Halfway through a bowl of ice cream, an abrupt, yet familiar, feeling of anxiety was attempting to take control over me. All of a sudden, I became overwhelmingly aware of my body. I could focus on nothing but the folds and creases on my belly resulting from my sitting position, the space I was taking up, and the weight of my being on this planet.
By then I knew very well what was coming: a horrible sensation of claustrophobia, of being trapped, just because of the mere fact that I had to exist inside a body. My first reaction presented itself as a desperate urge to throw the remaining ice cream away; and it was right at that moment when I realized exactly what had to be done. So I went ahead and finished my dessert.
It’s no secret that recovery from an Eating Disorder is hard.
And it hurts. A lot. It takes unimaginable amounts of strength, willpower, tears, and patience, among other things. Furthermore, there was a time when the situation became even more painful and more confusing than it was at the beginning. I had reached the point where I was physically healthy; I was no longer in starvation mode, my organs were healing, my metabolism was getting back on track, and so on, but I was still struggling mentally.
I’ve learned bodies usually heal faster than minds.
During the earliest stage of my recovery, the main focus was the urgency for me to stay alive. Once I had accepted to receive help, I kept reassuring myself, thinking it was OK to eat because my body was shutting down. In other words, I was sick enough to deserve food.
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Later on, however, when I was looking more human and less like a zombie, the violent, disordered voice inside my head took the opportunity to make me wonder if I still needed all the food. “You’re normal again, it’s time for some discipline,” she said.
No one was watching me as closely as before, no one was keeping track of my intake or physical activity anymore. I could have easily lied my way back into my sickness. I was on my own.
The thing is though, dishonesty would have only ended up hurting me and the people I love, obviously, and I was done.
I was done being the cause of anyone’s pain, including my own.
I was tired of this constant battle–me against my body–in which no one would ever win. Therefore, stronger than the temptation to relapse was my determination to run as far away as I could from Anorexia’s cold embrace. My illness used to be my comfort zone, my “safe” place, as twisted as that might sound, and my defense mechanism.
Even so, I knew I only had two options: I could either stay and fight or walk away and let it kill me. Recovery is like wandering through the darkest of tunnels, not knowing what might be in it, how long it’s going to be, or if there will ever be a light at the end. But you keep going nonetheless, because you’d rather face the unknown than go back to the certainty of death.
For a long time, I kept going through recovery because I wanted to protect my family from my disease, not because I really wanted to let it go. I was still, in a way, hanging on to my Eating Disorder, knowing that I could go back whenever I felt like it.
But it was at this point that it dawned on me: I wasn’t just doing it for them anymore, I was finally willing to do it for myself. I was all in. This realization changed everything, and I started reassessing the real reasons why I wanted to heal.
I wanted recovery.
I wanted my life back more than I had ever wanted anything.
From that moment forward I decided to be completely honest about my recovery, yes, with everybody, but first and foremost with myself. No cheating, no excuses.
I am proud to say I have managed to keep it that way. It has not been easy at all, it never is. I make mistakes, a lot of them and very frequently. Be that as it may, I keep moving forward, in spite of my bruises and constant exhaustion. I push through the bad days–or cry, or scream, or punch some pillows–and I enjoy the good days immensely, because I have those too, and lots of them. After all, that’s just life, isn’t it?
The decision to recover is not a one-time thing, but more like a series of choices one must face every day.
It would be easy to lie about how committed I am, but why would I do that? It’s completely useless; for I know there is absolutely no chance I would ever fool myself.
So is the anorectic voice inside my head telling me to skip the pizza and go for a salad instead? Well then, I should definitely have the pizza, along with some chocolate ice cream on a big, fat brownie. That will piss her off. Most importantly, it will set me free.
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