Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Full Recovery. Yes. It really is possible.


According to Facebook, I have 300 friends.  Most of the time, my newsfeed keeps me up to date on the Friends who are near me physically and the ones who interact with me the most.  Which means the vast majority of my 300 Friends don’t just pop up on my screen.  And honestly, I cannot keep up to date with 300 different people, especially the ones I’ve never met or talked to aside from a couple messages on Facebook.

But a conversation on my wall yesterday made me randomly think of Someone, and so I went to her page to see how she was.  Well, Someone died from her eating disorder, and there is now a “Remembering Someone” group in addition to all the other ‘in memory’ groups out there.  I had had several private message conversations with her, but I can’t say that I knew her.  It still makes me sad.

And then my dear friend Kathleen MacDonald re-shared her story for a support group.  I have heard her speak this story and I have read it multiple times over the years, and it still makes me cry.  Kathleen had someone who knew what it’s like to lose a daughter to an eating disorder step in and help her see her worth as a human being and helped her understand her life had meaning and purpose and beauty and that there really was a way to heal.  A way out.

In 2004, my life intersected with that of Allan Benn.  His daughter had died from an eating disorder in 2003.  At the time, I didn’t believe the people who told me that I could get better–because very few people ever told me that.  Most everyone told me that people didn’t really recover from an eating disorder, that they learned to “manage it” for the rest of their life, but it would always be present somehow.

So if I was only ever going to be anorexic to some degree, why even try to recover?  What was the point?  I didn’t have anything to offer the world; I didn’t even feel I had anything to offer myself.  But Allan saw my suffering, and how it was holding me back from the person I was meant to be.  One day, he sat me down and asked, “What are you going to do now? Because you can’t keep doing this.”  I can’t remember if I had any type of answer for him or not.  But he told me that I needed to take steps to get better.  I didn’t believe him, because ‘obviously’ recovery was impossible.

But over the next year-and-a-half, I began seeing myself through his eyes.  I wasn’t sold on recovery yet, but I was willing to admit the way I was living was causing me great pain.  And as he continued to stress health and wellness, I saw that the way I was living was causing him pain.  I had no idea that my actions could affect other people to that degree.  A sobering realization, but one that led me to the conclusion that even if I didn’t want to get better, I could not let myself be another loss in his life.  It didn’t seem fair.

And so, over a period of months, I began seeking out treatment options but always fell back on the “it’s never helped before” belief until I really didn’t have a choice due to my physical health and I went back into treatment.  I still didn’t believe in me, or even really want recovery–but I cared about Allan and his wife.  “They told me recovery is possible,” I kept repeating to myself.  I had to at least try.

And then I began fighting for the sake of my nephew.  And a part of me was fighting to prove all the doubters wrong.  And then I began fighting for me.  I began to believe that recovery really was possible.  And like everything else I do, I refused to settle for anything but full recovery.

I wish there had been that one person in Someone’s life that connected with her on some deep level words can’t really describe.  I wish she had been able to see her inherent worth as a person and everything that life had to offer her and that she had to offer life.  I wish she believed that she could recover.

All too often, we are labeled revolving door patients, or ‘lifers’ who don’t stand a chance.  These messages come from family, friends, and medical professionals.  ALL of us need to be told that recovery is possible and that we deserve that recovery and that we can succeed.  We need more stories of recovery.  We need to convince people that 100% Full Recovery is possible.  And we need to keep saying that–to sufferers, to parents, to friends, to healthcare providers, and anyone else who will listen.

You. Can. Recover.  Recovery does not mean the absence of pain, but it does mean the presence of life.

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November 8, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Beautifully stated!

    Comment by Joan | November 8, 2014 | Reply

  2. Thanks Alexis. I’ve been doubting, for myself at least, that it is possible. This post is heartfelt and honest. Where do you get that push or ‘aha’ moment? I’m grasping for straws but then again am terrified. What will happen? I do know that I can’t keep living this half-life.

    Comment by amanda | November 8, 2014 | Reply

    • It’s frustrating being in the ‘grasping at straws’ part of things, but please keep grasping. My realization came when I realized my actions affected other people–and I had thought no one was noticing me at all. Is there one person in your life that you would not want to cause pain? Do it for them for now. And there was a part of me that wanted to prove people wrong, so if you have a stubborn streak, use that to your advantage. “So and so never believed in me, and I’m going to show them!” And knitting really helped me. I don’t like to leave projects unfinished. So I had to keep going to finish that current sweater . . . and then the hat, and the blanket, and the scarf. It doesn’t matter what the ‘straw’ is–just grasp and hold on tight.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 9, 2014 | Reply

      • Honestly, I don’t want to cause anyone pain. I try to hide it but I don’t know if I’m successful or not. I don’t talk about it with family and only a few friends know. I can definitely be stubborn, so I understand that. I haven’t started anything lately, in fear that I wouldn’t be able to finish. If I’m not sure that I’m able to do something well or complete, I won’t start and that’s where I’ve been stuck for awhile now. I’m trying to hold on but I’m really tired. Thanks again.

        Comment by amanda | November 10, 2014

  3. Please don’t try to hide what you are going through. That can cause even more pain. Begin conversations, open up lines of communication. Seek support. Can you get treatment?

    Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 10, 2014 | Reply


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