Outsides and Insides
Long time no post! I want to take this post to talk about where my mindset has been lately. Recovery wise, the lack of writing has a lot to do with me kind of feeling like I’m at a standstill. I know that’s better than going backwards, but it’s still frustrating. So often I wish I had a timeline for recovery, and assurance that someday this illness will no longer be in my life at all. That is what I struggle with though; the thoughts of “is this as good as it gets?” I try to hold on to the truth and promise that God is the ultimate healer, and apply it to my recovery. In all honesty, I’ve discovered what I call the ugly side of recovery. After the weight has been restored, and I don’t look like the person with food issues anymore. People comment that I’m strong and healthy, and I try to smile. But then comes the shame. The feeling like a fraud. My insides don’t match my outsides, and if you’ve ever lived that way, it’s confusing. I want myself to match. I want to look at that woman in the mirror who flexes her muscles jokingly at her husband saying “suns out guns out” and be proud that I am strong. But, I’m used to having noodle arms, and I don’t anymore and sometimes I really miss that thinness.
People talk about missing your eating disorder. That always sounded weird to me, but in some ways I get it. It makes me feel a little dark and twisted- to miss something that was slowly killing me. But I’m not going to lie, I miss weighing 20+ pounds less and wearing size X jeans. Not because I felt accomplished, but because it felt familiar. Let me be clear, it did NOT feel good. I felt like shit. But I was so used to that. It was my normal. And wether a person’s “normal” is healthy or not, it feels comfortable. I miss feeling more secure because I was “smaller” than all the people I was around. Shallow? Selfish? Maybe. But it’s the ugly truth.
Recovery, in the long term, is like slowly having a rug taken out from under you that you didn’t even realize was there. The rug is my eating disorder. Intensive treatment was different- that rug gets YANKED out from under you FAST. But slowly seeing just how much of my life changes when the eating disorder fades often makes me lay facedown on that dang rug and cling to it for dear life. Change isn’t easy. The realization that so much of my life is still affected by this illness isn’t easy. Sometimes I’ll feel great about where I am, but then I’ll walk into my dietician or therapists office and get hit with the reality that I am still very much disordered in some ways. Not always by my behaviors, but more so with my thought processes. And then I feel the standstill and I’m angry; because My God, I look healthy now and I can go more than a day without exercising and I can eat donuts; so why the hell can’t I just be FREE. And I’ll come to admit to myself that once again, my outsides doesn’t match my insides, and it is SO unfair. I look fine. And most of the time, I am fine. For that I am thankful. But when I do not feel fine, I struggle with wishing my appearance showed that.
Eating disorders don’t make sense. My therapist has told me this approximately 9825 times, but giving myself the grace to accept and understand that is still hard. I’m an ICU nurse, and I want to understand exactly why A causes B, and what can fix it. Recovery and eating disorders aren’t like that though. So, acceptance. Acceptance that my journey is not over, and that it may be far from over. That’s difficult to sit with. Grace. Grace for myself because I am human and I can’t “cure” myself by beating myself up over things. Grace is having hope. Right now I’m sitting on a plane flying to California for vacation with my family. Last time I was on that side of the country, I had just started recovery. It was my secret. I have a lot of good memories from the trip, but one of them was carefully hiding my eating disorder while still trying to not completely throw everything my treatment team was teaching me out the window. Kinda exhausting. Here I am three years later. I have a blog where I put my experiences and struggles out there for absolutely anyone in the world to see. I’m eating a snack right now. I’m not stressing over when I’ll get a workout in today after sitting so much. I see how far I have come, and I hope. I hope for the days when the things that seem impossible now no longer are. Just like the things I never thought could change, actually have.