Over the last four years, recovery has been an issue I've been pretty open about. I share many of my most inner thoughts and secrets with you for two main reasons. One being writing is how I sort out my emotions to keep my journey on the road to recovery moving in the direction I want it to- forward. Reason number two, because my life mission is to help other people who struggle with this disorder through my writings, in any way possible.
Being brutally honest allows me to do that.
Most of the time, I'm perceived as a perky, positive woman who I'm sure seems to be doing perfect on her own road to recovery.
I dish out advice based on my experience and from what I've studied, and I go from there. I let my words come from my most inner thoughts, memories, ideas and perspectives about life, recovery and what this food thing is really all about in the grand scheme of things.
Here's where I get even more honest with you all- even more honest with myself more importantly.
There are times during my recovery process where a tiny part of me misses the old, disordered me, or rather, the controlled, meek body I belonged to.
I've spoken about this many times before, but it is worth saying again because I don't think people who recover from eating disorders like to admit this fact, or at least, those who struggle with this issue don't like to. I know many people recover and never look back.
I had a 10 year relationship with my eating disorder, making it immensely hard to just "break up" with it joyfully and easily.
Anyone who has had an extensive relationship with food and disorders like I have knows this too. It may not be about the food, or the weight, but those things are two things very hard to give up control of, especially when you feel they keep you "together" as I did.
During some point of recovery, all of us will miss how thin we used to be, how close to food we used to be, how in control we used to be, how it made us feel "together" somehow, even though we were really falling apart.
It is hard to look at old modeling pictures for me, pageant pictures, and not see in the mirror today, what I saw in the mirror back then as I wore a size 0, sometimes 00 jeans.
I'm not too proud to admit that I miss those tiny dresses, those incredibly small jeans, and that I think about my weight now versus then. Every. Single. Day.
What I don't miss?
The day in and day out routine stomach pains from hunger, obsessive thoughts about when I could eat next, and I don't miss my binging days during recovery when I couldn't seem to stop eating. Literally counting the clock hours down, calculating how long it would take me to drive home, shower and get settled before I could eat again.
Then, I would often wake up every night in the middle of the night and have to get something to eat I was so hungry, or told myself when I went to bed that breakfast would taste so much better if I was hungrier.
THAT is being brutally honest.
I don't miss the imbalance of my eating disorder.
Now, things are different.
I can greatly appreciate how diverse my diet is from someone else's, but still be interested in what they are eating, without feeling inclined to think I have to eat the same way, or be embarrassed of how I eat.
Because what I finally realized is, HOW WE EAT DOES NOT MAKE US WHO WE ARE.
Yes, I believe health and nutrition are important and I believe that someone can successfully recover by eating healthy foods. Nutrition is my foremost passion, because it helped me escape a life of starving and then eating junk food for dinner, not knowing what I was doing to my body. I had no energy then, acne, constantly struggled with maintaining a certain size, and my blood sugar was all over the place.
Eating healthy also helped me overcome a seizure condition.
Health and nutrition are important, but being healthy does not make you a good person.
But all of that aside, it doesn't take away from the fact that I, too, have days where I miss being so tiny that others made comments, miss being tiny enough to have inches leftover of every piece of clothing I put on, and miss not being seen as "frail, thin, gaunt".
Why would anyone want to be seen like this you may ask?
It wasn't about looks for me. NOT AT ALL. In fact, I hated the way my arms were too thin to wear sleeveless shirts and hated the way my butt hurt every time I sat down from the lack of meat on my bones.
What I don't miss is how it made me FEEL. Being thin didn't make me feel special, but it made me feel safe.
Safe from what?
I have no idea.
I think it stems from the idea that when I was younger, I always felt looked down upon. I was picked on in high school, bullied by girls and ditched by guys left and right. I was abused as a child, neglected by friends and others at a young age, and generally just felt so "raw" emotionally, that I was starving inside, thus I starved my physical body as well.
Being thin made me feel safe. It made me feel like the less, the better.
I don't say all of this because I'm proud. I'm ashamed to say all of it, but it's the truth.
Yet, when I hear that, my eating disorder tells me what I'm hearing is, "You've lost your control. You've let yourself go. You're no longer safe and you're a big mess. You're vulnerable now."
See, being thin made me feel invincible against pain and closeness. Perhaps because I associated my old body with all that I once lost. Though I'm over that now, the feelings of how great being thin felt, never left.
Though I don't act on ANY of those thoughts anymore, which is something I'm immensely proud of, I can't always control what my thoughts are.
Today was a day that I wanted to go back to being so in control that I felt "together" even though I was coming apart. Certain negative comments from others got the best of me today, and being short of sleep and mentally exhausted didn't help. In fact, I tried to prepare this blog post three times before writing it over.
Then, tonight as I crawled into bed, and yet laid down for an hour before getting back up to write what I really wanted to say; what I really needed to say: the truth.
While I pride myself on blogging and advocating about health, nutrition, recovery and fun food recipes, the truth is, I was ashamed to be honest about this issue. Why? Because so many others turn to me for help and advice, and how could I let them down by telling them that sometimes, even I too, miss the old days before recovery?
Then I realized something. I can't properly help others or give them advice, or progress on my own journey towards recovery until I'm 100% honest- with myself and with you.
So, instead of giving you a bulleted list of how to successfully recover, I'm going to tell it to you straight: it's messy, it's no fun, it's a rollercoaster, it takes years, and YES IT IS WORTH IT.
See that last part..
IT'S WORTH IT.
Hunger, obsessions with food, binging, starving- all of that takes the life out of you.
Real life- that's worth recovering for. Even the messy parts, because at least you can feel again.
At least you can have a chance at normal again.
At least you can find yourself again.
And only recovery can do that.
Do any of you ever struggle with this issue? It's not something I'm proud of or like to admit, but it is honest and honesty, above all else, is what will give you a successful recovery- even when it's messy honesty.