5am Monday morning. My favorite candle is burning, my coffee is warm, and I have finally found some time to reflect on the past week. And I suppose if you’re reading this, it is safe to assume that you know that we just finished up yet another Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Another week of endless purple ribbons, inspirational quotes, and people sharing their stories of how eating disorders have impacted their lives in one way or another. If you have scrolled through any social media platform over the past 7 days, I’d dare to say you’ve seen at least one person courageously share their story. Dedicating an entire week to bringing light to these insidious disorders not only increases awareness and knowledge, but ultimately creates a safe space in which others feel empowered enough to share.
I first shared my story publicly nearly 3 years ago. It was in that story (link below) I made a promise.
And so, I am here to uphold that promise.
“The world needs you and there is a life beyond your eating disorder.”
Those are the words I not only wrote, but also have lived by, leaned on, and have made my life’s mission without even realizing it. The genesis of my eating disorder and the story that narrates it has not changed. Nor has that promise. But I, and my relationship with my eating disorder, most certainly have.
I used to view my eating disorder as something I had slain and rid myself of. The toxic relationship I had left. The itch that I was no longer willing to scratch. And yes, those all still hold true. But as I have grown both personally and professionally, I have come to realize that it was less about slaying the dragon and more so about learning it’s ways. Understanding the intricacies of how my disorder worked has been fundamental in maintaining my recovery for as long as I have.
Over the past 3 years I have been faced with seemingly unbearable stress that could have easily sent me back into a full-on relapse. But I held onto that promise. I put in the effort to learn how to get ahead of my disorder and beat it before it had a chance to lure me back in. This has been nearly 36 months of trial and error. I’ve made mistakes and I’ll continue to make mistakes. But that’s how I’ve learned. I’ve taken stock of my triggers and can recognize an urge to act on behaviors as just that, an urge. Not as a directive on how to behave, but rather an indication that I needed to speak up and ask for more support.
So long story short, that is how I have kept my promise. The promise to myself that the world needs me. The promise that I was worth all of this hard work and that there is so much life on the other side of an eating disorder.