I’m at a point in my recovery where I’m comfortable being an advocate and an educator. I love when people ask me questions because it shows an interest in learning more about the complexities of eating disorders but also because it gives me a chance to speak up and reach out! It (usually) helps me heal a little bit myself.
However, I have come to realize that there is one question – unfortunately, a very common one – that is more painful than the others I’ve been asked. “Will you ever fully recover or will you struggle for the rest of your life?”
The answer? I honestly don’t know.
I don’t know and it’s terrifying. Out of all the beautiful souls I met during my journey through treatment, etc. Only about 10% have remained out of residential/inpatient treatment since I was discharged in April of 2014. A year in a half later and we’re all still very much so fighting off our demons. Although, I have remained at the outpatient level of treatment throughout the past 1.5 years, I am not “healed” or “recovered” by any stretch of the imagination.
I can’t imagine a life without food thoughts/fears etc. I have been alive for 21 years and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in disordered eating in some way, shape, or form, although I may not have been aware of it at the time. Apps like Timehop and Facebook Memories make this even more obvious to me by bringing up past statuses and posts which I read now and just shake my head in sadness. And although I never had these social media outlets in elementary school, I can remember sorting out our food pantry at home into what I could and couldn’t eat, as early as the 3rd grade.
I don’t fully know what “normal” eating is and if I’m being honest, what people TELL me “normal” eating is, still scares the crap out of me. Not because I don’t trust the people trying to teach and tell me, but because I don’t trust my body to be able to handle it.
To the people who are so proud of me for how far I’ve come and think it’s so admirable how I’ve “come out of this struggle on top”…I appreciate your votes of confidence, but I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed to hear: I am not out of the woods yet. I still have days where I struggle with behaviors and I still have food thoughts/beliefs/body image issues on a daily basis. I have come SO far, I wont argue with that. And I’m proud of how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked…but there is still so much progress to be made.
So, ask me questions – ask me anything! Don’t remain silent or make assumptions. If I don’t want to talk about it, I’ll say so. But be aware that sometimes I just don’t have all the answers.
Do I believe I can ever live a life without food thoughts/struggles? I pray to God that it’s possible. This struggle is exhausting and I don’t want to and don’t think I can do it forever. But I also don’t know life without it and so I can’t say what that life would even look or be like. I DO know that nothing is impossible for our great, magnificent, God!!
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
For the time being, I am finding joy in learning and attempting to understand the complexities of the life I live and the lives of those all around me. I am living more so now than I ever was before – able to be fully present for most days of my life. I find hope and peace in studying the word of my Savior and I strive to live each day for His glory alone! This life I live – struggles and all, is NOT my own. I owe everything I have and everything I am (be it a lot, or a little) to the One who put the stars in the heavens, painted the sunrise on the horizon, and puts breath in my lungs each and every morning. I am tired, I am still fighting a battle…but I am strong and safe in the arms of the One who created heaven and earth.
May life treat you well, dear friends. May you never stop learning, growing, and striving to become a better person each and every day. That is my prayer for myself as well as you! Happy Sunday – have a magnificent week 🙂