It’s a new year. A time to refresh. An opportunity to start anew. So, I sat down and started to think about what I wanted to share as we begin 2022. As someone in recovery. As someone working in the human services field. As someone trying just to be in today’s society; I realize that I am exhausted. We are all exhausted. I want nothing more than to provide a message of hope and positivity. I want to tell you to put a smile on your face and approach each moment as an opportunity for growth. But what I really want is to be honest. Because right now we all need more of this-including honesty with ourselves.
Starting down this path of transparency, the first thing I have learned is that there are good things in life and those things are worth recovering for. Adventure fills me with joy. New experiences bring a smile to my lips. The opportunity for growth and learning light me up. And I haven’t truly experienced these things for years. I thought I had; but in reality everything has been overshadowed by judgment and self doubt. The eating disorder has convinced me that there is only so much joy in life and I have already experienced all of it. But, I’ve had small, unexpected moments that have proven there is so much more in this world. Celebrating my niece’s birthday with unicorn cupcakes. Dancing at my sister’s wedding. Hugging the friends I haven’t seen in years. Writing more and sharing my recovery journey. This is all a part of my why.
I also realize that I’m not doing any of this alone. The world is constantly telling us that we need to be strong and independent. The eating disorder is always reminding us why we can’t trust. Recovery has taught me it is okay to ask for help. That when you find the right people, they will choose to stay by your side. That I can trust and actually rely on others.
Honesty is scary. I have had to own my behaviors. I have had to allow vulnerability and transparency in some of my darkest moments. Letting others in during those times has been helpful in building trust that there are people in my life who are not going to run as soon as things get tough. I now know that people love me. For all of my good, all of my ‘bad,’ all of my scary, all of me. These people, that I will do anything for, will also do anything for me. Find these people. Let them in. For me, it’s my partner, friends, and coworkers. It’s also my therapist, my dietician, my doctor. Surround yourself with people that allow you to be honest and authentic without fear of judgment or rejection.
Believing in the recommendations from my team is key to being honest with myself in recovery. These are the people that see me at my highs and my lows. Their role in my life is primarily focused on ensuring my well-being and supporting my recovery. They are the experts in their field and I’ve had to check my ego regularly. I frequently admit that I may be wrong. That I may not be the best judge of what I need; and that the eating disorder may still be in control of my decision making process. The eating disorder plays a powerful role in trying to protect itself and should not have any part in deciding what is best for my recovery. That’s not always something that I recognize.
Recovery is messy and recovery is hard. Like, really hard. I knew that going into it. And somehow it is still harder than I ever could have imagined. Eating disorders are relentless, sneaky, and exhausting. I am constantly on my toes. My days are filled with appointments and meal plans and emotions that I’ve avoided for years. Every time I make progress, I feel like I take ten steps backwards. And I want to give up on a regular basis. But, I can do hard things, and I don’t have to do hard things alone. And neither do you. Yes, recovery is hard; but in this process is also self-discovery.