Hello Recovery Spark Readers! My name is Ali. It is an honor to write a guest blog post for this amazing website. I am a wife, mother and eating disorder survivor. You can find me over at Road to Recovered (www.roadtorecovered.com) where I blog about my recovery from a decades long eating disorder.
2015 started out like every other year. I was tired. Tired of hating myself and what I looked like. Tired of dealing with my eating disorder. Tired of feeling like a lazy mom, a lazy wife, a lazy friend and all round lazy person. I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t worthy of connection and belonging. I was tired of feeling uninspired and constantly searching for distraction. I was tired of feeling afraid. Afraid to risk, to fail, to be judged, to be laughed at, afraid to even try. Most of all, I was tired of feeling like a spectator in my own life.
So on January 1, 2015, I implemented the same resolution I’d had for the last three decades (and many times in between), to change. Because I believed change only mattered if it could be seen and measured, I came up with a multi-faceted plan to lose weight. Despite decades of dieting fails, I convinced myself that this time it would work. And once I finally lost the weight all my negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors would simply melt away.
And just like every other year, it didn’t work. By February 19, I was so miserable and unhappy I could hardly stand it. I couldn’t lose weight and if I did, I’d immediately put it back on. The scale continued to be my punisher. I felt like a failure and hated myself. All I wanted to do was stuff my face and get drunk on food. I knew that after I got drunk on food and purged, I would feel numb. After the numbness, the shame would set in. Why did I keep sabotaging myself? As soon as I lose a little bit of weight and start feeling okay, I’d freak out and sabotage myself and all of my efforts. Why didn’t I get to like myself? I wanted to be better than this. I so so so very much wanted to be better than this….
If that seems rather specific, it is. I copied and pasted most of the above paragraph from my February 19, 2015 journal entry (I adjusted the language to past tense). It wasn’t the first time I had felt that way but it was one of the first times I had ever written it down. I wrote it down because of the other resolution I made last year, the one that that stuck, to write every day for two hours. I even put a daily reminder on my phone (it still pops up at 9 am every morning.)
For the first time in thirty-nine years, I made a resolution that had nothing to do with losing weight. I’d always thought that I had to lose weight to become the woman I wanted to be, it never occurred to me that writing could help me transform into the woman I wanted to be.
I always loved writing but never thought I was good enough to do it. I had so many thoughts and ideas, but never the confidence to write them down. I was also paralyzingly terrified to confront the woman inside my head. Which I feared would happen if I started writing. I figured if I lost the weight first, then I could avoid confronting her because she would just disappear with the weight.
Despite my fear, on January 1st I started writing. In the beginning I didn’t write everyday nor did I write for two full hours. But I wrote. Little by little. Most days I had to remind myself that writing something was better than writing nothing (even though sometimes I wrote nothing). I often tried to write fictional stories and screenplays to avoid the woman inside, but everything kept coming back to her.
By February 19, it was clear that I could no longer ignore the woman inside my head and the mountain of negative thoughts she perpetuated. In March, I started reading Eight Keys to Recovery From an Eating Disorder by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb, and doing the written exercises in each chapter. By April, writing allowed me to face, and start confronting, the woman inside on my own terms. That woman turned out to be my eating disorder (I called her ED Ali). By May, through writing and therapy, I continued confronting ED Ali and her eating disordered thoughts and behaviors, I also started to discover and strengthen the healthy me, the me I always wanted to be. I started feeling feelings I had never allowed myself to feel before. By June, I joined an eating disorder support group and started letting go of ED Ali’s life-long obsession with trying to lose weight. By July, the eating disorder behaviors were gone. By August, I had fully let go of weight-loss as a goal. By September, most of the eating disorder thoughts were gone. By November, I started the blog and realized that the woman inside my head, aka ED Ali, was the real “weight” I’d spent my life trying to lose. By December, she was gone. Today, I am free.
Now, at the beginning of 2016, I am excited. Excited to live and be an active part of my life. Excited because I like who I am. Excited because I am RECOVERED. Excited to be an active parent, wife and friend. Excited because I feel like I belong to my wonderful family and amazing friends. Excited because I feel inspired and connected to a purpose that drives me. I am still afraid, but fear does not stop me. Falling is a part of life and recovery gave me the confidence and the tools to rise. Most of all, I am excited because I am starting the next chapter of my life and, this time, I get to write it.