1. a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
2. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
Walking down Madison Avenue, the heat of the sun reddening my cheeks, I will myself away from the usual safe havens: Whole Foods, Dough, Doughnut Plant, Levain Bakery, Sixteen Handles.
“Walk on.” I whisper, staring down a large cannoli in the bakery window. “We can do this.”
Temptation on every corner.
“Oh! A cookie sounds really good right about now.”
“…Doughnut Plant is just 3 blocks away…”
A new arsenal of flavors and tastes on every block.
It’s hard to not be compulsive in such a compulsive city.
I don’t remember the first time I binged or told myself I couldn’t have dinner because I wasn’t going to the gym. I remember digging through my mother’s clothes chest to find the box of Entenmann’s Original Recipe chocolate chip cookies. I remember telling my parents I would never eat again as I stormed away to my room because they had made me feel insecure about my body. I remember writing really mean notes to myself as “motivation.”
Here, I was my own worst enemy.
I was in college when I started to see my disordered eating for what it really was– self-hatred. It was my lack of confidence, insecurities, and perfectionism looking for an outlet. It was me trying to destroy myself. But why? Where did I learn to hate who I was, to hate my body, to hate my hair, and my thoughts and the sound of my voice? Something needed to change.
For nearly a year and a half, I have been learning what it means to fight my own demons. When do I know I’ve recovered? How long do I have to be in recovery for? What does recovery from an Eating Disorder even mean? Do I recover once and never worry about it again? Am I still in recovery if I relapse? How many times can I relapse before I’m no longer considered “in recovery?” Can I even say I am recovering when people might think I am lying simply because I look like a healthy average sized female? Recovery in all its forms is hard. But I can tell you this:
I live recovery.
Every day. Not every day is perfect. Some days I eat a little bit too much food, and it sucks because I spend the rest of the night clutching my stomach in pain and other days I feel confident enough to go for a run and eat really delicious homemade meals. It is all part of the process. And I am learning more and more about myself. I am learning I can leave the cookie if I don’t like or want it. I am learning it is okay to feel uncomfortable in my body when I gain weight. It is not okay to wallow in my discomfort. A small step is still a big step, and if it doesn’t feel right to you listen.
In the past year and a half I have probably gone to the gym a total of 10 times (if that). It sounds silly because HELLO I blog about working out and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. I hit a rough patch. I started to question who I was and who I wanted to be when my aunt died. I regretted not taking the time to get to know her when she moved back to New York. So I ate my feelings. I allowed myself to snowball. I ate without care, without regrets, without qualms. I didn’t hit the gym. I gained 35 pounds. And finally, the day came when I was ready and interested to learn what worked best for my mind, body and soul.
So on days like last Tuesday I’ll enjoy 2 donuts simply because I can and because I want to and because it makes my soul really happy– that’s recovery. And on 70 degree days I will skip the gym and go for a long walk around the city instead because it’s what I need in that moment– that’s recovery too. Or when J and I venture out into Brooklyn to do legs– that’s recovery. Recovery is learning to work through your demons as well as learning self-care and learning to choose what is in your best interest.