Recovery from anorexia is raw. It is messy. It is unkind. It is easily the hardest thing I have ever accomplished in my life. And it took years and years of hard, “knock you down” work. I was shoved to the ground and each time I painfully stood back up to fight more.
I’m happy to report that my default to distress in my life currently is positive recovery coping skills. If I’m upset I’ll express how I feel. If I’m sad I’ll talk to a friend about it. My eating disorder used to be my absolute default. Sad = eating disorder. Anxious = eating disorder. Angry = eating disorder. Happy = eating disorder. Now with years of recovery under my belt, I turn to positive recovery skills and stay on track.
But sometimes I struggle. I’m human. I may think “I need to lose weight” or “I need to workout more” or I engage in a behavior. It may be sparked by a relationship issue that I am dealing with or a life transition- life stressors become too overwhelming and I default to my eating disorder.
Thankfully these moments are few and far between, but during those times the eating disorder voice becomes deafening. And then the relief I feel for using my eating disorder is tangible-deep to my core. I literally feel the stress leaving each one of my cells and I can breathe again.
And then almost immediately I start to feel uncomfortable and my mind screams “This is not the way to handle distress! Get back on track.” I dive urgently back into focusing on self-care and emotional growth. I move forward.
My eating disorder was my default for over 25 years. When I was sad or anxious or angry I grabbed on to my eating disorder for dear life. It was the only thing that gave me that false sense of relief. I was utterly controlled by every aspect of it.
So I am gentle with myself. I acknowledge that I may struggle from time to time when I used to struggle all day and every day. My default for distress has changed from anorexia to positive coping skills. I live life feeling happy and free. Today I am grateful. It’s all about progress, not perfection.