I fell into this trap where everything I thought I knew about triggers and recovery was wrong. Women I put on pedestals said things like that just weren’t real. I started to feel bad about my own thoughts in recovery — maybe I wasn’t really in recovery, or maybe I wasn’t even sick in the first place, hence why I was able to be almost three years free from eating disorder behavior. After all, the Great Ones never reached that point, and if they did, their recovery was obviously a ploy to cover up extreme disordered eating. And if it was neither of those things, then they were dead.
I no longer want to fall into this trap where I am helpless and out of options. Maybe there are people out there who are just too sick and deeply ingrained to ever get better, but I really don’t believe that.
I will say that I don’t believe an eating disorder is ever cured, but I do think it’s 100% possible to manage your symptoms to the point of living your life healthily, both physical and emotionally.
Somebody on Tumblr recently asked me if I felt my past recovery attempt was just me being in a pink cloud of recovery, or in other words, in denial and living in a fantasy world where recovery actually existed.
In short, no.
And I must say, I think it’s totally sad that any progress in recovery is blamed on this pink cloud, and that anyone who attempts to treat their eating disorder, or GASP!, love their body, is seen as naive or delusional.
A pink cloud generally lasts for only a few months. I was in recovery for almost three years. And although I cannot explain for me the exact moment things changed, I can say that something did eventually “click” for me, as if all the puzzle pieces finally fit together in my brain. The world and living inside it just made sense, and it’s honestly as if I finally understood the meaning of life, or at least my life.
I was content and happy, and anorexia was no longer the first option I turned to when I was stressed.
There were triggers, which do exist, but it’s in recovery where I learned to combat them. Like any other chronic illness, it needs to be managed and treated daily, and I treated my eating disorder by being aware of what triggered me (any person, place, or thing that triggered any emotion that would trigger me to engage in eating disorder behavior or thoughts), attending 12-step meetings, seeing a therapist, following a food plan, getting rid of the scale, and working the 12-steps. It’s when I stopped doing those things that I relapsed.
Recovery was difficult at first because I kept trying to treat just the eating disorder — the food behaviors, the negative thoughts associated with myself and body, etc. It wasn’t until I started working on all the underlying crap — the rage, the sadness, the insecurities, the jealousy, the immaturity, the ego, the conceit, the arrogance…I had to treat all that in order to finally feel free from whatever was trapping me inside my own head.
And once all that occurred, I had to finally surrender and let go, realize that the world did not revolve around me, that I wasn’t some special one-of-a-kind human being for being able to be anorexic, that things were going to happen, sometimes bad things, and that was okay, because I had faith that as long as I took care of my shit and kept my side of the street clean, then I had nothing to worry about.
And people may say that’s naive, to pretend like everything is always going to be okay, but you know what? Even if I died in some horrible car accident, at least I wouldn’t have spent the days before that stuck pitying myself for being sick, or depressed, or poor, or jobless, or hopeless.
There are bad things in this world, and people suffer, but they don’t have to.
And I know it will be hard for people to grasp that concept, especially when there are so many people who suffer due to no fault of their own, but I can only be grateful for what I have, that I’m able to arrest this illness if I choose to do so, and that I don’t have to feel ashamed or guilty or doubtful that recovery is real. I don’t have to feel like I betrayed anyone or let anyone down, because I wouldn’t be DOING it for them. Fuck, sometimes I feel like choosing recovery would be like me choosing not to do drugs in high school and being made fun of for it by my peers. But we aren’t in high school for God sake, and this isn’t some after school special where I’m called a “square” for being straight.
I pity those who no longer feel it’s an option, that this is who they are, that this is what their life has become. But I no longer wish to get sucked into that trap where they are right, because I know for me, I’ve experienced true recovery, true happiness. And if others think that that means I never was sick in the first place, or that my recovery was somehow fake, that’s not my business.
And last but not least, to those who question why on earth I don’t choose to go back to that, I don’t have any good answers. But I do know that I don’t stay this way because I think recovery is a pipe dream. I know it’s there, and I know I can attain it. But I really have to stop telling myself that I was meant to have an eating disorder, because that’s such a selfish, self-defeating thought.
Why should I admire those who are lost? Maybe I should look up to my past self instead, because that person wasn’t a victim. Misery loves company, and I’m so, so tired of providing that company to the people I saw as Queens.