On Monday, I was sitting in my first lecture for the semester for my last year of college. I didn’t know anyone else there – not one other person. No one else in that room besides me knew about my history of my eating disorder, nor did they know I was recovering from one. Perhaps they thought it strange that I sat there at 12pm and whipped out my lunch to eat during the lecture, but I sat there and knew that whipping my lunch out to eat at 12pm was exactly what I needed to do at this stage of my recovery. My lecturer stood up the front and talked for 2 hours about the early church, the fall of Jerusalem, about apostolic fathers and apologists from back in the day. I sat there in wonder at the way my brain was able to retain information (for the first time in years) and noticed my enthusiasm about being there. It was foreign to me.
At some point during the lecture I got a little lost in thought and sat there dwelling on the size of my arms, about how big they may appear to others and about how I perceive them to be. Just before I started to get too carried away with the thoughts though, another thought interjected – no one else here in this room is thinking about the size of my arms, or even cares about the size of them so why am I sitting here doing so?
It was this brief moment of clarity, but kind of a beautiful one and was something I haven’t experienced in a long time. And to be honest, it kind of really freaked the hell out of me.
As the brain ceases being starved and starts being refed, moments like this will happen. They will be brief, and probably not very frequent, at first. You will get glimpses of what life can be like without an eating disorder. You will have more and more moments of freedom and liberation. You will start to realise that there is far too much in your life to lose and that at some stage, you need to stop dancing with the eating disorder. You will see that there are possibilities and opportunities and ways forward – and that you actually have the strength to take these and make real change, despite the difficulty and distress and the tears and the thoughts that come up. I believe this.
The possibility of a future is a frightening one, but so is the prospect of living this way for the rest of my life. My prayer for you (and for me!) is that we can be brave enough to take all these small moments of clarity and carry them with us, remind ourselves of these truths daily and continue to work towards overcoming this hell of an illness that has taken way too much from you.