It is soon approaching Eating Disorders Awareness Week (20th-26th February 2012.) And it was suggested by a fantastically inspirational Blogger and You-Tuber; Rachel who's Blog Lost in Translation can be found here (I highly recommend you check her out!), that I write a bit about my reasons for recovery, what it looks like to me and why it is worth it.
To be honest I find this topic quite difficult to write about, because, beneath the obvious (and equally important) surface reasons for recovery such as improved health, emotional stability, a meaningful life and mended relationships there is a unfathomable search for who I am, my genuine self, which until found, will always compel my ED to rear its none to pretty head again. This is what my recovery looks like to me. It is the arduous search for, and discovery of a true identify not associated with my eating disorder and a conclusion which sits happily within my heart.
I am still most defiantly searching, and for this reason I do not consider myself recovered, even though I am ‘Clinically’ recovered from the criteria which bind me to a diagnosis. I am still scaling the walls of the dark well of my eating disorder, but I now have a torch, a pick and a rope and am clawing my way out, slowly.
I am quite enjoying finding out whom I am all over again. It’s great to have the opportunity, a wonderful mental health team, (some) support from my family, the head space and physical health to fully apply myself to this life-changing task. It is a full time job, and much like Gretchen Rubin, who spent a year exploring what her life meant to her and what makes her happy through her ‘Happiness Project’ blog (Another MUST READ!) I am allowing myself the time this year, and possibly even next year to find what makes my life worth living, what will get me out of bed each morning, what makes me happy.
I have been told that every fragment of your personality, your "self," serves to create the whole of your genuine self, therefore I do not ever want to forget my illness or the profound effect it has had on me, so, for me recovery is not about leaving ED behind and closing the cover on that part of my life. Instead, by acknowledging it and RADICALLY ACCEPTING that it has been part of me, that it happened, and that it was, at one stage the only way I knew how to cope, I can find solace and strength to search for a better way to cope with the emotions which fuelled it.
The genuine self is going to look and feel different for every single person, but the one thing that all will have in common is that the genuine self is the recovered self. By creating and accepting the genuine self, we become functional, healthy adults capable of facing life’s hurdles.
Your genuine self will be unique to you. You may share similarities with some folks and be extremely dissimilar to other folks, and yet both groups of people can be your friends. When I have solidified my genuine self, I hope be able to recognize that everyone else around me also has a genuine self. People need not share the same thoughts, beliefs or opinions on any subject, let alone all of them. By embracing my own genuine self, I’ll suddenly be free to embrace the genuine selves of those around me because they will no longer represent a lot of work – I will no longer need to change them or convert them to your my of thinking. I’ll be content to allow them to be exactly who they are while I continue being exactly who I am. And if, or should I say when, I encounter someone who wants me to change, I’ll weigh their request against my genuine self and be able to determine whether or not that aspect of me is open to change or not. Sometimes these scenarios might mean that a particular person will chose to avoid me because of my refusal to bend to their wishes, and my genuine self will be okay with that. I’ll know that their boundary was unhealthy and that it’s probably best to end the association with that person.
The genuine self, for me at least, is really a remarkable sense of inner peace and tranquility. It doesn’t mean that I’ll have earned a pass into Nirvana or Utopia. Nor does it mean that my life will be a constant state of "smooth sailing." There will still be upheavals, fights, moments of extremes – that’s part of life and it cannot be changed. With the solidity and security of my genuine self, though, I will be able to weather those ups and downs with the calm and peaceful understanding that, no matter what, I will conduct myself in accordance with the beliefs of my genuine self.
This is what my recovery looks like to me, and remember, your picture will be different and unique and life-changing and most of all, deeply personal to YOU.