Whenever people say recovery, they seem to assume that you just return to how you were before. But the truth is, theres no real “going back”. You have to reinvent yourself and learn who you are now because it won’t be the person you were before.
That sounds rather dramatic reading it back but it’s true. It’s also a good thing!
I’ve already written in depth about how I ended up becoming anorexic, which you can read in this post here if you’re interested. While I speak a lot in that post about being in recovery for the past few years, its not strictly true. I’ve been in what I jokingly refer to as half recovery: I’ve been eating regularly enough and I’ve gained back all the weight I lost (and then some!) but it took every bit of self control I had not to start starving myself again.
Then a few months ago I had a sort of epiphany: is the opinion of some random person walking past me on the street or some bully that I’ve not seen since I was 16 more important than my health and my happiness?
Of course not!
When I thought of it like that, it seemed so silly. True my original eating disorder wasn’t caused by wanting to loose weight, but once the illness (eventually) passed I realised that I’d become obsessed with staying skinny.
For some reason I thought that being so thin you could see every bone in my body sticking out was attractive. I only have one or two photos of what I looked like at the time but when I look back on them now it makes me cringe. I look so ill and even people that know me in real life say that they wouldn’t have known it was me if I’d not told them!
I’m up to a size 12/14 these days and being only 5 foot 1, it really shows whenever I gain any weight. I’ve always hated my body, have done for as long as I can remember- which is really quite sad when you think about it. No 5 year old should look in the mirror and hate what they see. I was badly bullied through both primary and secondary school: my life was pretty much a walking hell and it left me with some serious scars.
But now? Now I think those scars are starting to fade. I’ve finally started to love my body! My bum and legs are covered in cellulite and everything jiggles more than I like to think about, but you know what? I actually don’t care!
I’ve come to the realisation that the number on the clothes I wear does not define me. The number on the scales mean nothing. What matters is feeling comfortable in my own skin!
I’m no longer counting every calorie, worrying about the weight I might put on, I now just eat whatever I feel like. I also quit spending an obscene amount of money each month on the gym. The only thing I was loosing was money and as someone living solely on her student loan, that isn’t something I can afford to loose!
I won’t lie: I wouldn’t mind slimming down a little, but that’s mainly because I want to be able to fit back into my favourite pair of trousers again…
The thing with recovery is that it means something different to each person. I celebrate the fact that I can now go food shopping and go “I feel like having so and so for tea” or that I can actually cook my own food without it revolting me. Now I’m sure most 23 year olds could do both of those things a long time ago- not me. My not-so-healthy relationship with food has always made me detest the thought of even cooking food, let alone going on to eat it!
I’ve also learnt to celebrate even the smallest of achievements because, even thought they may seem insignificant to others, they’re big things to me. It’s almost like training a dog: you give them a treat when they do something good. The same works for us too: treat yourself when you do something you’re proud of!
Not that I really need an excuse to buy myself a new book or yet more ASOS jumpers though…