Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.
Even though my life today is the best it has ever been since my eating disorder started, from time to time I still find myself glorifying my body at its most unwell. I get sucked in and look at old pictures of myself, only to feel worse about the body I have today. I reminisce on all the “good” aspects of that body. And when I am in a vulnerable state, I miss how that body got me noticed, how that body let me control it. How that body was there for me when I felt so painfully alone in this world. But when I catch myself longing for the past, I also make an effort to remember the not so glamorous parts of that body. It was a body I was dying in. It was a body that was so weak, tired and broken I could barely get out of bed. It was a body that isolated me and took me away from the people I love. It was a body that was no longer mine but rather anorexia’s.
So when I think about the body I used to have, it is with a mixture of feelings: happiness that my illness no longer dominates my life, a longing for my anorexic body and gratitude for that body. It sounds a little strange to be grateful for something that consumed my life and controlled my every move, but in my darkest moments, when I was faced with overwhelming thoughts of wanting my life to end, the thing which kept me alive was knowing that the number on the scale was going to drop and I did not want to miss seeing it. So even though that body was slowly leading me to death, it also kept me alive long enough to reach the walls of a treatment facility where I could truly begin saving my life. For that reason, I am so thankful for that body and all the fighting it did to keep me alive even when I was not capable of doing so myself.
However, these days, my goals have changed from merely surviving to embracing life and truly living. So no, I no longer want to barely make it by day by day, thanking my body it kept me alive only to deprive it once again. This realization and change of my thought processes occurred through a lot of treatment, therapy, time, self-awareness and trial and error in recovery.
I have learned the importance and value of a healthy body and what that means to me. That does not, however, mean I don’t miss my eating disorder and the body that came with it. It just means I am better able to deal with those thoughts because of how recovery has impacted my life and all the support I have around me. Today, my life is full of love, connection, laughter and peace because of the healthy body I have worked so hard to obtain. The tears I cried over this new body, the hatred I felt towards myself, and all the times I thought I was never going to be able to recover has all been worth it because I no longer need my body to live for me. Recovery has given me the ability to claim my life back and put my body back in its place, as just a body which allows me to do the things I love.
I hope we can all try to be a little bit nicer to our bodies, whether you are struggling with an eating disorder or not. All bodies truly are remarkable and it is time we start believing that.
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