For a long time, I’ve been in recovery. It has been a slow process of taking each day as it comes, being ready for the inevitable setbacks, and, little by little, learning to trust myself. I remind myself that having come this far is in part a testament to my inner strength.
Regardless of where you are along your recovery journey, it has taken strength and courage to come as far as you have.
We carry so many identities. We are mothers, doctors, sons, free spirits, sisters, boyfriends, lawyers, artists, and teachers. Some of us are in recovery, from an eating disorder or another mental health problem. For a long time, I have defined myself by my recovery. Now, I feel like a butterfly that has just begun to break free of its chrysalis. I am sitting on the branch, wings damp and folded, feeling the air breathing against my skin. I am ready to say that I have recovered.
Recovery has been a process of finding meaning again. All the time, the horizon is shifting. I can see further now than the next meal, the next day, the next year.
Letting go of recovery is scary. It brings up a lot of questions and a lot of uncertainties about the future. I am trying to focus on those parts of myself that haven’t gone away. Perhaps they got lost for a little while, but they were always there, beneath the surface, ready for when I needed them. I’ve been able to rediscover my creativity, my sensitivity and my love for home and family. I’m also trying to think about the things I want to do, and who I want to become. I won’t lose sight of my past, but neither will I let it stand in the way of my future.
It can take a long time to accept that recovery may not look the way your life was before you became unwell. For one thing, you’re older. You like different things, you have different goals, and perhaps life seems less simple. I had to grieve for the little girl I used to be, because I will never be able to see the world in the uncomplicated way that she could.
For another, you have discovered untapped wells of strength, compassion and deep understanding within yourself. You’re more complicated than you were before, but also more aware. Shadows are deeper but the sun is brighter. I choose to embrace the woman I am now, and recognise that I can bring about positive change in my own life and hopefully the lives of others.
Imagine yourself as the sky. Your eating disorder, or whatever challenges you face are the clouds. Sometimes, we have grey days where the sky is blocked out for a little while, but always, always it is there.
The clouds can’t exist without the sky, but the sky doesn’t need the clouds. You are more than your challenges, and you can remind yourself that they are, and will always be, smaller than you.
We are sufferers and we are strong. We are both of these things, and we will be so much more.
My experience has given me the courage to look beyond it.
- Created: 22 March 2016
- Last revision date: Tuesday, 22 March 2016 13:16