February 26th will mark my 4th year in recovery from my eating disorder. Four YEARS! Can you believe it? In anticipation of this four year mark, I've been very thoughtful lately about my past, where I've been, how I arrived there, and how I have come to the place where I am now. And where is this 'place' that I'm talking about?
The place is happiness.
The place is peace.
It is a place filled with the knowledge that I don't need to obsess about every morsel that passes my lips, and the confidence to know the difference between hunger and pain (or hurt or boredom or anxiety).
It is also a place where I trust in my own body to tell me what it needs, and have the ability to forgive myself in advance for any over-indulgences that may occur on occasion.
I no longer live in a state of instability and chaos (inevitably dictated by the number on the scale each morning). Oh, what a total relief THAT is!
Above all, I'm coming from a place of love, kindness, and compassion.
This place was not discovered easily. It took a lot of work, self-doubt and determination. In all truth, much of the time, I faked it till I made it. It's still not easy at times, and I have my own personal struggles just as anyone with past (or present) disordered eating does. However, the bottom line is this...
PHEW!! I MADE IT!!
This fact makes me no better or worse than anyone else out in the universe. All it means is that I have mostly conquered my challenges, learned the tools to cope in a more positive fashion, and shifted my focus to the things that really matter to me. And, you can trust in the fact that I still have my struggles. Oh boy, do I ever!
Clearly, I'm still learning. Isn't that what life is all about though?
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~Eartha Kitt
The important thing is that I'm not acting out negatively as a result of my challenges. I have built a very nice support system in my friends and family, and I have been blessed with a future husband who looks at my past history with ED as a minor speed bump. Sometimes, I wonder why he doesn't worry about the possibility of a relapse on my part; I know I'm strong most of the time, but how does he know that I'm strong too? When I feel so weak at times, how can he still have faith in my recovery?
In truth, knowing the fact that he believes in me and my recovery is what gets me through many of these difficult times. The knowledge that relapse would not only let me down on a personal level, but it would also let him down (and inevitably damage the dynamic of our relationship). This is just not a sacrifice that I'm willing to make.
Along with the other supporters in my life, he has taught me that without a solid foundation, you cannot stand tall. Sometimes my support comes from my blog friends, twitter friends, family, and real-life friends...but the point is that I can't always do everything on my own.
With that in mind, I have spent the past year seeking out ways that I could help other people who are already in a state of recovery, or those who are trying to ultimately reach a decision to enter recovery. I've reached out to struggling people individually through Facebook, Twitter, email, and blog comments. I created Letters To My Body as a way for people to submit anonymous 'Dear Body' letters. All of my efforts have been met with mixed success, as anything in life is. The one thing that is certain is that I've developed some very solid relationships on the basis of ED recovery, and helped out where I could.
And I have again reinforced the fact in my mind that we are only as strong as our support team.
I decided that I needed a more structured way to reach out and help others in their path to recovery. I want to make a difference in another person's life the way that my support team made a difference in mine.
I made a connection with Shannon Cutts through Facebook. Shannon is an ED survivor, and wrote the book Beating Ana: How to Outsmart Your Eating Disorder and Take Your Life Back. I read several books while I was in treatment, and I recently read Shannon's book with a totally different mindset, since I'm recovered at this point. This book was as helpful as a recovered person as it probably would've been when my ED was in full swing. I highly recommend this book, not just for people who are diagnosed with an eating disorder, but also for those who struggle with disordered eating in general.
After connecting with Shannon on Facebook, I learned that she has started her own network of eating disorder resources, including a mentorConnect program that allows recovered individuals to act as mentors to those who are still in recovery.
I decided to join the program, and I am so excited and proud. I have made it to a point in my life where I can be a mentor to someone else who is in the same situation as I was in for so long. Although I have technically been recovered for quite some time, this feels like a milestone...as if it officially seals the deal.
I am recovered, and it feels great!
* Have you joined my Facebook Group yet?
* See how my training is going over here!
* Looking for my eBook?
*Check out my body image project!