I’m terrified that my daughter will end up like me. Image: Thinkstock.
Three decades of living with this [disorder] has brought me to a place where I have a sense of peace regarding the fact that I will never be recovered...
Content notice: ED (binge eating), orthorexia
I am living a lie.
At 41 years of age, I continue to hide this part of me, the part of me that I’m not sure how to let go of. The part of me that finds its way into my thoughts daily, and at times controls my every move. I'm so tired of allowing this part of me to define my happiness.
There have been times in my life when I have convinced myself that I am recovered, that I have beat this thing. I think when I was pregnant both times and nursing, my thoughts temporarily shifted to the nurturing and care of my unborn babies and nursing after them after birth.
As soon as I finished nursing my last child, those thoughts quickly turned rigid, negative, and demanding.
So many parents see themselves in their children. They delight in the similarities and look forward to watching that part of their child’s personality grow.
I’m terrified that my daughter will end up like me.
When I look back at my childhood, I can distinctly remember the first time I felt it — the pain of loathing myself and my body. Thinking about it now, it seems so insignificant, but that was my defining moment; the moment I can point to and say that is when it began.
It started innocently enough as a snide comment shouted at me from a couple of guys in a truck when I was 12 years old: “Hey your friend is hot, but you’re just fat.”
I was in sixth grade at the time, and had already spent the last two or three years becoming painfully aware of the fact that my body was not like most girls. I was taller and much bigger. My dad used to tell me to stand up tall and be proud of my height.
All I saw was a girl who was ugly and fat.
The tumultuous middle school years were filled with insecurities, experimenting with alcohol as an attempt to fit in, and my eating disorder. It had become my closest friend; something I could always count on.
Bulimia, orthorexia, the list goes on and on. I can put a check mark in most boxes. Looking at the words on the screen as I type them makes me sad — my life has been defined by labels.
I’m not really sure what my trigger was, the one thing that I can point to in order to place blame. That one moment in life that finally put me in the DSM-IV category of disorder.
Maybe that’s why I don’t look back: This is not about placing blame. This is about trying to move forward.
The size of my body has never dictated my obsession, my thoughts have. I struggled just as much with this at 205 pounds as I did at 125 pounds.
I’m not sure if recovery will ever be something I know.
The first time I went to a therapist about this was my senior year in college. Scared to death, I sat in her chair, my body shaking, head swirling, heart racing, and tears streaming down my face.
I didn’t want to be there; I was not ready to talk about it.
The first question she asked me was about blame: Who or what could I identify as the reason for this.
I didn't answer her — I got up and walked out.
Because I am the one to blame for this.
“Recovered”: returned to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
I think I finally realized that I can’t live up to those expectations. I’m not normal, and neither is my health, mind, or strength. It seems like three decades of living with this has brought me to a place where I have a sense of peace regarding the fact that I will never be recovered — never normal — and that’s OK.
I often wonder if I have put too much pressure on myself to be recovered.
I’ve never been hospitalized or needed treatment. You’re not going to read my story on a website dedicated to awareness around these issues; mine just lingers.
I often wonder how many of us there are: How many of us linger? The ones who fight and struggle daily to find balance and peace.
Maybe I need to let go of the word “recovered.” It has a lot of power over me — sometimes more than my eating disorder.
A small part of that adolescent, teen, and college-age girl still lives inside of me, and always will. I’m not sure if recovery will ever be something I know.
Maybe my acceptance comes from a place of not feeling shame, from letting go of the expectation that this too has to be something I conquer or control.
Maybe it’s OK that I live each day with the knowledge that I will do the best I can with the tools I have.
I often find comfort and strength in the words of Brene Brown: “Loving ourselves through the process of owning our stories is the bravest thing we will ever do.”
Dare I say I am finding a new path?
I have a new sense of happiness and joy that I have never felt. I am giving myself the freedom to breathe and not be focused on fixing things.
I'm being mindful each day and doing what I can in that moment with what I have, owning my story and being confident in who I am.
Maybe that is recovered.