I read a lot.
I often read the stories of others in my situation. I read their stories of struggle, their stories of recovery, their transition stories. Stories about their frustrations, hopes, fears, dreams. These stories made me sad, empathetic, understanding, inspired, and most of all confused. Especially the stories of those who live a life of recovery. I would read their story, smile, and then become perplexed with the fact that I didn’t know their secret. They talk about recovery, a recovered life, how it is all so exciting. They love their bodies, eat what they want, celebrate with friends, family, and food, and live life to the fullest.
How did they get there?
How do I get there?
For the longest time I was fighting blind. I did what I had to because I had to. I ate the food, planned the meal times, went to the therapy sessions, worked my butt off… But for what? I told myself it was all “to get better”, but I was frustrated. I really had no idea what the fuck “better” was. I was striving to recover from a life of soul crushing hopelessness to something that was supposedly sunshine and rainbows for the majority of the time. How would I know when I got there? Where was this place anyway? What in the good sweet name of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was I working toward? What is “recovery”?
I’m not exactly sure when it hit me. I guess I’ve been toying with the idea for a little while now. I became so sick of the meal plans (yet I keep up with them because it’s what needs to happen right now), but I was beginning to taste freedom. Not measuring entire meals, changing meal plans on the fly, learning to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full, trying food that I would have previously considered off limits (like organic chocolate, or munching on food as I prepare a meal and not counting it in my day), or planning my meals around my activities, not my activities around my meals, playing guitar, creating a piece of art, applying for a job, acquiring an internship. These little tastes of freedom started happening more and more, and I liked it. All of a sudden I was pretty well hit with a sack of bricks, or hammers or potatoes… Something to that effect. “This is what recovery is, damnit!” says whatever is beating me with this bag of heavy objects. “You matter!” *WHACK* “You won’t get fat if you have a piece of chocolate, or go to the gym three times a week instead of four!” *SMACK* “You won’t die if you don’t weigh yourself!” *WAH-BAM* “You can like aspects of your body for what they do, not what they look like!” *THWACK*. Surprisingly, after all of this abuse, I felt very enlightened and excited. My mind has been racing since this happened. I can’t sleep, and sometimes I smile to myself. It’s a really scary thought… “I matter”. I say it out loud. A lot. It reminds me that I am here. Right now. A human being who doesn’t have to live within these walls.
I know what I’m fighting toward.
I know what it is I need to do.
And I’m gonna fucking get it.
I was told by many that recovery is like climing a mountain, or a ladder to a really tall slide. The top is when you reach that epiphany moment. All you need to do now is sit down and enjoy the ride. I really do get it when people say “trust the process”. I get it. I understand. I know what recovery looks like, and I’m going to own that shit.
Now. I’m scared to death, don’t get me wrong. I’m teetering on the edge of the mountain, ready to jump. I’m tentatively sitting on the slide, edging my way down. I’ve made progress since my Ah ha moment, progress like not weighing or measuring my breakfast meal as well as my dinner meal, eating when I want to, giving into cravings (last night I had a square of chocolate because I wanted it. My craving was satisfied, I didn’t blow up like a balloon, and I moved on), working out when I want to for how long I want to, allowing myself more rest because I am entitled to being “lazy” and doing fuck all, smiling, and as of today, not writing in my workout log any more. I used to keep the log to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it when I was cleared for exercise. It was also a handy place to write down my favorite workouts. Now that I’m at a place where I can workout at my leisure, I really see no sense in controlling myself through planning workouts, feeling the need to achieve a certain number of exercises or sessions in the run of a week, or logging my exercise every day. It’s just as bad as counting the calories in a sense. Another control mechanism that I shed in order to say goodbye to dear old Eddie for good.
This Thursday I am going to my cabin for the long weekend. I will not weigh myself for four days in a row, I will do what I want when I want to, and most importantly I will REST. I am fucking entitled to it because I matter (ah, that feels so nice to say). I want to hike, do yoga, bike, go on a whale watching cruise. I will do these things, but I will not feel compelled to exercise, to get in a certain amount of kilometers when I bike. I will not set alarms. I will sleep in, and I will be awesome. Believe it or not, this all involves an extreme amount of effort. I really have to work at myself to relax. It’s a battle in my head, but it’ll come naturally eventually.
So there you have it, my Ah ha moment and a bit of an update all wrapped into one. On a completely unrelated note, I am obsessed with Lady Gaga’s new single, “Applause”. It’s been on repeat, no lies.
So. Enjoy your week, fellow recovery warriors, friends, amigos, brethren, folks… You get the picture. You support never ceases to amaze me.