dishes in front of you. It wastes so much less time now that I’m not fiddling around with my food like I was before. And dare I say it, it’s so much more tasty.
Anyways, back to the pancakes. I mixed the egg, the flour, and the milk together, then threw in a couple of chopped up strawberries because strawberry pancakes are infinitely more delicious than just plain old pancakes. Then I set out the pan and carefully poured the batter in. The resultant product was two rather large pancakes that looked extremely daunting. I also had a small bowl of strawberries, my usual cup of coffee, and soymilk.
(By the way, if you’re ever interested in several dramatic selfies, photos of yummy looking food, and the occasional picture of something else for some variety, you can follow me on Instagram @emmaeverafter :))
So I was sitting there, looking at this admittedly daunting plate of pancakes. Then I took a bite. And another. And another. I still have to eat robotically; it’ll be a long time before I’m able to process tastes and textures without any guilt involved.
And then I had a thought.
Lately I’ve really been missing residential treatment. It was so nice to live in the little bubble resi provided. You are kept away from all of the triggers and difficulties the real world presents. Your meals are prepared for you. You’re surrounded by caring people who are going through similar struggles. You always have a listening ear around to help support you. You’re inundated with countless coping strategies and skills to help prepare you to strike out on your own.
I started questioning whether recovery was worth it or not. I considered restricting and overexercising until I was happy with my body. I thought about making enough backwards progress that I had to go back to treatment.
And then I thought, how ridiculous is that? You aren’t even recovered yet.
It’s true. Right now recovery sucks. I’ve had to adjust to the idea of gaining weight in order to be healthy. I’ve had to relearn how to see food as something beneficial rather than scary and evil. And I’m still not done; in fact, I’ve got a long, long way to go.
So why not make the best of it?
Instead of thinking of what I have to eat, what about what I get to eat? I get to make freaking pancakes, for goodness sakes. They’re squishy delicious circles of happy goodness. I get to have fresh fruit which tastes wonderful and healthy. I get to drink milk so that my bones stay strong and can support me like they’re supposed to. I get to eat frigging Oreos or M&Ms for my evening snack; I get to have an actual dessert. I can eat pizza and ice cream and all these amazing foods that I used to consider the work of the devil.
Instead of thinking about all the bad things I feel about my changing body, what about all the good things? My hair is now much more shiny and strong; it doesn’t break off and come out in clumps when I brush it. My skin is no longer pallid and stretched too thinly over my skeletal looking frame, which was made of bones far weaker than the ones I have now. I am able to make it through a day without feeling exhausted, cold, and spent. I’ve gained weight so that I am not in danger of dying. My bloating is a sign of my body healing and learning to trust me again; it’s got a long way to go. My nails don’t break under the slightest amount of pressure. My eyes have a sparkle again. When I smile now, it’s a real smile.
Instead of thinking about all the horrible things recovery has involved, what about all of the incredible things? I’ve met some of the most amazing people any could be fortunate enough to befriend. I’ve spent hours laughing and commiserating with them about the triumphs and tribulations of recovery. I’ve come across some incredible inspiring, strong women who help motivate me to continue moving forward each and every day. I’ve learned that I am stronger, braver, more beautiful, wiser, smarter, more courageous, and overall more worthwhile than I ever believed when I was truly entrenched in my eating disorder. I get to travel to new and interesting places now unlike what I was able to do when I was stuck in treatment. I get to experience new and interesting foods and explore the world of eating in a way I wasn’t capable of before. I have the freedom to seek new horizons beyond what I ever dreamed possible.
So to anyone dealing with the same difficulties: try thinking this way instead. Think about all the good recovery could bring you. Think about the future that it opens up to you. Think about all the amazing things you will be able to experience. Think about all the wonderful people you will get to meet. Recovery isn’t over quickly. To be honest, it’s a lifelong process, at least mentally. Physically, recovery has a finite length. Your body will eventually stop gaining weight and you will be able to see it redistribute. You will start to function as a healthy human being again. But mentally, it’s a never-ending learning process.
Why not see what it’s like? I know that change and the unknown is frightening. I know that uncertainty is, quite frankly, a bitch to deal with. But you can do it. You are capable of so much more than you know. I believe in you. ❤