Don't wait to recover
For this week's post I wanted to write about guilt and had planned to discuss this in the context of eating, however on reflection I have a lot more to say. First things first, I want to state that if the guilt you’re experiencing is the consequence of facing a meal or snack, then whilst it is incredibly unpleasant, it means you’re winning. This is because whilst we are working towards being able to eat unrestricted and free, the case in recovery is that every time you experience discomfort from facing a challenge, it’s just the ED that’s screaming at you, and that’s because you’re weakening it. Therefore, we can manage the guilt through the likes of distractions, but can also celebrate it as each time we experience it we are getting one step closer to recovery.
Now that’s said, what I want to talk about is the guilt we can often feel for the way our ED’s have caused us to behave. Here I’m talking about the way they made us treat people, how selfish we were and how we lashed out at those only trying to help. I’m referring to the liars they turned us into, and the upset and stress they caused our loved ones. I recently admitted to myself and my therapist that when I first began treatment I was still actively working in the opposite direction from recovery, as my ED told me I was not sick enough to receive help and needed to lose more weight in order to validate my illness and warrant getting better. This is a hard truth to face as I feel bad for taking up space in treatment when I had no real intention of benefiting from it, and I feel bad for pretending this was not the case and for prolonging the suffering of those who care for me. The reason I’m sharing this publicly despite the shame I feel is because despite having been putting my all into recovery for the last few months, the guilt that this has caused me has been a massive push and motivated me even more.
Last year when I first “attempted recovery”, I held the belief that I hadn’t been ill for long enough or experienced enough of the effects of my eating disorder, and so thought recovery would be “too easy”. I am embarrassed to admit this now, as I realise how stupid it sounds - because why wouldn’t I want to be able to heal my body and relationship with food as quickly as possible?
I’m now working to manage the guilt I feel for this, and one way I’m doing so is by ensuring I don’t let the ED influence any more of my decisions going forward. I am living with the consequences of this disordered choice now, and spoiler alert, recovery is really hard and I now want nothing more than to be free of my illness. It is painful to realise how different my life could be right now if I had made the choice to recover sooner and painful to think how I damaged my relationships and how much I stood to lose, but I am so grateful that I am here today, choosing recovery and surrounded by the best support system I could wish for.
The point of this post is to explain to you that through assessing my different sources of guilt and establishing my priorities and true values it has reinforced for me the need to keep pushing. I guess what I’m trying to say is that having this understanding helps me better manage the guilt I feel from eating as I can recognise it’s comparative insignificance. For example, whilst it might be scary and I may feel uncomfortable both physically and mentally in my body afterwards, I can now go out for dinner and enjoy myself instead of focusing all my attention on finding the lowest calorie option. I can have fun and dance and play around without firstly, being on the verge of passing out the whole time, and secondly without trying to work out if it counts as exercise and if I’m “burning my food off”. I am also able to be way more present, to truly engage in conversations, to focus and have way more space in my head to better deal with the other stresses life throws at me. This is worth so much more to me than being a certain size or maintaining my anorexic identity.
Often I look to quick snappy mantras to help me through tough moments in recovery, but I think it is essential at least for me to also have these bigger motivations.
I hope this post has inspired a few of you to think about what you truly value and prioritise in life. Too often we let the ED voice dictate this, and so here’s your reminder to check in with the real you, and honour your beliefs.
More from me soon,
Mais// The Recovery Bean <3