When you embark on a journey, you may have an idea of what you want to do or the path you want to take, however, it's not quite that straightforward when you actually take your first step on your way. Even with the best of intentions, the road ahead of you has bumps and hidden trails, curves and hills; and your mind is another factor that can greatly affect how your journey unfolds.
The year before I decided I wanted to recover, I kept hearing from people "you are such a wonderful person, you have so much potential, there's so much more to you than the eating disorder." At the time, those words went in one ear and out the other. Sometimes I'd get frustrated for hearing them over and over; and other times it would make me shrink further down and curl inside myself. It was as though those words were so overwhelming that I felt paralyzed and trapped, and guilty that I couldn't see that about me, or that I couldn't do anything to will the eating disorder away. (Now I know recovery is not about willing anything away, it requires a lot of hard work, determination, and fight.) It almost made me feel worse at times, because I suppose it meant that I wasn't living to my full potential. Of course I wasn't. I knew that and everyone else knew that; but still I felt like I couldn't do anything about it.
That last year was not only exhausting, it was debilitating and so bleak it is almost hard to recall what each day was like. Thinking about that now, I wonder if it was so traumatizing that I blocked out some of those memories.
In the past year, while establishing Living Proof MN and starting my mentoring, some of those memories started flooding back into my mind, my memory seemed to open up a bit and there's times now that I can so vividly see a certain point in time, feel the hurt inside of me, feel the sensations building in my throat, and even smell or taste certain foods.
Yes I have lived through those horrendous years and they are behind me, but they also help me when working and mentoring other people struggling with eating disorders. They give me the ability to speak to the ache people feel.
The other day, I spoke with a young woman about her family life. Her mother controlling, her dad quiet, siblings of various ages, and the weight of the world on her shoulders. As she talked about her struggle with anorexia, I saw myself in her. There were so many similarities. It made me think about the majority of people struggling with eating disorders, are we more similar than different. What would it be like to discover those certain triggers and affect them so the eating disorder doesn't get triggered in the first place? It's an interesting concept. That would require people to be raised differently, treated differently, spoken to differently, cared for differently, and for the society to make some drastic changes. I don't know if the world could even handle doing this, or if it's capable of those changes.
When I talk with someone struggling, I am most impressed by the courage and the fight they have and their strength. They are remarkable individuals. I have learned more from them than I have from any book or movie, specialist or research paper.
And it makes me so grateful to be a part of their healing journey, to see that first spark of light, and the glimmer in their eyes. I have seen their hearts ignited and their desires to live refueled. To watch someone return from the darkness is an amazing experience, I wish this for everyone. I know everyone is capable of it. I never thought I'd be proof that it could happen, but now that I am living a life in recovery, I am without a doubt convinced that recovery is even more possible. Not just for some, but for everyone. And having the right people in your life, helping you to see the light, is most important.
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The Beyond Rules Recovery blog is written by people who are passionate about mental health and wants to spread the message of hope, resiliency, and recovery.