After multiple treatments, I’ve been less open about my time in programs. I, as well as anyone, know the insidious nature of eating disorders and strongly believe that there is no shame in struggling, but that it’s the continuation of a fight and hope for something different that is important and brave. However, it’s been challenging to apply that to myself- to not hold shame. I have held myself back from letting most people in, the longer the journey has become.
For the past five months, I have been in a residential program and today, more than ever, I was reminded of the pride I have in my recovery, with all of its imperfections. I never expected this. I didn’t expect my actions as a child to turn into an adulthood flooded with mental illness. Though I do not pretend that my ignorance then is an excuse for my behavior now, the fact of the matter is that I do my best. Sometimes, that leads me astray. But, I never give up. That is something of which I will forever be proud.
Today, I graduated from what I hope and strongly believe to be my last residential stay. I was surrounded with not only love, but also inspiration. Beside me were women fighting every day against what feels comfortable to move into lives they lost, people from my past and those I will keep in my future, people who have shown me full recovery is possible, and a treatment team that reminds me of the value in compassion, intelligence, and honesty. I don’t know how I got so lucky.
Though there are so many things I never saw coming, the souls I have met in this unexpected path continue to remind me that everything works out in the end. Hope is the answer.
Today, I committed to the following… (This is a long one; brace yourselves.)
Rushing downward, watching the floor come closer and closer, seeing the sky grow larger with distance, hair flying upward as the body is pulled in an opposite direction. This was my constant sensation. The concept of falling was distant, yet I existed in a state of perpetual descents. Half breaths, measured decisions, pained movements, clutched fists were engrained as my normal- as the normality of all existence. Beliefs of the world were eroded with the fears of my past, which bound me together in a darkened madness. A world where complexities could be washed away with the serenity of the present moment, no longer crossed my mind as a possibility. I strived to survive.
Coming back in March was one of the scariest, most excruciating, and best decisions of my life. Similar to the snow, I could not conceptualize a day when my thoughts would slow and the pain would melt away. I had watched myself go insane, fully aware of what was happening, yet unable to recognize why or how to stop. My shame was palpable and my fear was devastating. I had to walk through these doors behind a mask I wanted nothing more than to hide and could not figure out how to remove. I was a victim of my mind, desperate for change, but having no idea what that meant or would look like. What I thought I knew had so quickly evaporated into yet another set of myths leading me astray. However, I agreed to follow.
Today, I agree to continue to agree. I vow to break rules, create new ones, and break those when they no longer work. I will push past my discomforts- those against the changes in my body and in my mind. I will fight what feels comfortable, blindly following those who tell me to do otherwise. I accept acceptance. I accept the unknown, the impossible, the inevitable, and the unenjoyble, in chase of the joy I now know is attainable. I agree to faith in what I don’t yet, but want to know. I agree to let go.
I hereby agree to expand; to let my soul run free in its nature, and swell with confidence, courage, intellect, and food. I agree to eat; not only to survive, but also to thrive. I agree to ordering in, and new foods, and taste-testing, and life-changing. I agree to jelly beans. I agree to fireballs, and hamburgers with bacon, and sprinkles on most things. I agree to ice pops, and Ben and Jerry’s, and real sugar in my decaf coffee, and then more jelly beans. Everyday. Over, and over, and over again. I will say yes to more- to more food, to more life, to more love and freedom. I agree to ask for more, even when my head disagrees. I agree to never feeling less because I need and want more. I hereby agree to be an eater.
I vow to nourish myself with food instead of numbers; to eat with my body, not my mind. I agree to eat outside the lines. I agree to the connection that comes in a life of eating; to connecting through eating. I agree to breaking the ties that kept me down, and creating new strings with my nourishment. I agree to be bound to my food. I promise to dance and play and love through the energy nourishment offers, and to include food in my passions. In doing so, I know that abandoning my food will leave me lost. I agree to doing so anyways; to doing so for this very reason. I agree to take pride in my partner: my body, and to always stay found with my food. I promise to beg, and jump, and leap into the life I want. I will continue to change my thinking and embrace the choices I have in doing so. I will encompass myself as I have learned to do with my people: in compassion with all of my limitations, and for my extraordinary growth. I agree to reach out. I agree to let people in.
There will be moments of which I won’t always be proud. There will be times I will want to hide. I know this. I am prepared. I agree, especially on these days, to honesty. I vow to offer over my shadow side, with all of the discomfort that comes with that. I agree to sitting. I agree to public transportation. I agree to honoring my body, when my mind says otherwise. And I agree to listening to my soul, when my body is quiet. I agree to flexibility.
I have cried a lot, pretty much every day, and I agree to continue to do so, despite, and also because of, how much my legs will sweat as a result. I agree to breaking down and knowing I am not broken as a result. I agree to the inspiration that pulls me back together. I agree to reading, and absorbing what I read, and enjoying what I read, and choosing books I enjoy instead of books I think I should read. I agree to taking my own advice.
Today, I promise to keep sight of what I love. I agree to words. I agree to fuel my writing with the energy I get from each bite. I agree to making that connection and using each connection as motivation. I will dismiss each expectation, each should and could and didn’t for all I can and hope and want to do. I agree to memories washing over me, because they will. And I vow to not get tumbled. I agree to swimming; to mermaid hair, and tanning in my bathing suit, and lying in the sun, and tears rolling down my cheeks with happiness and freedom. I agree to octopus tentacles and twerking. I agree to Sudoku and Kenkens and Bananagrams. I agree to yoga and exploration and laughter. I agree to swings and badminton and fun without rules. I agree to soul moments.
I have learned what I want and I agree to remind myself of what I can do in each day to get myself closer to that. I agree to doing things differently. I agree to life. I commit to fiercely protecting the soul I have uncovered. I agree to be here. I vow to choose right now over what has been or what might be. I will explore and live and open myself to a life filled with living. I promise to take responsibility for my actions and my choice in moving forward. Today, I agree to lead myself.
The snow has melted. The sun has shone. I am not falling. I stand today, firm on the foundation I, with all of you, have built.