Reshaping Values Post-Recovery


I haven't been writing very much.

Okay, that isn't really true. I've been writing a lot - for newspapers in New York, for online publications and for freelance public relations gigs, but I haven't been writing on my blog nearly enough.

To tell you the truth, I haven't had much to say lately. Anorexia feels distant. It feels like a nightmare that went on for a little too long but was never actually real. It's not tangible anymore.

Until it is. Of course, I'm not completely cured. I didn't forget what I went through, and it does pop into my mind more often than I'd like it to. It's still a constant part of my life, something I think about every single time I get hungry. Something I even think about when I'm not hungry at all. It's always there. It's a choice I make every day. But it doesn't feel like it has such a hold on me anymore.

This is recovery. Getting over it. Reclaiming your life and trudging onward, but sometimes I feel guilty for not feeling guilty. It's a strange feeling to be moving on. I almost feel like I'm betraying my eating disorder.

However, I have to tell myself that I'm not betraying anything. I'm honoring myself. While you are suffering from an eating disorder, your values are shifted. They don't reflect you anymore - they reflect this watered-down version of you surviving on celery and self-hatred. Lying is permissible - how else would you make it in the world with a BMI of 14? Breaking the law, hurting someone's feelings - nothing strays from your moral compass because you don't really have one. You value skinniness above all else. That's your moral compass.

After you begin recovery, the world your eating disorder built for you is buried in the ground. Your brain chemicals start to balance out and you are reminded of who you really are. It will be a while before your thought process starts to shift, but it's a crucial piece of recovery.

As time goes on and I get stronger and healthier, I feel my OCDs and anxiety slipping away. I'm worrying about less and less - attempting to live life in the moment. This is an accomplishment, but it has me feeling a little lost. When you let yourself be defined by the habits of your eating disorder, it's difficult to navigate without them.

However, let's take a closer look at what I'm really letting go of. I view my OCD as an asset because it allows me to pay attention to detail and be somewhat of a perfectionist, but it also burdens me with a  massive amount of anxiety when something doesn't get done "correctly." Just because I've learned to handle things in a calmer manner doesn't mean I've "lost my edge" or am unable to accomplish things anymore. It just means I can get them done without the unnecessary stress, and for once I can trust myself to handle anything.

My need to be "perfect" isn't there anymore. Instead, it's replaced with a desire to be a good person. To treat others how I want to be treated, and to treat myself the exact same way. That's my own version of perfection.

I also don't judge others anymore, and that isn't anything I've had to work on. It came naturally when I stopped judging myself. The only reason we are ever unkind to others is because we are unsatisfied when we look in the mirror and/or into our hearts. We don't think we are good enough and we want others to be brought down with us. Once we recognize our own beauty, we can't help but see it in everyone we meet.

You may feel at a loss in recovery, like you're being forced to let go of the secret powers that made you superhuman, but that's just a lie your eating disorder told you to convince you to stay. It was chipping away at your brain, your self-esteem, your entire life, and you made the right decision. In fact, it's the best decision you've ever made.

There is no need to judge yourself so harshly or to convince yourself you were better off with your eating disorder, because you just weren't. We are not perfect and that is okay. We're just people. So live.

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