A while back, I was asked by one of my readers to create more posts on my recovery. Because my journey has been so personal, it’s been difficult to share. Although I made the decision to recover more than two years ago, this year has been the most difficult of the two. As I reflect on my recovery, I look forward to sharing my struggles and strategies. I’ve often thought that if I can help one person, my journey will have served a purpose.
I’ve not blogged often since this past Christmas. That’s when things got real. I needed to take a break from blogging to focus on myself. For years, my eating disorder was very numbing. As long as I focused on food or on purging, I would have to deal with little else. I simply was at a point in life, that I wanted more. Although I’ve considered myself to be in a recovery mindset for quite a while, I realized, after Christmas, that I was still occasionally turning to food for comfort. I was still wearing my baggy winter clothes and avoiding the body image issue. I knew that I had to confront my food issues, my body image issue, and my recovery weight gain before our upcoming cruise in June. So, I set goals. As a teacher, that’s what I do.
Goal 1- To Become More Comfortable in My Skin- Before the eating disorder, at 25, I never considered myself to be too large. I was perfectly content with my weight. I might even venture to say that I was confident. Ironically, I probably still don’t weigh what I weighed then, at the weight I was the happiest. My goal is to find the contentment that I once had. I’ve gained more than 20 pounds since my commitment to recovery. Every single pound has been difficult. Correction- every single pound has been excruciating. I have been tortured with the guilt and agony of every ounce of my weight gain. I didn’t feel thin at my lowest 70 pounds, and although I refuse to set foot on a set of scales, I surely feel less than thin these days. Since Christmas, I have focused every ounce of my being on accepting myself, flaws and all. I’ve made myself look at my legs in the mirror. I’ve forced myself to wear leggings and shorts. I’ve made myself appreciate my ability to walk and to have strong legs. I’m proud of the muscles that now show in my arms due to the hours of strenuous yard work. I have learned to appreciate that my body shape is unique. I will never be paid to model in a magazine, but I am normal. I’ve found that it is so liberating to allow myself to be normal! Although I still don’t feel as comfortable in my skin as I did at 25, I feel more confident that I have in more than 15 years.
Goal 2- To Overcome My Addiction to Laxatives- Embarrassing? Absolutely. There was a time in life when I’d do anything to be thinner. Anything. My health wasn’t important. The hours of stomach cramps I’d endure were a sickening self-punishment that fueled my self-hatred. For more than 15 years, it had been an addiction in which I’d longed to be free. Every time I’d go a few days without the infamous pink pills, I’d retain water to the point that it was unbearable. I’d hang my head in shame every time I’d make the purchase in the drug store. If I didn’t have a stash in my purse, I’d suffer a full-blown panic attack. Although they didn’t actually cause me to loose weight, they’d temporarily make me feel thinner. However, by the afternoon, I’d suffer from water retention; sometimes causing at least a five pound difference in my weight. This past March, I had a friend with an eating disorder that suffered the horrid experience of having part of her colon removed in an emergency surgery. I knew, in that moment, that I’d have to learn from her experience. I had to break my addiction before it was too late for me. So, that day, I stopped. Cold turkey. For weeks, I swelled to the point that I thought I couldn’t bear it. It took all of my mental strength to get through each day and to find the willpower to continue with my quest for wellness. Finally, only in the last few days, I have noticed that my body seems to be settling into a weight that seems natural. I no longer suffer from the extreme weight fluctuations. My skin isn’t as dry and I have so much more energy. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed with joy that I’ve finally accomplished overcoming my addiction.
I’m proud, as I go on our cruise in a few weeks, that I’m in a much different place than I was when we first cruised eight years ago. I’ve worked so hard to meet my goals. For the first time, I can enjoy my vacation without the baggage of my fears and addictions. I’m so grateful for the nutrition classes that I’ve taken this year. Had it not been for my nutrition classes at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I am now. For me, knowledge and the desire for wellness has been empowering. I’ve been through so many different seasons in my life. For me, finally, this will be the summer of my life.