Recovery cannot be done half-hearted. It cannot be done by force or as a result of an ultimatum. It cannot be done without the individuals consent. It cannot be done to a person. Recovery is not passive, and no matter how much you want it to happen you will not wake up one day and just be normal.
Recovery is hard work, it’s going to make you do things that you probably have no interest in doing, such as feeling, being entirely present or crying. It will push you beyond limits, far further than the eating disorder ever did. It will strip you back down to who you are and you will have to stand there and face everything that for some reason you hate and not back down. The hardest thing will not be eating or gaining weight, no, the hardest thing will be allowing people in to your life again, letting them see you and not all the armour you have been wearing for years. You will feel broken and at times hopeless, you will feel that you aren’t getting anywhere and that perhaps you just aren’t meant to recover. You may even come to despise the very idea of recovery and the fact that you made yourself want it a little when it seems that you cannot get unstuck from the behaviours that play on a loop. It is not a journey for the faint hearted. It is not a process that will be simple or straight forward with steps that go in a logical order. The textbooks are not unbreakable rules and predictions, they are a guide. You will recover in your own time and in your own way, whether that be upside down or back to front.
Recovery is the only way you will live. You might physically watch the years go by, but you will become one of the living dead. Unaware and unreachable. In recovery you will discover the sound of your own voice again, you will remember how to laugh, how to love, how to allow yourself to be loved. Instead of watching other people climb mountains, visit beautiful places and have those crazy romantic affairs it will be you doing those things. Recovery will bring you back from a place that has only ever made you doubt yourself and give you the chance to believe you are worth more because YOU ARE WORTH MORE. It will mean you can devour a book from cover to cover, write that novel that lay forgotten in the drawer, it will mean amusement parks and barbeques and getting home slightly drunk at 2am. It will be school deadlines and office dramas and colleagues that get on your last nerve. It might mean husbands that surprise you with flowers or children that have you pulling your hair out. Don’t you see? The possibilities for what recovery would be, what it could mean are endless. That is what you are giving yourself when you choose recovery.
In the beginning it felt like I had recovery forced upon me, it was as though everyone was constantly trying to ram it down my throat and all I wanted to do was lash out and scream at them to stop! I didn’t want to hear it because I thought it was all lies. I thought I was perfectly fine in my little Anorexia bubble and the only problem I had was that I weighed too much. I could be successful and pretty and loveable and capable and all the those other things that are not defined by a number, if I just reached a low enough number. I can sit here now and see how messed up that thinking was, and if not messed up then completely delusional. I didn’t have anyone fooled except myself. So when I went into treatment, hating the “R” word and convinced it was a pleasant enough but stupid idea I wasn’t capable of changing. At some point I started to wake up and for a long time things were hazy but recovery stopped been such a threatening word. It wasn’t going to come in and steal my security nets without my permission, it was in fact something that could not even enter my world view without my participation. I’m still not there most days. I’m getting there. A little by little. Day by Day.
It is possible. First you choose to not die. Then you choose to live. And then you choose how you want to live.