From Write-off to Recovered: The other side of an eating disorder
This is for every woman who has ever woken up and stepped on a scale.
This is for every woman who has counted a calorie.
Who has said ‘yes’ to the salad when she wanted the pasta.
Who has sweated in the gym because she wanted to change her body.
Who has looked in the mirror and wished she saw something different.
This is for every woman.
For over half my life I battled what is called a ‘functional eating disorder’. I had a job, friends, went on holidays and was a normal weight.
No one knew that every morning I woke up, I was calculating what I would eat.
No one knew that I exercised not out of love, but out of fear.
No one knew that grocery stores terrified me, social events caused anxiety and that my ‘perfect body’ was the direct result of under-eating and over-exercising.
Eventually, my functional eating disorder took a sharp turn into a full-blown illness. I became too sick to work; isolated from my friends and sank into a deep depression. An eating disorder specialist told me that I was chronic and should expect this to be the pattern of my adult years.
I decided then, that I wanted to do more with my life than just exist.
I searched for treatment options worldwide and found a place in America that believed in full recovery. I flew from New Zealand to California, with hope in my heart.
After 7 months in America I had tasted the beginnings of freedom. When leaving the eating disorder program, there was a ritual of writing an ‘eaters agreement’ which detailed what I – as an eater – agreed to.
These are the words that came from the part of me that had glimpsed the other side.
Before coming to treatment, I believed the true expression of freedom was having the ability to choose my destiny. What I didn’t realize, was that my eating disorder was choosing. It chose exercise camouflaged as a career. It chose avoidance masked as travel and it chose isolation disguised as independence. Eventually the choices became chains, the pursuit of freedom my prison.
I came to treatment convinced I had the eating disorder that couldn’t be cured. I came to treatment convinced I didn’t have an eating disorder. I came doubtful, egotistical, scared, and hopeful, but I came.
I want it to be known that my eating disorder is a lie. It is an illusionary world I created fourteen years ago. A competition I invited the world to, and found I was the only one in the race. It is a contest that has no winners with the only prize being temporary satisfaction. The cost to enter is happiness, connection and freedom. The aim of this competition is to win, with the only certainty being that inevitably I will lose. It is of an endless duration and is a game that is deadly yet the only way to succeed is to die.
So I choose death. Because if I desire to live more fully, I must shed the parts of me that hold me back. I used to think surrendering to my body was giving up, I now know it is letting go, with the only purpose being to make room for something new. And so, may my old beliefs rest in peace and instead, surrender to the truth.
I surrender to the fact that my body’s set point is not a choice.
I surrender to hunger.
I surrender to imperfection.
I choose to live by choice, not by chains. To make changes, not excuses. To be freeful, not fearful. To excel, not compete. I choose to listen to my healthy inner voice and not the random opinion of others.
I agree for the first time to fill both my cupboards and fridge with food. I agree to have a fridge.
I agree to cook for myself.
I agree to eat salad dressing, butter and ice-cream. Especially ice-cream.
I agree to create a life for myself that matters more than my weight.
I am announcing a new pursuit. It is a quest to sit among the admirable souls who have both the drive and surrender to commit to the path of being comfortable in their own skin. The rules are simple. To accept the truth: That I am more than my body. The number of participants will be one. The prize is happiness, connection and freedom. The criterion to succeed is the ability to surrender. The cost to enter is my ego, beliefs and behaviors. The aim is to win. The only certainty is that if I follow the truth I will succeed. I will continue on this path for as long as my heart beats.
I have learned during my time here that in life, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.
As is recovery.
I agree to have the courage to be wrong about my illusions.
I agree that I fully deserve every bit of happiness I have, because I chose this state of mind. I also deserve every bit of sadness I had, because I chose that too.
I agree that if I’m going through hell, to keep going. And that if I’m dancing, to keep dancing.
I agree that in order to live fully, I must first be full.
Finally, I agree that I am who I choose to be. I can’t wait for someone to come and save me. I have to save myself. People will have gifts to offer, but I need reach out and take them. I am the only one that truly knows the longing of my soul, and nobody will have more regret than I will if I don’t reach for it.
And so I agree to full recovery, which is the true expression of freedom.
Today, I don’t have a ‘functional life’. I have a LIFE.
I have made peace with my body, I have freedom with food. My heart dances with lightness – not of my body, but of my soul.
I invite you into this journey, the first courageous step into the fire of the unknown.
Recovering (and therefore celebrating) myself was the scariest, hardest, bravest thing I have ever done. It is also the thing I am proudest of.
Come, will you join me and celebrate yourself?
Will you be scared but brave?
What will you agree to, for your greatest self-expression in this life?
Kristie is the founder of Recovered Living, an online Coaching service that helps people recover from an eating disorder.
She is especially passionate about the term ‘recovered’. Having found complete peace and freedom from her eating disorder, she is fully committed to helping others do the same.
Check out www.recoveredliving.com for more information.