Yesterday something pretty cool happened, Disney star turned singing sensation and let’s not forget, mental health advocate / eating disorder survivor Demi Lovato liked this transformation photo.
And soon after, the likes and comments of support started flooding in. I had literally thousands of people congratulating me for beating anorexia and orthorexia – and telling me how great I am. It felt wonderful, but it made me uneasy too. Because if I’ve really abandoned that girl on the left, the one who was her eating disorder, am I still an authority figure to those who look to me for help? If I completely lose touch with my eating disorder, how will I remember how will I help others overcome theirs?
Recovery Roots, Routines, and Food Rules
Each day I erase more and more food rules from memory. I no longer look at the clock to see if it’s “time to eat. And I rarely remember I used to rely on such a rigid routine. My recovery has in a way been rooted in forgetting a bunch of BS I once considered to be healthy like:
- calorie counting
- “filling up” on insane amounts of veggies
- “flushing out” my system with water whenever I ate something fatty or greasy
- exercising every single day
- only eating “safe” foods
- avoiding social situations where I’d be expected to eat outside of my comfort zone
But…The Struggle is Worth Remembering
While I have no desire to remember having full blown panic attacks when I had to eat something I hadn’t prepared, or the horrible digestive issues that came along with being underweight, or the lack of any life outside my measuring cups… I will remember overcoming them. I’ll remember how it felt to kick anorexia’s ass. I will keep touch with the eating disorder I once struggled with, without the triggers or the pain. Because now when I look back on my eating disorder, my recovery, and the recovery waiting for everyone who reaches out to me I remember these things:
- the first time I went grocery shopping and didn’t have an anxiety attack when choosing full fat milk
- the first time I took a shower after a big meal, with a bloated belly, and didn’t pick myself apart
- the first time I ate some ice cream without feeling the need to binge on all of it (or purge the next day)
- the first time my dad told me I look healthy not skinny – and I felt proud rather than disgusting
Those are the things I’ll reflect upon when I email readers back and when I encourage them to continue choosing recovery and self love. I don’t want to forget my eating disorder completely, and I won’t.
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