I will be the first to say that recovery is no easy task. It’s been more than 5 years since I started recovering and even now there are still slip ups and questions I face probably daily. Choosing recovery is hard, and yes that might sound dramatic to people who have never suffered from an eating disorder. But there is comfort and a sense of control for many who suffer from disordered eating, it feels safe and for many becomes natural, disordered behaviour becomes instinctual. It can be hard to justify recovering when life without a disorder comes with so much chaos when all someone wants is control. I identify myself as a ‘soul’ person. To me some people could be ‘heart’ people, ‘magic’ people, or ‘mind’ people, I am a soul person. I think about things in terms of what they do for my soul. And this is something that my disorder never gave me, was anything that grew or fed my soul.
Anyway, this long intro is moving into this: things that I could never do if I was still living with my disorder, road-trip edition. Below is a list of things that I got to enjoy this past weekend, things I never really could have enjoyed if I wasn’t in recovery.
1. Sing Obnoxiously
If you are not wheezing and out of breath after singing your favourite song then to be honest I don’t think you were really singing it. Anyone who has had to drive with my knows that I cannot drive when my favourite songs play because I need to close my eyes in order to properly interpretive dance as the song so deserves. In my eating disorder so many stupid things caused me to be out of breath, so many movements caused me pain. I would never have been able to scream ‘Nah!’ by Shania Twain in the car the way it was truly intended if I wasn’t in recovery.
Ok I don’t think we were actually trespassing, but we made a stop on our road trip to a ghost town that my friend had looked up on the internet before we left. As a ‘soul’ person I am a huge fan of wide open fields, big trees, and running water. We stopped on the side of the road near a bridge on this side-road and I got to run and climb and spin and fall in this expanse of area that seemed to have been untouched for many years. I got to feel the cold air in my lungs and smile when I reached the top of the tree. I never would have been able to run like that if I wasn’t in recovery.
3. Car Rides
During the time I was sick I went on a trip to Italy with my school. I have a pretty bad memory to begin with, but one of the only things I remember clearly about that trip was how much sitting on the bus seats and airplane seats hurt because of the way my shoulders and spine stuck out. You can never really be comfortable, no matter how many layers you wear or pillows you stick behind you. I never would have been able to fall asleep in the car with a smile on my face from being so tired and happy if I wasn’t in recovery.
4. See friends
Even this long into recovery seeing people I have not seen for a while is still something I struggle with. I get nervous they are comparing my current body to my previous one, I get nervous they are judging the way I look now, or the way I carry myself. I realize that no one is paying as much attention to me as I am, but these thoughts exist nonetheless. But I got to get in touch with one of my best friends I had not seen in months and catch up with her, see her city, and enjoy her company genuinely, without these thoughts invading every conversation or movement. I never would have been able to maintain genuine relationships if I wasn’t in recovery.
I absolutely love learning, and it has become so much more enjoyable since I stopped trying to memorize the calorie content of foods or calculate what my next goal weight is. Genuine learning and genuine knowledge offers so much, and my brain is so much more than just a calorie calculator. I never would have gotten to take a tour of parliament and spend more time thinking about what the tour guide was saying rather than how many steps I was taking if I wasn’t in recovery.
6. Midnight Driving
If you weren’t driving down a highway at 2am were you really even road-tripping at all? In my disorder, being alone with my thoughts was one of my favourite things because it was such a destructive thing. My thoughts involved how I could fit more exercise into my day without anyone noticing or what method of self-harm could I use that would give me the feeling I wanted. Instead I got to think about how pretty the moon is, how I’ve found spaces on this earth that I belong in (and even appreciation for those that I don’t fit in but admire), I got to think about my relationships with people and how I can focus on strengthening them, I got to think about what kind of dog I want when I get older. I never would have been able to think about anything except myself if I wasn’t in recovery.
7. Take Important Pictures
Unflattering photos are often times the best ones. It’s hard to embrace images of ourselves that show things that we don’t want others to see, the things we don’t like about ourselves and hope that no one will notice them. Of course aesthetically pleasing photos are important (I have an instagram vibe to maintain obviously), but the silly photos where you have 4 chins and imperfect skin are some of the most beautiful. I never would have been comfortable with photos like that if I wasn’t in recovery.
Long story short: you are worthy of living a life that excites you and scares you and makes you believe in things, whether that is a higher force, other people, or yourself. You are not going to find that in your sickness, I can promise you that.