Everyone told me recovery was worth it, that it would bring me happiness and a new curvy body, that it would make me the carefree girl I used to be. They told me I’d be able to laugh again, that I’d be able to run and dance and eventually have kids, that I’d be able to post an inspirational #transformationtuesday picture on my Instagram.
They told me recovery would save my life.
And they were right, it did.
But what they didn’t tell me, what no one told me, was that I would miss my eating disorder.
Not just miss it but grieve it, long for it, wish for it back every time the clock said 11:11. There were more days than I like to admit where I spent all of my energy, all of my time looking at old pictures of myself and wanting to have that starved body again.
On the good days, it was the best. It was like being wrapped in a warm blanket fresh from the dryer on a rainy day. It was like a hug from your mom or a good morning kiss from your boyfriend. It was everything that made you feel happy and loved, it was the voice whispering sweetly “everything is going to be okay”.
But on the bad days, it was the worst. It was like living every day one step away from death, like screaming out for help and no one can hear you. It was believing you were worthless, believing you were disgusting and fat despite the bruises on your protruding bones from sitting in a chair. It was like the crash after a cocaine high.
I knew recovery wouldn’t be easy. I knew enough to be prepared for the relapses, for the urges to restrict, for the endless doctors and tests.
I was prepared for all of that. I just wasn’t prepared to feel like I was going through a breakup.
I wasn’t prepared to miss the one thing that was slowly killing me.
Isn’t that messed up? Isn’t that so sick and twisted? Isn’t it horrible to want to see ribs when you look in the mirror, to want to feel the familiar ache of hunger, to want to be empty?
I tried to explain it to my mom once. I tried to tell her how my anorexia was like a familiar face. How the sharp edge of my hip bone and the brain fog and the dizziness were miserable but comfortable all at once. How even though I knew I was dying, it was almost easier than living.
She looked at me like I was crazy.
But in the case of eating disorder recovery, crazy is normal. Crazy is okay. You have to accept the crazy, to feel it, to sit with it as my therapist loves to say, to acknowledge it. You have to know that every other person going through recovery understands you. You aren’t alone. You aren’t the only “crazy” one.
Because when you let go of your anorexia, you’re letting go of your identity, you’re letting go of who you thought you were, you’re letting go of what defined you.
And in letting go, in coming clean, you’re going to miss what used to bring you peace. You’re going to miss what kept you together when everything else was falling apart. You’re going to miss the high of starving in the same way a recovering alcoholic misses the numb of the bottle.
It will happen. You will be sad for the girl you used to be. But in those moments, you have to remember that she was just a hollow shell, a house not a home. She may be gone but you’re still here. You’re still alive. You’re still you.
Miss her but not so much that you become her again. Life moves on. Move on with it.