Warning: If you are suffering from or are in recovery from an eating disorder, this post may be triggering to you. Please listen to your inner soul sister or brother. xo
Six years ago, I was sitting in my doctor’s office. She was supposedly one of the best in the country. I was there to figure out how to gain weight but all I could think about was how many calories I needed to burn after I stepped on her scale and how I could get out of eating “too much” at dinner later that night. I was still really consumed by my eating disorder. Every thought was centered around food, exercise, and self-image. Every mirror was an opportunity to pose and check my thigh gap or see if cheekbones had magically appeared on my face after all that water I’d drank.
As I sat in the doctors’ chair adjacent to the dreaded scale, I was shaking and terrified. I’d come there against my will because my parents wanted someone to help me gain the weight my body desperately needed.
The doctor’s demeanor was cold and tough. No warmth to her personality. No passion behind her work. I remember one of the first things she said to me after I introduced myself and gave a brief synopsis of my eating disorder: “You have to gained roughly 20 pounds. You need to be at least 130 pounds to get your period,” she said. I looked at her like she had just stuck her hand in fire. “But I’ve never been that weight,” I said. Even though I was clearly sick, I was also clearly confused. Before I’d started restricting my food intake and overexercising, I was way less than 130 pounds. It’s in my genetics. My mom and dad are very thin people and it’s just the way I am built. It was really hard for me because I’d always been naturally thin and, at that moment, I started to question it. Again, I was questioning my identity and letting others define me. My doctor, who had no interest in getting to know me, believed that I had to be curvy in order to achieve recovery. Now, there’s nothing wrong with curves. I love them. They’re gorgeous and to be celebrated! They just don’t really come along with mybody type. And my doctor didn’t really care to get to know that about me. All she saw was “TROUBLED EATING DISORDERED GIRL” plastered all over me.
From that day forward, I believed that the only way to achieve recovery and get my period back was to gain a ton of weight and fit into a body type I didn’t really belong in.
In short, it was one big mind fuck.
You see, there is still this stigma in the eating disorder recovery community that, if you’re thin and recovered, there is something wrong with you – like you missed the mark somehow. That to achieve “real” recovery, it’s somehow a requirement to be curvy and gain a LOT of weight in order to achieve a healthy body. And while this is necessary for some people, it’s not necessary for all of us.
When I sat in that doctor’s office, I felt defined. Again. I mean, that’s what started this whole thing in the first place. I always felt like I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I was trying to be good in school instead of just doing the best I could and accepting it. I was trying to fit in with the “popular kids” instead of just being myself. I was trying to say what was nice and polite and “sounded right” instead of saying what I really meant. I believed that being special meant being trendy. Now, with this doctor, I felt defined again, which only fueled my eating disorder even more. Instead of focusing on making it my recovery,she was focusing on defining my recovery for me. It was like I was a child who had no say. I felt like I wasn’t being truly heard, and that lack of control only fueled me to go back to my old habits.
Two years ago, I became determined to achieve recovery on my own. I didn’t really want recovery, though. I wanted discovery. I wanted to discover BODYpeace. I was sick of people defining what recovery was supposed to look like and I wanted to create my own discovery of BODYpeace. I was sick of doctors telling me to quit the exercise until I gained the weight and to drink Ensure so I could gain weight in a “proper way.” Sure, I’ll gulp down a bottle of high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, and milk protein concentrate. Why not eat an avocado instead? It just was bananas to me. Pun intended.
So, being the rebel that I am, I did it my way.
It took a long time. And it’s still a working progress. But when i decided to invite Spirit into the equation, I began to know true BODypeace. I began to learn that the path to self acceptance starts with self acceptance. And I began to learn that I didn’t need to recover. I wasn’t incomplete. I just needed to discover who I really am, and this was a beautiful way to do that. Reframing this BODYpeace journey really helped. I started doing things to honor my body from a spiritual perspective. Instead of posing in front of the mirror, I would look in my eyes and say “I love you, I accept you, I see you.” At meal time, instead of counting calories, I would bless my food and bless my body. I threw labels down the drain and started eating what my body wanted. Most importantly, I began to view my body as a vessel through which I express love and kindness. All of my decisions about my body became a conscious effort to bring more love and kindness into my life, so I could then share it with others.
It was a lot of trial and error – mostly error. But I did it. And because I did decide to do it my way, I got the best gift ever: my period. Yesterday, actually. It happened. I got my period naturally. And, while I don’t know what I weigh, I know it’s not 130 pounds. My point isn’t to emphasize the number on the scale. My point is that discovery and BODYpeace is so individual. We are all different shapes and sizes and, if it is your body type, you can be thin and recovered. It’s possible. You’re not an alien and you’re not crossed off the recovery discovery guest list if you are thin, recovered, and have your period. You’re just YOU, my friend.
So, when you invite Spirit into your own BODYpeace journey, no – it won’t happen over night. There is a lot of confusion, a lot of detoxing old emotions and habits, a lot of getting it wrong a BUNCH of times before you actually get it right, and a lot of hardcore honesty involved. But I promise you it’s worth the weight.