Work in progress

I recently read an article from Joni Edelman over at Ravishly that reminded me of two things. One: cake that is layered with buttercream really is the best. And two: recovery is not linear. Whether it’s from an eating disorder, or the diet mentality, or the emotional abuse you put yourself through trying to live up to some ridiculous standard of beauty in a world that has no idea what it actually wants. It’s never a direct process.

It is uncomfortable and scary and sometimes makes you wonder if it’s worth it. I’ve thought about this a lot, especially in the last year when I’ve really forced myself to ask the tough questions. Because sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it. Sometimes it seems like it would be a lot easier to go back to the disordered thoughts and behaviors. For the longest time, that was the default. And it was constantly reinforced by the world around me – advertisements, media, conversations held and conversations simply overheard – the general consensus is that thinner is better. Less is more. Restriction is a virtue. Food is good or bad, and as a result so are you.

Sometimes recovery sucks.

It’s not as if those thoughts simply disappear, or that the conversations are no longer heard, or that the images cease to exist.

We fight through them. We work around them. We are are own source of positive reinforcement, and it can be exhausting.

For a long time, I was tired. I was so tired of thinking about it, fighting for it, believing in it. And so I had to take a step back. Not from recovery itself, but from immersing myself in it. I had to back away and not think so much about what I thought it “should” look like. I had to give myself the space to screw it up, to struggle with it, to hate it. I had to toss my hands up and say “I give up.” Not to recovery, but to the expectation around it.

It’s still hard, even though I don’t miss the way I used to feel. I still grieve it, not because I liked the behaviors and the beliefs but because for so long they made up my worth. Trying to separate myself from that often felt like a loss. I realize that there was more to gain because of it – including weight – and that’s not easy to process either.

Some days I feel like I’m starting over, but I quickly remind myself how far I’ve come. Far enough, finally, that I don’t want to go back. There are finally, amazingly, more days that I’m at peace with myself than not. But it’s a work in progress. It always will be. I’m finally learning to be okay with that, and with me.

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