As summer approaches, I can’t help but take this time to look back, reflect, and recollect.
This summer marks the one-year anniversary of my recovery journey, and the start of an incredibly difficult redefining and self-discovery process. Last year at this time, I sat in a hospital room, staring out my small seventh story window – a complete stranger and prisoner to the world going on and moving forward around me.
Each day, I looked down on all the people laughing, running, and living, and I made a continuous promise to myself that in one year I was going to be better, healthy, and the one enjoying everything summer should be about.
Over and over I would repeat this vow, which became my mantra, and a constant source of fear, persistence, and determination throughout my restoration process.
Although this goal has been incredibly inspiring and motivating, it quickly became a constant pressure and additional demand for another source of perfection.
If I was not considered fully recovered, weight restored, and free to run and exercise to my heart’s content, then my summer was doomed to be a failure in my mind . Therefore, when I realized my recovery journey would not be complete come the summer months, and I would have to continue to devote time and energy towards final rehabilitation, I was overwhelmed with guilt, disappointment, and anger.
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Rather than focus on what I should and could be doing to give myself a healthy and happy summer, I was only concentrating on what I couldn’t do.
In doing so I failed to realize this summer I am not going to be the girl staring out of a hospital window watching life go on; rather I am going to be the one actually participating.
In the past, summer was the time period where I usually regressed the most. The warm weather, lack of routine, and daily craziness became my excuse to throw my problems out the window, along with my meal plan, exercise guidelines, and general health.
This summer I am making a conscious effort to be mindful of where I am and what my body needs.
Sometimes it means making a difficult decision to turn down a friend’s offer for an extra long run, or taking extra time to prepare meals and snacks for a particularly busy week. Rather than evaluate these limitations or necessities as a weakness, or sign of failure, I am choosing to look at them as accomplishments.
For the first summer in many years, I am taking the time to put myself and well-being before ED.
These decisions to skip out or play it safe can be extremely painful, emotional, and daunting, especially when you see other people around you engaging and participating in them without a thought in the world. But these decisions also show incredible determination, persistence, and character.
By focusing on the many aspects that I can partake in this summer, like family vacations, swimming, going to the beach, or even taking long walks with my mom, I can find inner harmony with myself, my recovery journey, and my summer.
Not only will this positive mindset continue to fuel my progress towards full restoration, but it will ensure I enjoy and partake in the sunny season in a mentally and physically healthy manner.
This summer I challenge each and every one of you to simply accept and be proud of where you are, what you have accomplished, and how far you have come in your recovery journey.
Although I still may be disappointed and frustrated with my persisting anxieties, difficulties, and limitations, I am currently having the most peaceful and healthful summer I have had in quite some time. Recovery is an ongoing process, and summer is the perfect time to credit yourself for what you can do, and what you have tackled.
In the past ED made me view summer as an all or nothing season, which could only be successful if I conquered some strict set of unrealistic goals. In reality, summer is about slowing down, appreciating oneself, making memories, and taking the time to smell the roses.
Summer does not require perfection, and it truly does offer something for everyone, no matter where they are in their life or recovery journey.
If you are just starting your recovery, use summer as an opportunity to rest, restore, and rediscover yourself by spending time with family and friends and building a support system. If you have already recovered, use summer as an opportunity to see how far you have truly come and give thanks for your freedom and power by trying something new and taking your revival to a whole new level.
I am simply going to be accepting and grateful that this summer I am going to be able to enjoy s’mores with my family around the campfire, feel the warm sun on my back as I plant in my vegetable garden, spend my evening catching fireflies and counting the stars, and for being one step closer to living ED-free.
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