How It Feels to Move On From an Eating Disorder

The last two weeks have been, well, good. It’s challenging for me to say that because I don’t always believe I deserve to actually make progress in my recovery. My inner critic believes I have to be sick in order to be good — a seemingly backwards statement that doesn’t really make sense, but often feels true.

I have had many monumental “recovery moments” in the past two weeks. New things I’ve been challenging myself to implement into each day. I feel like I am doing this thing, I am recovering.

Yes, I’ve been recovering this entire time, but there’s something different about what’s been happening lately. I feel myself taking charge instead of prioritizing my eating disorder over everything else. I’ve realized it’s quite possible to be both in recovery and in eating disorder la la land. But la la land is the exact place I’ve been breaking myself from lately. I am making different, and sometimes difficult choices. I am being social even though that means unplanned events occuring. I am eating things simply because they are my favorite food. I am not just “following the meal plan” — barely, by the skin of my teeth. I am making a conscious choices to move on.

But does it feel great? Honestly, not really. There are moments it feels good, but most of the time it feels hard. I feel guilty and I so badly want to go back. But the glimpses of freedom from my eating disorder push me onwards toward the future. They keep me going. They pick me up when I start to fall. They propel me away from the mirror when I find myself only seeing the change.

The glimpses keep me hanging on — even when I feel tired, exhausted, worn out and weak.

Moving on doesn’t always feel powerful. It’s not the crowd shouting, “Hoorah!” at the end of the game. It’s giving up certain things, to an extent. I’m choosing to say, “Eating disorder, you don’t work,” after six years of believing that eventually, it would. And it’s hard to admit being wrong.

Sometimes I can’t even believe that I’m in recovery. How could I let all of those rules go? How could I let myself change? How could I give up my holy grail, my soulmate, my eating disorder?

But then there are the times I feel the light shining in through the window, I hug my puppy like it’s the first time I’ve ever seen her, or I laugh until my stomach aches. These are the times I feel alive. And I know these are things recovery is giving me.

It’s a difficult process, and feelings of weakness and failure are very much real, but they are not the reality. The reality is, you are strong by moving on from your eating disorder. Emotions and reality do not always coincide, but I am here to tell you that no matter how you feel, you can and you must keep going.

Because I am here, telling myself the same thing.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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