I debated for over a month whether or not to post this. But I committed to vulnerability when beginning this endeavor, and this is how I honestly felt at this time. I don’t want to hide my beliefs in shame simply because it may not jive with my readers, or may put me in a bad light in the face of my recovery fam. So please remember, this is my experience. This is MY recovery. And this is ultimate vulnerability.
The truth is, this world is not tolerant. It’s bias. There is thin privilege. Clear skin privilege. Beautiful privilege. In recovery, they tell you that all bodies are good bodies. And while that may be true, not all bodies are accepted bodies. Not all bodies are privileged bodies. Though many of us work hard to change that, and that is important, valid work, the reality is we live in a world that doesn’t think in a recovery minded way.
I feel like there needs to be some bridge between embracing your body and embracing the societal constraints of our world. Because embracing one and denying the other is a dichotomy that is impossible to swallow. When you are trying to tell yourself your body is good when the world is constantly telling you it’s bad, how can you truly accept it? How can you, a being spending all their time and energy trying to get better, be expected to fight the world tooth and nail, day in and day out? It’s not fair, and it’s not realistic. It makes us want to give up and go back to our behaviors just to cope with the fight.
I don’t think it should have to be a fight. And I think the ED recovery world is doing us a disservice by making it one.
Fighting our EDs is enough. We can’t take on the world too.
It’s important to accept the world we live in, even if we want to fight to change it. Acceptance of reality is the only way we CAN change it, as without recognizing how the world currently is you can’t know how and in what ways you want it to change.
The reality is, I don’t want to fight the world. I want to thrive in it. That is what I deserve, I deserve peace, I deserve life, I deserve everything my ED took from me for so long. I don’t need to feel bad about my body, because it is in essence a good body. But I can recognize there are ways I want to fit with the world no matter how unfair it can be. I can recognize that my health (and mental health) is more important than meeting the standards of my team or the accepted view of doing recovery right. I can recognize the my recovery can withstand the constraints of the world I live in.
So I am on accutane. My skin is dry and flaking. My lips crack in 8 places. My nose is drier than the Sahara. It’s given me depression and anxiety. And it’s totally worth it. Why? Because acne is painful and overwhelming and damaging. It ruins your self esteem and breaks your resiliency. It reminds you it’s there everyday by aching in it painful, deep spots. It keeps you from wanting to leave the house of show your face, let alone hold your head up high.
So I am on accutane. Because all the side effects in the world are worth clear skin. Because with clear skin come privilege, and life is easier in a privileged world.
I get false lashes and hair extensions, I wear makeup and heels, because conforming to traditional and accepted standards of beauty gives me privilege. And life is easier in a privileged world.
And most significantly, I am working to lose weight. Not because of thin privilege, but because my doctors say I need to and I agree with them. Because my body hurts, and my asthma is worse, and my joints creak. Because I hurt every day and my cholesterol is high and I feel unhealthy. But with that will come thin privilege. And my life will be easier because of it.
I didn’t make these rules. But I do live with in their construct. And sometimes you have to play by the rules to get by.
But also, sometimes you have to break the rules to thrive. I’m breaking the rules of recovery, and I am doing so because I need to. For my health. For my wellbeing. I don’t agree that once we go into recovery, all the rules are null and void. That we can eat whatever we want and our bodies can be in whatever state and it won’t effect us negatively because we are loving ourselves. Because we are giving our body what it needs. I don’t believe I can eat sugar everyday, and gorge myself on carbs, and be healthy. Because when I do, I don’t feel healthy. I feel bad. And that’s not allowed in recovery. You’re not allowed to pick and choose what’s best for you if that means excluding foods or losing weight. And I don’t agree with that.
I think our dieticians are doing is wrong. I think it’s wrong to allow us to become obese because we are looking for our set point. To encourage us to eat increasingly unhealthily because they are too afraid to say anything that would trigger the ED. And most importantly, to act like ED is forever and that we constantly have to watch for it, even when we are past it and doing well.
I believe Ed is a mental disorder, not a physical one. And I believe it can be recovered from. I believe we are more than our EDs, that it doesn’t stain us forever but that we can wash ourselves clean of it. I don’t hear its voice anymore in my head. I don’t feel it’s pressure. And I think THAT is recovery. It has nothing to do with my body. It has to do with how I see my body. And I see my body as good. And I want it to be healthy. And so I’m gonna do what I need to to give it what it deserves.
I don’t believe in one size fits all recovery. I don’t believe in hiding our weight from ourselves for fear of triggering. I don’t believe in living in fear of my ED for the rest of my life. I believe in empowering myself and realizing that no matter what happens, I can come back. That I am in control, not my ED. That I am supported and confident and capable. I believe in full recovery. And I believe in health. And I believe that neither of those can happen if you are fighting the world everyday. I want to be a part of the world. Not an outsider fighting it. I’ve been an outsider all my life. I’m ready to belong.