I’m over 6 years RecoverED from my eating disorder and I can’t even explain how great it feels to know that I am free.
Going to treatment saved my life. But here’s the thing going to treatment was the 1st step, thing is you can’t just show up to treatment and expect a cure. You have to show up at the table.
I had anorexia for about 14 years, and I honestly didn’t see hope in being in recovery much less RecoverED. And then one day I met someone who worked at the treatment center. She has been in recovery for 2 years. She altered my mind, she basically screamed at my ED because here this beautiful woman was, recovered. Now my ED had no way of telling me that there’s no such thing as recovery.
As weeks progressed I really struggled with my new healthy body. And I asked her “Do you like your body now?” She smiled that big beautiful smile, and her twinkling blue eyes looked at me and before walking into her office she said “sweety it’s a work in progress.”
Finally the truth. Finally I knew that I wasn’t going to leave treatment and expect to love this new body. But I knew that it was going to be a work in progress and I would have to fight back and I thought maybe everyday for the rest of my life. But in that moment I accepted that fact. Because no way in hell was I going to let my ED back.
When the time came for me to eventually discharge, she came to me. She told me what recovery had been like for her and her one wish for me was to let go of body image first. She said “trust me it’s not worth it.” She was saying that listening to that voice critique my body wasn’t worth listening too.
This beautiful human being gave me the armory of recovery but in order for me to get better I had to trust her and put the armory on. I had to trust each word she told me, and so I did. And you bet I let go of body image first. I’m not saying I don’t or didn’t have a hard time with it but I’m saying I didn’t let my inner critique become friends with my body.
They say body image is the last thing to go when your in recovery. But my belief is the last thing to go is what you are still holding onto. Sure it could be body image but for some maybe it’s their sick clothes they have hiding in the back of the closet, maybe it’s the scale under the bed, maybe it’s the number that your new healthy body weighs, maybe it’s a behavior that’s so small that you tell yourself it’s not eating disordered, maybe it’s pictures of when you were sick that your holding onto, maybe it’s toxic people in your life that you insist on having because you love them so much but they help the ED and not you, Maybe it’s certain journals or books, maybe it’s something that only you know and it’s not on my list, but you know what that last thing to go is.
I will tell you mine. The last thing to go for me was the number on the scale. The number that my body now embraced. And I knew the number from the feeling in my clothes, those who struggle or struggled with an ED can easily know their weight without weighing themselves just by the feeling in their clothes.
So one day I asked my doctor to weigh me, I knew my weight from the tightness in my clothes, but I said “ But I want to see it.” Now my doctor who works with ED she is a hard ass, doesn’t let a single thing get by, she’s blunt, up front, and will not fall for any ed thought or behavior. To give you an example of who she is: before your called into her office she takes the cord to the scale and brings it with her to her prior patients apt. So when I come in the office the scale is disconnected. She thinks prior to you coming in. She takes the time to see who her next patient is, and rips that cord out of the wall and goes to to her patient with the cord in her pocket. Then when it’s your turn, she walks in the door and puts the plug in. That is the kind of doctor I have. A loving hard ass.
So I was waiting for my doctors response, she was looking me in the eyes and I could almost feel her looking into my soul. When she said “okay.” I stepped on, saw the number, got off and went “okay that’s not bad, it’s healthy, not over weight not underweight it’s nothing but my weight, and I’m okay with that.” She smiled and said “I’ll see you next month for some follow up tests” and walked out the door.
She knew. She knew I was ready, she knew I wasn’t going to care, she knew that this was the last thing I was holding onto. The constant fear of the number. I didn’t care how I looked, I didn’t cry at my body, I didn’t get upset at my clothing. I got upset at the number in my head, the number I wasn’t sure of. The number that I battled with because I didn’t know what it was. And I “needed” to know perhaps for my own sanity. But she knew I was going to be fine. Somehow she knew I was ready.
Now not everyone needs to see their weight, most people in general hate the number no matter what it is, in some ways people could ask me “well why did the number matter if you were in recovery, why is the number so important to you if your suppose to be recovered, the number isn’t important is it?” My response is that I don’t know why I needed to see the number, I don’t know why it mattered, I don’t have an explanation or a reason. It just was what it was.
So yes I saw my weight. And I didn’t care. But for me that was my closure. For me that was me letting go of that red balloon that I had lightly tied around my wrist. For me it was being able to watch that balloon travel so high in the sky that it disappeared. Just like a 5 year old who watches the balloon go free, stood me in my 20's doing the same thing.
So perhaps body image is not the last to go. In fact it can be the first to go. But there is something that is the last to go and maybe you need to find what that is. Ask yourself “what am I secretly holding onto?” And from there that is what therapy and the doctors are there for. They are there for you, waiting to here you say “ I am ready to let go”