It seems kind of counterintuitive, but up until the other day when I posted my last poem “Inside a Box,” I kind of had this feeling that I hadn’t reached “recovered” yet because I was still unhappy a lot of the time. I thought “recovered” would mean that I wouldn’t feel sad or disappointed in myself. And “recovered” seemed untouchable – like I was doing all this work, but I would never be able to “get there”…because one thing or another wasn’t quite perfect in my life, be it swim, school, relationships, or life events completely outside of my control. I felt hopeless because I knew that other people had “reached recovery,” but I couldn’t for the life of me grasp what exactly that meant.
Sarah posted a comment on my poem that really hit home with me. She said in relation to me poem: “life isn’t happiness all the time, experiencing ups and downs is healthy and it’s a part of life.” Essentially, recovery doesn’t mean everything is going to be perfect. There are going to be days when you didn’t study hard enough for a test, or when your body is run down and you can’t focus or perform, or when certain relationships are a struggle. There will be days when you want to just shut down and curl up in a ball on the couch, wasting away hours staring at the ceiling and wondering when, or if, it will get better.
But there will also be days when you excel and learn and grow. There will be days when you are the strong person you knew you could be, when you are the charismatic, enthusiastic person you were some time ago, when you enjoy yourself and take time out to relax without having to fight a constant battle with a diseased, irrational thought process. There will be days when eating is just that – eating. When the choice of an apple over a cookie is not a measure of self-deprivation; rather, it’s just that you didn’t want a cookie at this particular moment, but you sure as hell will want one in the future! There will be days when exercise is for enjoyment, to honor your body that you have grown to accept and love. There will be days spent doing nothing with people you love and care about more than anything else in the world. There will be lives you save without even knowing it, there will be souls you help cultivate, there will be friends who can rely on you and there will be friends you can rely on.
Some days will combine the good and the bad – but that, in a nutshell, is life! It’s not always easy, and there will be sadness and pain. But there will also be happiness, joy, love, laughter, warmth, passion, and trust. There is so much more out there in life that isn’t tangible; it has to be felt, experienced first-hand. There will be days that you feel defeated or disappointed in someone or something, but this doesn’t make you a bad person or a failure. It’s how you react in situations of adversity that makes all the difference. The way I see it, we (and by we, I mean people with EDs) have two choices – 1.) run away from feelings by numbing them with the “comfort” presented by an eating disorder or 2.) realizing that life sometimes sucks, but this isn’t a direct reflection on ME or the effort I am putting out or my strengths and weaknesses. There will always be things beyond our control, and by accepting that we can finally move forward.
Isn’t that what recovery is all about? 😉