Well friend, that is a good question. A question that I don’t get asked often because 1). it’s hard to ask and 2). it’s a little awkward. And actually, I’m thankful people don’t ask because I’m not even sure what I would say on the spot anyways. But in writing, I can save you the trouble of asking and me the embarrassment of struggling to answer.
It’s been almost a year since treatment for my eating disorder and if I had to describe recovery in one word it would be: full.
My stomach is full. I am like a normal person again, so when I’m hungry I eat. Most days I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I go on ice cream dates, eat the cookies I bake, and have popcorn at movies. It’s those strange and simple things that I didn’t realize how much I missed.
My life is also fuller. I laugh, hug, and smile more. I even feel emotion more fully. Joy. Excitement. Compassion. Creativity. Humor. It’s like life was black and white until I finally opened one of those Crayola Crayon boxes with the sharpener on the back. My world is overflowing with vibrant possibilities.
But sometimes I grab the dark colors from the box. Because full isn’t always a good feeling—we tend to call it ‘fat.’ Finding the balance has been difficult. I know some of you are thinking, How? All you have to do is eat. But recovery is so much more than that.
Recovery is feeling fat but choosing to eat anyways. Recovery is dreading fitting rooms, mirrors, and swimsuits. Recovery is being paranoid because you think everyone is watching you eat and judging. Recovery is noticing every change in your body and thinking everyone else does too. Recovery is hearing voices in your head and deciding which one to believe. Recovery is thinking you are single because you aren’t pretty anymore. Recovery is squeezing your eyes shut when you get dressed because it might not fit. Recovery is wondering if you should workout and beating yourself up if you don’t. Recovery is desperately trying to love yourself after you’ve hated yourself for so long. Recovery is making a thousand choices every day and not always choosing the right ones. But that’s okay.
Recovery is not, “I am better.” It’s, “I am getting better.”
Some days I just want to shove the crayons back in the box and return to the black and white life I was living before.
But one of the things that keeps me going is my future daughter. She deserves a mother who has a beautiful heart; one that can love her unconditionally, cover her with God’s grace, and wait with gentle patience. A beautiful body can’t do those things. I want to show her that worth is not about how she was made but about who made her. (psalm 139) I never want my daughter to go through recovery, so I will go through it for her.
Before I go, let me say that you are beautiful. Through recovery, I’ve learned that no matter how many times you hear those words, they never really get old. And maybe, just maybe, if we are reminded enough times, we might actually start to believe it.
Because in a way, we are all in recovery together.
Thanks for listening beautiful,