Where I Am Now
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
It's funny because if you had asked me where I was in my recovery a year ago, I would've known how to respond right then and there. Now if you were to ask me, I don't really know? I don't really know because I haven't thought about recovery...? As crazy as it sounds... I haven't thought about food. I haven't thought about my body. I have been so invested in, in love with, happy with, my life that my eating disorder or fears around food no longer make up my life.
Though recovery challenged me to face all my fears surrounding food, the real work and where I really saw change was when I chose to look inwards and challenge old beliefs.
Old beliefs about myself, about my value as a human, about the way the world works, about relationships, about friendships, about happiness.
I had to relook at what criteria I was using to define happiness, and really really challenge it all.
At first, recovery was about challenging my food fears. It was about leaning into the anxiety, the panic attacks, the crying and shaking. It was about eating the damn food and sitting with all the discomfort and fear that brought. Doing that over and over again, it became less scary.
That's the thing about fear and anxiety -- the more you address it, and are willing to challenge it, the less scary it becomes.
My nerdy scientist mind liked to think of my recovery as a science experiment. When I ate a fear food, I objectively noted how it impacted me - did I gain 20kgs overnight? No. Did all my loved ones leave my life? No. Did it change anything about who I am as a person? Oh. Noted. One data point.
I did this over and over again. Hundreds of times. Thousands of times. Enough times where a fear food is no longer a fear food. It no longer triggers the same anxiety that it used to. I can sit at a restaurant, order a whole pizza, and eat it until I'm comfortably full without feeling guilty and purging myself of the guilt afterwards. I can sit down at the end of a night, finish half a bottle of wine without blinking twice about "how much sugar or calories" were in the drink -- I just enjoyed the wine.
The hardest part about recovery is the process of choosing recovery. In the beginning of recovery, my hunger was overwhelming. Every second of everyday, I was ravenous. I could eat anything and everything. If I challenged myself to eat a pizza at a meal, I would find that after eating the whole (yes. literally.) thing, I wasn't satisfied. I still wanted to eat more. But the eating disorder part of my mind wouldn't allow me to, whereas my body was telling me something else.
For months, my life was filled with fear. Fear because all I could think about everyday was food and how god damn hungry I was. I wanted to eat every second of everyday, but I was too scared. I didn't want to ignore my hunger and backtrack in my recovery, but I was terrified.
I promise it gets better. The more you lean in, are willing to sit through the *temporary* discomfort, the less and less it will hurt the next time. It gets better. It will slowly fade, and you will show yourself how strong you are. Learning how to sit with discomfort, to push through it, and do the hard shit is what makes recovery hell. It makes recovery hell, but in the process of choosing to act in that way, you are showing yourself how strong and resilient you are. You can sit through adversity, pain, discomfort, struggle. Whatever it is, you are showing yourself - inadvertently- how strong you are.