“Recovery” is a pretty scary word. Don’t get me wrong – it’s exciting, desperately hopeful, and ‘magical’ even, but it’s damn scary. When you start your journey it seems impossible, incoherent, totally unattainable – but slowly, very slowly, it opens up before you and becomes something you can touch (just a little, only sometimes), then grab, then whole-heartedly embrace. And once you’ve got it, you are never going to let it go.
When I started my recovery journey (and I’m not one for “journeys”), I put on a brave face and pretended like I thought it was possible. That it was “a thing”. As much as I wanted to believe it, I couldn’t imagine it was attainable to live a live without an ED. I was so utterly convinced that my ED was part of my core self- who I intrinsically am as a human being – that it was inconceivable to me that I could live without it, that I’d survive. I couldn’t see any future or understand what anyone was talking about – it could work for them, sure – but not for me.
I don’t believe that an ED inhabits your core self – it doesn’t fragment, or distort it. Instead, it shields it, and masks it from sight, like an infinitely high and unscalable wall that you just cannot break, blocking you from life itself. But by putting one foot in front of another, keeping your head up and your tummy fed, you start to gain strength and break down that wall brick by brick, and glimpse a future beyond the ED.
The most incredible thing about recovery for me was the space that it opened up in my mind to actually live life and enjoy it – to be present. Space – freedom – enables you to find meaning in places that before were totally engulfed with food thoughts, or worries about when you’re next run will be. Your relationships take on a whole new significance, and become gifts to be enjoyed, rather than encounters to be feared. Your time alone becomes a luxury, and your own voice emerges.
Without an eating disorder, everyday life itself has meaning, it’s no longer a daily torture or constant battleground. With every brick that you bravely knock down, a new world opens up that is so infinitely better than the last. In this world there is space to challenge yourself, to try new things – and succeed, or fail. To love, to laugh, to cry, to scream – and for each one of those feelings be to heard. It’s a colourful life – it’s true freedom.
Finding meaning without an ED is not hard – it’s everywhere! It’s simply being able to actually SEE the moments that are unfolding infront of you – from watching a couple embrace as they pass you from a taxi window and seeing love, to smiling at the cashier giving you your change and really meaning it – it’s being present, with yourself and with others, all the time.
My wall is broken down now, only rubble remains, but I will keep on clearing it away until there’s not one speck of dust – because dust makes the world look hazy, and I want to truly see.