Often we are afraid to look back. We are afraid it will hurt. In my case, I’m often afraid it will trigger.
I hadn’t thrown up since Holy Week of last year. My eating disorder never became bulimia. But as I worked myself through the first steps towards beginning recovery and tried to start eating better, I found my need to control escaping through other outlets – throwing up occasionally, picking at my arms and face until they bled, exercising for longer, etc. The truth is without dealing with the underlying issues, the need for control will find some way to express itself. As I faced with horror these new uprisings of need to control, I finally understood my therapists insistence that we focus on the other situations in my life, not just the eating.
This weekend I got sick. I was up every thirty to forty-five minutes all night, my body doing everything in its power to eject everything from my digestive system. It freaked me out. Partly because I hadn’t throw up for nearly a year. But more so because the last time I was sick like that it triggered my biggest relapse I’ve ever had.
It was just over six years ago. I was in Switzerland. I was sick all night and then proceeded on my way with the group I was chaperoning to Italy the following morning. Being in Italy for ten days and having no appetite is one of the saddest things that could be imagined.
But sadder yet were the months that followed, pounds melting off of me. Until I remember vividly the battle of the wills I had with a dear friend/mentor over eating a yogurt. Promising her that I would never drop below XX lbs… and watching that weight pass me buy… Seeing numbers on the scale that I’d never seen before… wasting away to a shadow of my former self.
In some way the relapse was a blessing. It finally convinced me to get the help I needed. To actually overcome the eating disorder not just bury it.
As I sit here I feel shaky. There isn’t a food in this world that sounds appetizing right now. And it can freak me out a little bit.
But the truth is I’m not going back. I’ve learned that I am stronger. I’ve learned tools to cope. Yes, there is still pain inside. Yes, it still seems enticing to find a way to avoid feeling that pain. However, I am a different person.
I am a person who knows what that pain is.
I am a person who is patiently awaiting and working towards healing daily.
I am a person who is not alone.
I am a person who is loved and worthy of love.
I am a person who has dreams and motivations.
I am a person who wants to be different.
I am a person who is not defined by her past.
I am a person who is stronger than this disorder.
Above all, I’m a different person than I was before that relapse. I am a fighter. I am stronger. I am more beautiful inside and out because of the battle I have fought. And that battle was not fought in vain.
There is no doubt this week will be a struggle to get back to where I need to be. But I do not need to be afraid of the struggle. And just like the last time I was sick like this, there was a blessing in disguise… Hopefully through this week I can form better, healthier habits and take yet another step forward towards who I want to be.