Sometimes we can caught up in the act of trying to recover that we forget the reasons why we are doing it. It’s understandable when it takes all our energy to simply get through the day without falling into behaviours. Every meal is a range of questions from “Is this enough? Too much? Too little?” “Am I listening to my body?” “Is my choice being fuelled by me or my disorder?” In a way we can become extremely harsh on ourselves, we try to live up to the expectations that we were taught to rise up to whilst in treatment and when we don’t, we hate ourselves for it. Yet the disorder makes us hate ourselves if we do. At times it can feel like it’s never going to be good enough. All these thought screw ups make us lose sight of why we are even putting ourselves through the process. There was once a drive, a catalyst or motivation that made us take a step towards health but to hold that in our minds is not an easy thing to do. I learnt from Anorexia what it is to have that narrow-minded focus, to not be able to see the bigger picture of what I was doing to myself. I focused on a number or a routine or a ritual. That’s all that mattered. In the process of killing myself, for a while, I stopped being able to see that I was in fact killing myself. Recovery has been the same, maybe just in the opposite direction. The weight gain, the challenges, the ticking off the list of fear foods that I have to attempt. Restoring my well-being, finding some happiness or peace of mind became something that I lost sight of. Sickness made me lose myself but so did recovery.
It’s not something that you read often is it? That recovery can make you lose yourself too. Sometimes I think we need to clear out all the bullshit, other peoples thoughts and wants for us before we can move forward honestly. Maybe part of the reason I became unwell because I couldn’t bear the idea of anyone seeing that I was hurting. I could channel that pain into something private and mine. There were also false starts to my recovery because it didn’t feel real. I was doing it to avoid something worse or because other people were scared for me. It wasn’t until this time that I stopped long enough to listen to what my soul was trying to tell me and that was that I wanted to get better because I was miserable. My motivations were clear and positive but they slipped away from me when the intensity stepped up. It became target orientated, achievement driven, pushing boundaries extremes. It didn’t feel true.
A couple of weeks ago I was fully discharged from all mental health services. The relief, the sense of freedom, the hope was tremendous. I felt this pressure lift and it wasn’t something that had been implicit but was present. In my meeting I was asked how I was doing with my eating…and I sat for a moment, considered it. How was I doing? I didn’t feel like I had to come up with an answer and for the first time, it didn’t matter. It was then that I could fully admit to myself that maybe I’m not going to ever fully recover. That it’s more than likely that I’ll always have this disorder. I’ll constantly second guess myself and when I’m struggling, I’ll take it out on my body and what I eat. It will trip me up and set me back and make everything three times as hard as what things would be otherwise. Yes, there will be more marks and scars that will probably find their way into the history of my body. Does that sound horribly defeatist? I don’t think so. It’s realistic for me. I have no life before this that I can clearly remember. I know no other way of being. Yet if I accept this and acknowledge then to me that’s a way I take away its power. I expect the falls and I expect them to hurt but at least I will know how to soften the blow. Maybe then I don’t let it destroy me completely. Instead of a collapse, I get an interruption or a pause. I can live with that picture.
This feels more honest to me than anything that’s taken place in the last few months. I’ve removed those expectations from myself and everything I then choose to do or challenge is because it comes from a place that is of pure want…not because I’m trying to prove something. Maybe all the times that I’ve tried to recover before and failed is because I didn’t get to this point. I couldn’t figure out how to just be.
I’m trying to do that now.
I hope your day has been kind to you.