I smiled as my heart swelled with pride. And then, suddenly, without warning, my heart sank as I saw myself reflected in her words.
Her recovery milestone was bittersweet. I felt proud to see her conquer her battles, but my reality immediately slapped me in the face.
I was reading about sustenance on an empty stomach.
I was reading about successful recovery with a wavering desire to heal myself.
I had spent years convincing myself that my maladaptive restricting behavior was perfectly normal, acceptable even. That my disordered thoughts were symbolic of my strength and discipline, rather than a symptom of a mental illness.
In that moment, I discovered that with every movement, I felt lightheaded. I realized I had spent the majority of my day drifting in and out of sleep due to the powerful fatigue accompanying my inadequate nourishment. I listened to the increasingly loud rumbling of my stomach, begging for satiation.
I could no longer deny the truth.
I am a disordered eater.
The perfectionism. The feelings of inadequacy. The desire to self-punish. My lifelong, complicated relationship with my appearance.
In a single moment, my symptoms collided with my reality. It was a perfect mess, the orderly chaos of painful self-awareness.
Through my tears, I resolved to work towards healing. At long last, I acknowledged that I am worthy of nourishment, that I deserve to take up space, that I am disciplined by virtue of my life circumstances alone and that my desire to heal, rather than my disordered eating, is ample proof of my strength. I finally recognized that I am enough.
With my newfound desire to heal indelibly etched on my soul, I ate the meal I had previously attempted to withhold. I could feel my energy slowly returning as the sustenance spread throughout my body. Instead of longing for the gnawing emptiness of hunger, I relished in the sensation of wholeness that consumed me. The idyllic warmth I felt as I sustained myself sparked my desire to heal from my disordered eating, to celebrate the progress and fight through the setbacks — one day, one meal, one bite at a time.