It’s normal to be afraid. It’s not uncommon to be obsessed with reaching a state of “normal” during recovery. And you can pick yourself up by bringing yourself back from a state of fear
I read every single email and DM on Instagram that you send me, and one of the most common themes I notice in each message is fear
“I’m so confused and scared”
“It seems I’m going backwards”
“I am afraid I will gain weight“
“I get major anxiety if I don’t exercise”
“I feel like I have lost my freedom”
It’s not abnormal to feel this way when eating disorder thoughts shove their way into your life, and it’s not unprecedented to feel unsure of what to do next. Regardless of what area of your ED (or recovery) is giving you the most anxiety and fear – be it calorie counting, exercise, body image – today let’s focus on cutting it off at the source. To do that, we need to understand the fear.
In order to confront and understand the fear that an eating disorder places on our lives, I had to close my eyes and take myself back to 2013 when my eating disorder and eventually my recovery story began. The first thing that came to mind was one lunch I had at my old sorority house. It wasn’t a special day or even a rare meal that the chef had prepared. It was taco day. Mexican food lined the buffet table: lettuce, beans, rice, taco shells, soft tortillas, cheese, gauc, etc.
As my sisters were lining up, I remember rushing to my room and unwrapping two plain rice cakes and bringing them down to the buffet with my 1/3c measuring cup. I scooped exactly 1/3c of refried beans, exactly 1 tablespoon of cheese, and loaded up my plate with salad and raw veggies. I spread the small amount of beans and sprinkled the little cheese on my rice cake and as I bit into it I remember thinking:
Why would anyone make high calorie nachos or burritos when this is basically just as good?
Why would anyone submit his or herself to fear foods and extra calories when something safe is available?
Fear was making excuses for my food choices. Fear is why I brought my exact measuring cups to lunch day after day, despite my sisters’ concerned stares. And fear is why I was afraid to break away from safe foods, low calories, and my sick weight. So when you tell me you’re afraid to eat intuitively, afraid to gain weight, afraid to give up exercising obsessively – I hear you. I know your fears are coming from a real place. I also know that you have the power to shut them down.
There is only one thing that makes that scared feeling you get in the pit of your stomach go away and that’s facing them head on. Part of recovery is addressing your triggers and your fears even and especially when it’s difficult to do so. Remember that damn ranch dressing that made me cry? That was fear flooding my eyelids but as I brought that fork to my mouth. The fear got weaker and I got stronger. That’s recovery and that is all you choosing a better future for yourself
I know part of the fear is recovery itself, and what might happen if you relapse. You can think of relapse as fear making its plea to stick around. It’ll try to make you feel like it’s there to stay – but you decide when to give fear the boot again. That’s choosing recovery. And it’s a choice you’ll have to make often, but you should not be afraid of making it. It’s okay to feel lost and it’s okay to struggle with fear at your feet, but have faith in yourself that you’ll remember when it’s time to stand up. Fear is your body’s response to be challenged and being changed. And you are in control of that change.
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