Image taken from JenVenegas.com
I think that one of the very challenging things about eating disorder recovery are all the thoughts that come with the behavior. Most often in EDs, the thoughts come first, ie: “I’m not pretty enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not special enough, I’m not thin enough…” and dieting seems like a solution to these problems. Dieting of course then leads to bingeing leads to starving leads to bingeing leads to purging leads to full blown ED.
But it gets better. I don’t want to tell you that as soon as you stop dieting and begin to embrace what your body needs that you’ll begin to love your body and have an amazing relationship with it and feel beautiful and wonderful all the time. That’s magical thinking. The problems that resulted in dieting will still be there when you stop dieting, just as the problems that you thought would be solved by dieting were still there despite the fact that you were dieting. American society will still tell you that “thin is in,” and that this very last diet will solve all your problems. Super models will still be tiny. None of that will change. And it will probably still be difficult in certain ways. But that’s when you begin dealing with the feelings that lead to the eating disorder. That’s when you begin dealing with insecurity, that’s when you begin learning to tolerate your body size, that’s when you begin leaning on your internal and external resources for support rather than food or diets.
And, after you’ve stopped bingeing/purging/dieting/starving/spitting & chewing/overexercising… whatever, even on the days that you feel horrible about yourself, even on the days that you feel bloated, or too large, or your clothes don’t fit, or someone rejected you, or you had a bad day at work or school, you won’t go back to your eating disorder because you will remember how much worse it felt to be using these behaviors to chase away these feelings. You’ll remember how horrible the eating disorder was. And you’ll get support for your feelings in different ways. You’ll talk to friends that you love and who love you. You’ll do something to take care of yourself. You’ll understand that just because you are feeling badly, you don’t need to find a solution because the problem is internal. It needs love and support and kindness. Not another diet.
Yes, it will still hurt. Society will still give you messages. You will still feel unhappy sometimes. It’s hard to believe right now, but there is relief on the other side. The eating disorder just won’t bring it.