Stories of Recovery
You have been a part of my life for quite some time. When I first met you, I was struggling so much in my life. I felt alone, ashamed, inadequate, and like a failure. Life was dark and gloomy to say the least. You said exactly what I wanted to hear at the time. You would take away my feelings of loneliness by always being at my side. I would no longer need to strive to make friends because you would be my friend, even my best friend at times. I felt incompetent and you offered concrete goals that I felt I could achieve. Goals that would bolster my self esteem because only I could achieve them, no one around me could possibly have the commitment and strength that I did. While I struggled to achieve perfection, you provided me with several perceived paths to perfection. I would learn to be perfect with each of my eating disordered behaviors. You would also teach me how to lie to those I loved, live in isolation, hide my emotions, and pretend that “everything was ok.” I wouldn’t have to feel the painful emotions because your plan would allow me to numb them out. Oh and yes you promised me I would lose weight, which ultimately would bring happiness and meaning into my life. After all, these feelings were directly tied to what I weighed weren’t they? During a time when the doors around me seemed to be closed with dead bolt locks, you offered me the “keys,” or so I thought. How good your promises sounded to me then.
Over the years, trying situations would come around and often I would panic on how to cope with them. Kindly, you stepped in to offer support and to reassure me that there were ways to cope and not have to feel the emotions. The plans were concrete and predictable-no guess work necessary. You failed to mention though how destructive your plans would be. Slowly over time, you brought more darkness into my life. Isolation and restriction drove my daily decisions. Developing lies to tell others became automatic around meal times, snack times or any social event for that matter. The scale you bought me, along with the calculator to count calories, wasted so much of my mental energy. Who knew I could become so exhausted by simply stepping on a scale or typing in numbers? What happened to numbing out emotions? While I didn’t cry much, I felt hunger pains and physical pains on a daily basis. I also felt anxious quite a bit, which didn’t make sense because you told me I would feel happiness and fulfillment, not feelings of wanting to jump out of my own skin.
There were times when I thought I no longer wanted you in my life. I thought breaking up with you would be so easy to do. Boy was I wrong. I would try to step out of my destructive routine into the big bad world only to quickly retreat back into your arms. I would tell myself encouraging words that came out more like a whisper while you would counter with your screaming statements of defeat. Others would approach me with concerned looks on their face, often commenting on my appearance. However, you would tell me how wonderful I looked and that they were just jealous. In reality though, they were concerned because they loved and cared for my well-being. You could have cared less. Something about you kept me coming back. I think as I got older, new life stressors came into my life. I only had one way to cope with the unpredictables of life. You were my way, no matter how damaging your ways were, I knew what to do.
One day though, my doctor decided to challenge your presence in my life. She did so straight on without mincing words. Boy did that throw you into a frenzy. Before I knew it, there was a part of me that agreed with my doctor and no longer wanted you apart of my life, marriage, or the lives of my children. My doctor seemed to know what she was talking about which angered you. Your anger came out through me as I resisted my diagnosis, therapy, and any form of higher-level care. My denial came out screaming didn’t it? I felt so overwhelmed, lost, and confused but you reassured me that you knew how to make things calm again. I listened to you all the time at first, but then more people entered my life determined to fight you. Soon I had a great support team of family, friends, and treatment providers. They were able to challenge everything you told me. Imagine that?!
While saying goodbye to you has been scary for me, slowly I’ve been able to see that saying goodbye to you means saying hello to life. It means breaking free from your control and painful lies. It means learning to love myself just the way I am. It means truly being present while enjoying time with those who mean the world to me. It also means feeling painful emotions and finding myself standing in the deepest of valleys. No matter how deep though, there is always light off in the distance. I only saw darkness with you. In saying goodbye, I am learning to live a life filled with all kinds of colors, uncertainties, and imperfections by eating, being mindful, taking time for myself. I am also able to take pride in saying kind rather than harsh words to myself. I am so worthy of the self-care and forgiveness that I preach to others. Letting go of you has provided me with whatever keys necessary to open and move through any doors that may close in front of me. Life is on the other side of the doors and now I know how to get there and experience it!