Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Can I Just Be Me?

Recovery does not equal “life free of stress.”  If only it did.  I know I am not alone with this: my eating disorder was a way I attempted to make the stress of life disappear.  A significant proportion of life was absolutely terrifying to me, and a lot of my symptoms were attempts to numb all of that stress away.  Of course, if you numb the crappy parts away, you also numb the good parts.  You don’t get to choose.  It’s all or nothing.

Recovery involves letting Life back in.  All of life.  Not just the good stuff.  Once again, it’s all or nothing.  You let the crappy parts back in as well.  There is no way around it.  A full life is never one or the other.  It’s everything.  And, a lot of the time, it’s everything all at once.  The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly and everything in between.

Early in recovery, the bad and the ugly parts of life were little apples from the Forbidden Tree: temptations to return to the eating disorder.  And I could have gone back at any time.  I could have chosen to numb out once again.  But I had gotten a taste of the good and the beautiful, the parts of life that balance out the pain, and I wasn’t ready to give those things up.

I am still not ready to give those parts up.  Even when I post status updates about stress and hating a current situation or being depressed or apathetic.  These are all normal feelings, and most of the people I interact with on a daily basis also post them.  It’s called being a doctoral student.  It’s called being a wife or mother or father or husband.  It’s called planning a wedding or planning a family.  It’s called work.  It’s called living in the world.

But.  They do not have this “eating disorder” label hanging over their heads.  I do.  And so, when I post status updates that are less than positive, I not only get much appreciated comments of concern, I get private messages telling me that using behaviors will not solve anything.  I get private messages giving a list of things to do besides act on behaviors.  I get people telling me to “be strong and not let the eating disorder win.”

There are no desires to use behaviors.  I am not letting the eating disorder win.  I have already won.  I have chosen life–the good the bad the beautiful the ugly–and I am not letting go.

I expressed frustration at people assuming stress=a return to the eating disorder and people were offended.  One of the things I’ve learned through recovery is how to use my voice.  When I was in the stages of weight recovery and weight maintenance, I had the right to ask people not to comment on said weight gain or on my appearance in general.  It’s a suggestion that is respected within the eating disorder community.  We congratulate people when they ask their friends and family to refrain from comments.  And we also understand when people get angry at their family and friends for questioning them excessively: if they left the room after eating something and then being asked, “did you go throw up?”.  Constant monitoring of meals, with “Aren’t you supposed to be eating more?”

We want, at some point, trust.  And the allowance to move beyond the eating disorder. To not have our motives questions.  To not be watched 24/7.  To be allowed to grow and change.

Do not hold me to my past.  I have lost friends because they could not allow me to change.  They only ever saw me through the eating disorder lens, not the lens of the present moment.

I am not my past.  I am me.  Now.


October 10, 2010 - Posted by | Communication, Eating Disorders, feelings, identity, recovery, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Ah-freaking-men. Thanks for this.

    Comment by Lily | October 10, 2010 | Reply

  2. “I am not my past. I am me. Now.”
    fuck yes.

    Comment by marisa | October 10, 2010 | Reply

  3. you can be you and i’ll do my best to be me and then let’s knit or watch a terrible movie that p suggests. i crazy miss you. sniff…

    Comment by slzu | October 10, 2010 | Reply

  4. Love this post. I think about this aspect of eating disorder life all the time.

    Comment by Embodying Freedom | December 22, 2010 | Reply

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