Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Owning My Body

Once again, I will thank my friend Mindy (fully recovered for 7 years) for sparking this entry.

There is this common misconception that you go to treatment, control behaviors, and restore health and that you are “in recovery” if you continue to control behaviors and stay healthy.  And yes this is absolutely necessary.

But there is so much more.

I have been in full recovery for almost 8 years–but that doesn’t mean that for the previous 8 years, I had it all figured out and I was recovered and done with everything related to the eating disorder.

Yes, I was done with the eating disorder, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have work to do–on the issues surrounding the eating disorder and just me in general.  I still am doing work in order to improve myself.  I am learning to love myself–not just for what I do or accomplish but for just plain being me.  For so long I didn’t accept myself.  Now I am learning the peace of acceptance.

Immediately after my last hospitalization, I was confident I would maintain recovery–but my body image was horrible and affected my sense of self-worth.  One of the things I did after that hospitalization was take a year off of any type of aerobic exercise in order to break the cycle of exercise addiction.  When I hit the six month mark, I began slowly adding yoga back into my lifestyle.

I had started yoga in college, but had seen it as a workout.  I became a yoga instructor, but in my classes, I emphasized strength and conditioning.  I didn’t spend much time on the concepts of peace or love or acceptance.  It was only a way to work out.

In 2007, I began the return to my mat.  But because I was moving slowly and my focus was on health, my perspective changed.  I began appreciating my time on the mat as my time.  I started with the opening sun salutations, something I used to do only to warmup for the rest of the workout.  But now, I took my time through each individual pose, focusing on correct posture in a way I hadn’t done before.  And one day, after finishing the opening salutations, I sat on my mat and suddenly thought, My body just did all that.  My body. 

The body I had previously hated, degraded, starved, and denied.  The body I tried to hide from everyone.  My body was strong enough to go through all five A Salutations and all five B Salutations.  I wasn’t going on to do the rest of the Astanga sequence; I finished with the salutations.  And appreciated my body for allowing me to do that.

I’d like to say from that day forward, I fully accepted everything about my body and was filled with self-love.  It didn’t work quite as well as that.  But my time on the mat began to mean something other than workout time. I began to cherish the time on the mat as a way to relearn my own body–its shapes and curves and lines and strengths and weaknesses.  And I was proud of that body.  Amazed at the things my body could do.  I hadn’t felt that way since 1996 Indoor Nationals when I placed 4th and 6th.  I loved my body.

Again, that was not the end of my recovery process.  I still had to learn to love my body when I wasn’t doing yoga.  I began using all those positive affirmations I had once scorned:  My body just walked up a flight of stairs.  My body just allowed me to run and catch a bus.  My body allows me to carry all of my books and my laptop to school and back.

Eventually, I came to the realization that my body was my body.  And my job was to love and care for that body and help it anyway I could and appreciate my body not for what it was doing but for the fact that it existed.  That was enough.

As I learned to appreciate my physical body, I learned to appreciate my mind, my feelings, my heart, and my faith and spirituality.  I really do believe that taking time off from all types of exercise was necessary for me, and that starting my yoga practice slowly and deliberately taught me a great deal about my self.

I admit that today, I prefer to be working toward something.  To be accomplishing something.  But I am now learning that my worth does not depend on what I am producing.  I am learning to sit with myself, just as I am, something I would not have been able to do in 2005.

My growth–as a person, as a daughter, as a friend, as a spiritual person–is still continuing.  And I plan on continuing to grow in all of these areas as I continue to live.  This could not have happened if I had not begun the process of recovery.

Find something about yourself that you love–be it singing, playing an instrument, writing, working with children, knitting (of course!).  Anything that you can claim with pride.  And then continually remind yourself that it is your body that makes that activity possible.  Own your body.  Just as it is.  Give yourself the chance to grow as a person.

***********Please do not undertake any exercise regimen without the consent of your treatment team. *********

November 17, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Love this. I don’t think that shaming people into appreciating their bodies works, like saying “some people are paralyzed, you should be thankful”. I don’t think it’s something you can really shame or tell someone else over and over until they understand it. At some point, I think we were really lucky to realize the incredible strength our bodies had, despite years of abuse. I don’t entirely know how yoga put it in perspective for me, but it did. I don’t know that anything has given me a sense of gratitude for my body like it has. It’s also forced me to trust myself and trust my body. It can do things I assume it can’t.
    So cool that you were an instructor at one point! Learning new things about you all the time 🙂 Even if it was for the workout at the time, I still imagine that you were a good instructor. I imagine you were always gentle with others, even if you were not with yourself. After grad school, if life settles down a bit and I have time to take a nap or something, I think I want to pursue getting my certification.

    Comment by mindy | November 17, 2014 | Reply

  2. Hey.. Its been inspiring reading your entries. I just found them an hour ago and read through alot of them. In one you stated that you went to brookhaven Rader program in Tulsa. I am actually looking into going there myself. I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow and we will discuss what we need to do.. All that jazz. I’ve been to treatment before.. Residential and inpatient… But I always have such nervousness and hesitation. Could you tell me about you experience there.. What it was like? The meals.. The rooms.. The showers.. The rules. If you could I’d be sooooooo grateful! Was everyone super skinny?? I know this last question is a total ED type question, but I’d really me to know if there were.. Various type of eating disorders there.

    Comment by LOVEisLOVE | November 18, 2014 | Reply

    • LOVEisLOVE–My only recommendation is that you seek treatment and do your best to surrender to the program and the people trying to help you. I do not like to mention specifics about various places because each individual experiences a place differently. I do remember faith and spirituality playing a large role if you wanted, and that the girls I met there grew extremely close to one another and there was no competition or anything–it was a small community. Please seek treatment. It is terrifying to let go and let people help you, but they really will help you if you are willing.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 19, 2014 | Reply

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