This post is for the person with an eating disorder that wants to get better. It feels impossible. I know.
I can’t even document how I got here, from ED to free. But I did — and if I can do it, you can do it.
But you can’t do it tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. That’s not how it works.
Start by plastering the most important word of all in front of your face: PATIENCE. Now, sit with that and accept that this isn’t going to be quick.
Finding freedom from an eating disorder takes time. ED is this devastating partner that you’ve had for so long that you keep going back to (and hate yourself for going back to.)
It’s going to be a drawn out, heartbreaking goodbye but that is not real. Real is past the heartbreak when you look back and see it for what it really was — victory.
Don’t count your successes by the day, only by the moment.
Start adding up your good decisions and you’ll find there are more good ones than bad ones. Most of the time, you are NOT making decisions to harm yourself. Most of the time, you are doing what is good. Focus on that.
Feeling the feelings is the hardest part of all. Yep, the feelings. They come at you like poisonous snakes slithering into your mind and your spirit, threatening…what? You really don’t know. And that’s the thing that gets you.
Sometimes, I still don’t know. I still feel the feelings — they can be overwhelming to the point of numbness. But I’ve learned something I never knew when I was with ED — the feelings, they pass. They really do — whether you binge them or starve them or throw them up or do nothing — they pass. The behaviors are the things you think will make the feelings go away. You are wrong. That behavior has no power.
Give the feelings a chance to roll over you and just see what happens. Just sit in them. You will not die. It is SO incredibly hard. Just try. If you can, go to sleep in them and wake up with an entirely new perspective of what last night was. Do you know what it will be? Not nearly as dark and enveloping as it felt right then.
And, yes, I know night time is the hardest place of all the be. You aren’t alone in that.
When you gain this perspective, it gives you a little ounce of understanding and strength for the next time the darkness takes over. The darkness is not quite so dark as before. Though you may not be able to tell, it’s happening.
Do not expect too much of yourself. Set down your “shoulds” and your “coulds” and live in this: “I can only be in this one moment.”
And while you do these hard things (and sometimes fail to do them, that’s okay), embrace uncomfortable. Live in uncomfortable — with people you don’t want to see, events you know you should go to, moments you don’t want to have.
Let the healthy uncomfortable sink into you. It isn’t fun but it’s worth it. The people who eat because it tastes good and nourishes their bodies and don’t obsess and move on with the next thing when dinner is over. There is a life like that and I mean this, it can be yours.
Your journey is different than mine. But this is part of how I got to free. Slowly, individual decision by individual decision, lots of falling down, often feeling hopeless but never letting go of hope. Like when the sun rises, it was slow and not always obvious.
From someone who did it (and felt like she couldn’t), you can do this. Say it out loud even if you don’t believe it. That’s where it starts. And even now, the morning has begun.
Need help? Here is a resource. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org