Learning How To Be Thankful For Recovery
Before Reading: Trigger Warning.
While recovery from an eating disorder can be a beautiful thing, it’s not just yoga and coffee and loving your body and eating bakery treats at Panera. It’s not easy and it doesn’t go away. Recovery is an active process that requires work and commitment and support from others. Would it be easier to just fall into sickness sometimes? Yes. Do I miss the body I once had, the power I felt in that, and what it symbolized to me, whatever that was? Absolutely. Is it hard for me to eat intuitively and not compare myself to others? Without a doubt.
I remember one Thanksgiving, I was close to my lowest weight. Every Thanksgiving after that has been a comparison. It’s hard to be thankful for something (food and recovery) that keeps me from what I want (being skinnier). It’s easy to be jealous of others who are still struggling because they’re succeeding at what I’m losing at and have a body I wish I did. It’s hard to be thankful for recovery when it goes against everything you’ve wanted for years. When it was your coping mechanism for emotions, your security blanket, your means of controlling the world. It’s like when you’re little and your parents force you to apologize to someone—do you really mean it? Or when you get a present that’s not at all you, but you have to emphatically say thank you anyways.
The Thanksgiving when I had just started recovery, I remember my therapist suggesting to me to focus more on how good the food tastes and the family around me. I worked my hardest to do so and more or less found success. I tried to not worry about others judging my weight gain or amount of food. I tried to be happy with where I was, reminding myself of the goal and what I would gain from recovery that wasn’t weight.
While it doesn’t feel as good as it has before, I feel like I’m in recovery still now. Recently, I’ve been struggling with body image, weight gain from antidepressants, and feeling less powerful and in control. Between this, comparing my body to others’, and being surrounded with eating disorder stories, I’ve been feeling very triggered lately. So, during this holiday season, I’m going to try to focus on why I’m thankful for recovery.