Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

I am not that girl


Me. In the past.

So.  This is me.  About three years ago.  There is a lot about this person that I have carried with me in the past three years and held onto.  There is also a great deal about this person that I have let go of, willingly, thankful to have those bits and pieces get carried away by the ebb and flow of time.

But I am not this young woman.  I can dig down inside of me and remember what it was like to be her, but I am not her.  I have changed.  I have grown.  This is what happens in healthy development.  Three years from now, I will not be the person I am right now.  I will look at pictures from June, 2010, and have to dig deep inside of me to remember that person, who is so clearly present as I type this.

My point?  We are not our pasts. I was very early into my recovery in this photo.  Physically healthy, and 99% sure I wanted recovery, but there was still a part of me that had no idea what to do without the anorexia.  That small part of me has since disappeared.  One of the changes I have made over the years, one of those bits of me I’ve gladly seen wash away.  That part started to bubble up to the surface this past winter, and just the surface bubbling scared me.  I did not want that part of me coming back.  This sparked the whole “you’re not really recovered” debate that everyone else seemed to be invested in but me.  Because I was still sure of my recovery; I did not identify with the eating disorder.  I still saw it as my past.

And thanks to formspring, that debate about my recovery still surfaces from time to time.  Please note, the comments I get on formspring do not make me question my recovery, and they do not hurt me.  The concern in my previous post was for the people I have seen be actively hurt by what amounts to cyberbullying.  But I am just as sure as ever that I am recovered.

I noticed on another person’s page today, and I’ve seen this on several pages, a comment about “well you know so-and-so was really sick and into her eating disorder then.”  And my question is, why is that important?  Why bring that up?  There is no benefit to a comment such as that.  If the person is still ill, then it reinforces the idea that the only thing people see is her illness.  And if she has moved on and is in recovery, what does the past reflect about her now?  Absolutely nothing other than the fact that she used to have an eating disorder.

It is this idea of used to that seems to threaten a certain population.  Once an anorexic, always an anorexic.  Part of this is due to the medical community, where traditionally, that was the diagnosis for people with eating disorders: terminal condition, one you never truly escape from.  Thankfully, that diagnosis is losing its prominence and medical professionals have seen people fully recover and leave their past in the past.

Why can’t we do the same for each other?  I wasn’t my at my best, character-wise, when I was in the hospital for my eating disorder the first few times.  And I have to say that, in general, a hospital environment brings out parts of people that aren’t the greatest.  Even at Rader, the most caring inpatient environment I have ever experienced, I was not a pleasant person the first few days.  I am so thankful that the women I met there do not hold me to that person, but see me as I am now.  They have allowed me to grow, to leave the past in the past.

I am not sure why people are obsessed with who used to be sick and whether they were anorexic or bulimic or underweight or overweight or purging or not purging.  Do not hold onto these things, be them in yourself or in others.  Give yourself and others room to grow, allow them space to change.  Give them the grace and respect you desire for yourself.

Communities only succeed if they grow and change as time passes.  The same holds true for individuals and for friendships.  Growth and change.  Let go and move on.

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June 10, 2010 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. I agree and find it discouraging when people say that you will always be in recovery for an eating disorder- when I heard that I thought- well what is the point of trying then if I can never fully recover…..I guess that is part of my black and white thinking but I can also thank my black and white thinking for saying, “If I am going to recover than I want to do it 100%….I don’t want to sort of recover and then be okay with being MOSTLY recovered….so that is why I am continuing to try and challenge my thoughts even though some days I do the whole “well I USED TO BE much more sick than now so I am okay” but as you said…comparing or reminding someone how they USED to be is not all that helpful and usually not important.

    Comment by Jessica | June 11, 2010 | Reply

    • maybe it was my black and white thinking, too, but I also had the thought, “If I can’t fully recover, why bother trying at all?” I was lucky enough to know a couple of people who had recovered and that gave me the ability to say, “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it all the way.” I think people need to know that the old myth that once you have an eating disorder, you always have one to some degree is just that, a myth. It is only true if you decide to make it true.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | June 11, 2010 | Reply

  2. I love this post. In the past 6 months I’ve really started to feel free of my past, but also appreciate it for the path that got me to today. I am uniquely helpful to many people because of my recovery and what other experiences I’ve lived through.

    My understanding of my recovery is this: my eating disorder was caused by a lack of spirituality. Feeling alone in the world and in pain, I didn’t know how to live on my own so I developed the eating disorder (among other addictions and substances) to fill that need. Now, I am comforted, nurtured, and accompanied through everything by God. I have had a spiritual awakening that allows me to see my world and what happens to me differently, just like the eating disorder did at one time. To stay spiritually balanced, I need to take actions like praying and meditating and helping others. When I stop seeking God, I starting hearing the old ED thoughts again, behaviors return and once again, I am sick.

    So, I say “in recovery” because in my mind it is something that must be continuously maintained, and when it’s not I slip out of recovery. Thinking this way helps me stay focused on what I need to do everyday to live freely. My life is not defined by anorexia any longer. I am wholly me, I don’t struggle with figuring out who I am apart from my disease. Overall, I like myself and enjoy waking up each morning to this life. I am in full recovery, just like anyone who says “recovered”.

    Comment by Amanda G-M | June 11, 2010 | Reply

    • Amanda, your comment is one reason why I get so frustrated with the people who are debating MY recovery status. The way we define what recovery means is very personal. To me, YOU are recovered. But I understand why the terminology “in recovery” works better for you. What is important isn’t the terminology but the way we live. If you want to call yourself “Banana” in order to keep living healthfully and free of addiction, I’d say go for it. Labels are only helpful when you need insurance to pay for something. When it comes to living, living is what matters.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | June 11, 2010 | Reply


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