Just 3 years ago, if someone would have asked me how I imagined my life being today, I can’t say I would have given the most optimistic answer.
After all I was just starting out on the road to recovery at that point and you know how it can be at the start. Everything is so intimidating, scary and emotionally overwhelming. Back then I simply had no idea of the extent to which recovering from bulimia could change a person’s life. But make no mistakes; recovery really can change everything (if you let it)
Earlier this month I celebrated my 3 year “recovery anniversary” and I'm delighted to report that I am happier, healthier and more in love with life than ever before!
I remember waking up the morning of my 3 year recovery anniversary and thinking, “Wow. So this is what it feels like to be 3 years recovered!”
So what does it feel like I hear you asking? I want to immediately answer with the words “amazing, liberating, empowering and exciting” but I suppose I should elaborate a little more.
Being around lots of food and knowing I’ll only eat until I am comfortably full (no matter how delicious that food may be, or how many food-pushers I may come up against) continues to be the most empowering feeling I experience. Buffets and big family meals used to terrify me but now I delight in them. I’ve become “one of those people” who can eat whatever they want whenever they want it which is something I NEVER felt would be possible.
A close second on “the most empowering feelings” scale has to be the sense of joy and calmness I now feel whenever I look in the mirror. Every dreg of self-hatred is gone, now replaced with compassion, understanding and love.
I was once told I would always have some body-image issues, that it is “normal” to dislike parts of yourself or to have “fat days.” But 3 years in I have discovered that this is just not true. Recovery lead me to a higher state of well-being - a place where “fat days” and body hatred had no longer exist. So I have to challenge the collective acceptance that self-hatred is a normal part of life.
As many of you know I do consider myself to be fully recovered and this is not a term I use lightly, but knowing I will never fall victim to bulimia again makes me feel so empowered. There is no place in my life for bulimia anymore, I am different now, I make different choices and I have different priorities. I take pride in caring for myself, I no longer feel the need to numb painful emotions, I enjoy food, I’m happy at my set point weight and I relish in the freedom of never having to think of dieting or weight loss. (You can read more on views and experiences of full recovery here).
It means that I’ve learned how to accept the good with the bad. It means that more than ever I understand that good things can come from seemingly terrible situations. Yes I’m recovered, I no longer have triggers or urges to binge, purge or restrict. I’m no longer desperately anxious or depressed but I am still human.
I still feel vulnerable, weak and upset at times. Sometimes I worry if I’m making the right decisions, I second guess myself and have major dips in confidence. When facing hard times I can still feel emotionally exhausted and stressed to the max, but my reactions to those feelings are different now. I accept them and embrace them as part of life.
There is no longer an urgent need to numb feelings and emotions like this, instead there is simply the reminder that I need to take extra care of myself during those times by asking for help or taking some time to relax and unwind.
Like I said before, recovery really can change everything (if you let it).
No matter what stage of recovery you’re at right now, what I hope you can take from this is hope for the future and an understanding that eventually recovery can bring you to a life that you never even dreamed would be possible. A life where you are truly free from the ties of bulimia.
We all recover differently and your story may well end up being vastly different to mine but there will be one thing that we will both have in common in the end - We’ll both know without any shadow of a doubt that recovery was worth it.
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