Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Missing the Illness, Part Two

who are you?

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?  I think this question is another of the reasons why we may find ourselves missing being sick.  Not the body image problems of looking in the mirror, but the deeper meaning of the question, “Who are you?”  Just imagine the caterpillar from Alice In Wonderland and the drawn out “Whooooooooooo”.

Seriously.  How many of us lost everything to the eating disorder, so that all that remained was the eating disorder?  So that we became our eating disorder and how we identified ourselves?  One of the things that makes that initial step into recovery so difficult and so terrifying is the fact that you are stepping into the Unknown.  You’re letting go of the eating disorder and reaching out for . . . . what?  What is going to be there to take the eating disorder’s place?   That initial step into recovery is a huge leap of faith.

I was “lucky.”  When I made the decision to recover I was in the middle of my Master’s program and “all” I had to do was throw myself into the classes and workload.  I was also lucky in that while I was there, the group of students in the program and the professors were a very tight-knit group and were extremely supportive and encouraging.

So now, when the identity of student is no longer mine, and I’m caught in between that student identity and the next phase of my life, it’s only natural that I find myself longing for a familiar identity to cling to.  I think this is something a lot of individuals face when they leave an intensive residential treatment facility. After a couple to a few months of living and breathing the illness and recovery and spending your days talking about it with other people who “get it,” you are thrown back into the real world.  The same world you inhabited before treatment except this time you’re missing the eating disorder.  And how you relate to everything and everyone has to change.  It’s terrifying and oh so easy to slip back into your old identity.  The familiar is always more comfortable than the unknown, even when you know the familiar is killing you.

With the uncertainties all around me, it’s been tempting me–my old “friend” the eating disorder.  I haven’t given in, but the thoughts are there.  And I finally understand why.  And last night, in my journal, I took these black alphabet stickers I have for scrapbooking, and wrote the word “lose” in the middle of my entry.  And then reminded myself of all I stood to lose if I relapsed.  I look around my apartment and see everything that I have gained, the life I now call my own.  It would all disappear and I would be left back at the beginning, having to start over from scratch.  Again.  I am not willing to give up all I have become, no matter how terrifying this unknown that I am facing is.

So I challenge you again–what do you stand to lose if you relapse?  And to look at it from a positive angle–What have you gained in your recovery?  And–What do you stand to gain by continuing down the path of recovery?


May 1, 2011 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. You’re rocking the blogging right now – THANK YOU!
    I stand to lose everything! Most importantly myself and all I am scrapping back of my life and the beautiful things I am building! Disordered Eating MUST stop defining me. Re-building who you are is wired I am working this out too … Victim to Victor ??? Keep rolling the blogs R xxx

    Comment by Ruth Greenaway-Robbins | May 1, 2011 | Reply

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