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If You’re New to Eating Disorder Recovery, This Is for You

One thing I wish I had as someone who is very new to the eating disorder recovery process is a letter from someone else navigating the ups and downs of recovery. So, this is for them. And for me.

Dear brave, scared, beautiful you: the you who has just begun the recovery journey as is still nervous to even consider the word “recovery.” Welcome to this roller coaster of a journey.

1. First of all: “What is recovery?”

To me, recovery is not perfectly following a meal plan or showing up to every appointment with a smile and an Ensure. Recovery is not waking up and loving your body and not thinking twice before getting dressed. Recovery is honestly not even about the food at all. Sure, those are good goals and things to work towards but let’s start small. To me, recovery is about showing up: showing up to appointments when you are tired and don’t want to feel or think or talk or listen. Showing up to the table, even if it’s to cry through dinner or a snack. Showing up for your life, because your eating disorder has taken so much life away from you, you might not even recognize what life you have left. Showing up for yourself. Because there are going to be many people along the way to cheer you on and push you in the direction of recovery. And ultimately, you have to recover for you, not your mom or your sister or your partner or your therapist. You have to show up, hands open, willing for you. And if that isn’t one of the hardest parts, then I don’t know what is.

2. “What does recovery look like?”

Feeling, healing, and “meal-ing.” Recovery is not a straight line (which is the biggest bummer for those of us who like when things are black and white). There are days when you feel on top of the world and days when you feel like you’re in an endless pit of darkness. And sometimes, these aren’t even days, but moments. I’ve heard that eventually, it evens out and the emotions become a little less extreme. I’ll keep you updated.

3. “What if I mess up? What if it’s not perfect? What if I disappoint everyone? Is it OK to still miss my ED?”

Great questions! And when I work through the answers, I will let you know.

All I know for right now is that wherever you are is OK. My last (and most favorite) therapist helped me to realize that we all grow at our own pace. It’s not a race. It’s not a contest. It’s your life, and as long as you are moving, you are learning and growing.

So, my best recovery advice? Let’s all be a little more like snails: growing and moving at our own pace, going inside our shells when we get scared, but always coming back out and moving forward. Snails see the beauty in every inch and always come home to themselves. Those are my recovery goals, simple as that.

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash