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What Does Recovery Mean to You?

On my last post, you may have seen the featured photo set as a list of goals and reasons for why I want to recover.  Paired with that, was an opposing list of the things holding me back.  As I was reading through my journal I stumbled upon this page and was hit full force by the irony of what I had written.  Granted, it is easier to look back now and make judgments, but I still remember fiercely feeling that these things would indeed block me from living a fulfilled live.

The question I asked myself was, “What is holding you back?”

The first answer was clearly stated and definitive “fears of weight gain and fears of my body changing.”  As much as I try to deny that this was a motive for me in losing the weight, it is a huge factor in my struggle with anorexia.  I no longer want to ignore this body image issue because then it will only persist.  I want to face it full force, allow myself to feel all the strong emotions associated with it, and then ask myself, “Is it really worth it?”  Is attaining this skinny, sickly looking body really worth no education?  Worth not being able to go out with friends?  Is it worth forcing your parents and little brother to worry about you constantly?  The answer here is clearly no.  To any logical person reading this the answer would be no.  However, in the face of a full meal when the anorexia voice has all but consumed you, logic often fades away and is overruled.

Recovery for me means… remembering what is most important in life.

It means no longer only focusing on food, with cravings filling my every waking minute.  It means that food, although enjoyed, does not consume all my thoughts on all my outings.  It means that just because I am going out to eat for dinner, I still eat consistently throughout the day.  It means no more starvation or restriction or compensation.  And it means exactly what I wrote down in my journal in the hospital that day, “Going to UW; being successful academically and finding professional success; being healthy; going home; seeing my friends and family.”

I want to broaden that answer and say that recovery means life.  There is no living without recovery.  There is momentary satisfaction but there is no long term, stable happiness.  Sometimes I try to convince myself, or bargain with myself, that I can live this way forever.  And then I really sit and think about the future.  Is this what I want for the rest of my life?  Restriction to the point of exhaustion?  And the answer is so clear.  I do not want that and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

So I am facing these insignificant things that are holding me back.  Just a few short months ago I wrote, “fears of not being good enough and not being perfect enough for others” and “fears of being looked down upon” as I sat on the hospital patio staring out at the Seattle skyline.  I wrote those words despite the clear support I had and still do have.  Despite my friends who love me with all of my flaws and my family who has been there every single step of the way.  I no longer accept this fear of imperfection as a reason to halt my recovery process.  As I said before, it is simply not worth it.

So now, when I am burdened by the weight of my fears, I turn to a single picture of me from when I was a little girl.  A picture that brings back so much happiness.  It is a photo of me staring at my newborn baby brother with so much love and adoration.  And that is why I answer the question “What does recovery mean to you?”  with, “it means remembering what is most important in life.”

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