03.29.17 // The Uncertainty Of Recovery
At the beginning of my eating disorder, I saw my disease as a means to an end. It was the means to get to my dream life. Forget about just being skinny and pretty and all those stereotypical “white girl looking for attention” illness claims - I thought it was going to make me successful. Restriction equaled control. Control equaled power, power that I thought I lacked in my life. Power that was being shielded by my insecurities and anxiety. Over exercising meant rigorous discipline that was going to make me better, faster, and more successful. The key part here is that I didn’t know exactly how, but the short term satisfaction of doing it was like a release of ecstasy. It relieved me of my doubts because I had something to think about besides my fear. When you’ve lived with anxiety for your whole life and have to deal with intrusive thoughts from OCD 24/7, having control over something as tangible and simple as food and my body was almost laughably dignifying. I felt that my purpose was being fulfilled, but the only thing being fulfilled was my ED’s goals.
I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this and in some way it doesn’t really even matter, but my eating disorder really only wants me to end up alone, or even worse, dead. I thought that it was the thing that was helping to get smarter, do better in school, be more disciplined, help people like me, and overall help me become more successful in life. When I think about success I think about a person having the ability to do what makes them happy. For me it’s about travelling. It’s about being able to learn what I want and help who I want. It’s about being able to give compassion to yourself and others. It’s about me being able to freely hang out with my friends. It’s about me being able to go and hang out with my friends regardless of what we are doing. It means doing the best that I can in work, school, and in my personal life as well along with remembering that I am human and I’m doing the best that I can. It’s being confident enough in yourself that you feel like you can do whatever you want but also keeping that compassion in the back of your mind. It’s being free of a rigid voice that tells you what to do all the time.
This sounds pretty ambiguous. And that is exactly how I like it now. I used to define success by my eating disorder rules. Those kept me isolated, away from school, picking courses depending on meal times, picking social events depending on what we were doing, and even picking jobs that centered around high activity - not my true interests. Ambiguity scared the shit out of me, it still does. My OCD thoughts and control try to tame that ambiguity, and now my eating disorder was starting to try and tame that uncertainty that came from going after what you want. It’s much easier to stick to what you know than to go out of your comfort zone and break the rules. With rules I had comfort, safety and also a sense of wholeness that I never dared to try and find before. With rules I also had a heart rate of 38, I distanced myself from the people in my life that I cared about the most. I didn’t talk to my sister for months. Me and my best friends became passing strangers, and my room, my scale, and the food on my plate became my solace.
So is ambiguity still a scary thing? Absolutely. But it is what I am more than willing to embrace so I can get off of this path that my ED is leading me down, the one that tells me success is being alone in my room crying all the time. The one that is making me life a life so two dimensional that goals seem like lofty dreams. Ambiguity will lead me to travels, to my friends, to the relationships I actually want, and to not be completely hallmark card - back to that fantastic ass I used to have that will lead me to wherever I actually want to go.
I’m all in to facing the fear, because avoiding it will just keep me where I am. I’m ready to embrace uncertainty, and commit to that. My ED doesn’t want me successful, but I want to be.