My relationship with food was always complicated. For as long as I can remember, the thought of eating always came with a set of rules and a strategic way of conquering weight gain.
The thoughts were initiated by my mother, who managed to deal with her harbored body image issues that had continually festered and taken an outlet in a way that was less than ideal. Her intentions may not have been as perceived, but within my healing it was imperative for me to revisit this and understand how it all came to be.
The comments, expectations and restrictions so early in life set the path for my future, it became my greatest fixation and in time it would take over my life, it would turn from an obsession to an addiction that felt irreversible.
My life became more consuming as the years passed. At the age of 8, it began with obsessive thoughts and a fight to control everything, an overwhelming extreme fear of weight gain.
At the age of 13 I was entirely invested. I was a young person with anorexia who fought to make it through the day. The thought of eating was enough to send me into a frenzy, it would destroy all progress made and remind me I was a failure. Consumption reminded me of my weakness, as I fought so hard to reach the impossible standard I had set for myself.
As my starvation led to extreme cravings, I found myself progressing into bulimia. At first, it felt like I had all the control in the world, as if I held the secret and knew all the answers. I believed I could be in control of my binges and purges, but slowly it became an addictive and vicious cycle. I couldn’t break free. Everyday, one after the next, and I couldn’t stop my brain from initiating. My only hope was that come tomorrow, I would get it right, I would be given that chance to mend my disorder and seek recovery. I wish I could say this happened quickly, but this was just my way to survive it. Telling myself it was my last binge, my last and final day and I deserved it. This became the only way to ease my guilt, my only chance at getting through. I knew the truth, but the denial was masking it all, it was allowing me to benefit in an empty promise to myself in allowance of one last purge. When tomorrow came, nothing would change.
People who suffer with eating and body image disorders understand firsthand the way we beat ourselves down, we feel such anger and guilt, we feel deserving of the path we can’t escape.
Despite everything, deep in our hearts we know we want better, we know we want to be free.
My doubt continued to resonate, my racing mind left me with little to no control. I fell hard to my insecurities and the sympathetic, victimized voice within me that excused everything I was doing to myself.
Recovery isn’t easy, but I can say that with every passing day it gets easier. The light becomes brighter as we walk closer to a life without our eating disorder, we can see clearly, we can breathe, and we want that every day.
I fell on and off this path of recovery, as regression is something we must accept to be part of the process. I became so hard on myself, my expectations soaring higher than ever before as I remained low and ultimately incapable, I had to step back and reevaluate.
We must give ourselves patience and respect, we must build ourselves up after the years of never feeling enough. We must rediscover who we are, what we want for our lives and what brings us joy outside of food.
I stand today 4 years stable into my recovery. Falling backwards is no longer my fear, for I see my growth and I know exactly what I want for my life. I know what I am capable of and what it takes to get to where I want to be.
The hope and vision of recovery can get you through the worst of times. We can see our hopes and dreams taking form, while our internal enemies slowly dissipate into nothing of substance.
When we find ourselves rationalizing the behaviors that harbor us from being free, we are allowing this to continue. We are easing our consciousness that is far more aware than we truly recognize. Our judgment is clouded, our confidence and belief in ourselves veers to the back of our minds, coming second to the allowance of our eating disorders to become entirely who we are.
I have to come to terms with the truth I fought to ignore; I was content with allowing my chaotic behavior to take over my life, if the end goal was to finally feel beautiful in my own skin. The thought hadn’t occurred to me until years later, when I was on the outside looking in, in a place of a new perception that somehow opened my eyes, an understanding and acceptance that allowed me to continue forward, to only look back to see the strength I finally revealed in myself.
Taking ownership and discovering who you are outside of your relationship with food is imperative.
The journey of recovery is not an easy one, but in moments of wanting to give up we must remind ourselves that it will never be an instant change. We must appreciate the slow and steady growth that we are working towards. Giving up is never worth it. We must take pride in our small accomplishments that in time become the greatest.
My eating disorder was once my ultimate defining quality, the only thing I had in my life, and today I feel so thankful. Despite the hardest battle I had to overcome, the strength I have gained through my recovery will continually make me proud, it will remind me of everything I am capable of, and I will continue to fight.
Contributed by Alisha