First off: I want to give a big thank you for 4000 subscribers! I am truly humbled and grateful for the outpouring of love and support in this little community. I appreciate each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. 🙂
Alright, onto tonight’s post.
I’m writing this from my old bedroom in my childhood home. I’m surrounded by bookshelves filled with yearbooks and old photographs, now collecting dust, reminding me of who I once was. Capturing the past and fitting it into a 5X7 frame.
So many memories here.
But for as much reflection as I’ve done about this place, I’ve gotta say, I love being home.
Whenever my family is together, we love watching movies after dinner. Granted, my mom falls asleep half way through every. single. time – (it’s actually quite impressive) – but nonetheless, we’re movie junkies.
So tonight we watched a film that touched me profoundly, as it vividly captured my journey of recovery: Woman in Gold.
GREAT film. 110% recommend it. It’s about Maria, played by Helen Mirren, a Jewish woman who is taking the Austrian government to court, because during WWII, the Nazi’s stole a painting of her aunt during a raid on their house. The painting, a family heirloom which was willed to her, ended up in the Austrian national art museum after the war. They are now refusing to return it to its rightful owner: Maria. It is now worth over $100 million dollars.
She’s seeking restitution.
Restitution:“The restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner. The restoration of something to its original state or former condition.”
Allow me to pick my jaw up off the floor.
I mean, is that not recovery in a nut shell?!
The restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner. The restoration of something to its original state or former condition.
Ok let’s just take this a step further:
Restoration: the act of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition
Restoration is a big word in eating disorder recovery. Let’s just address the elephant in the room: weight restoration is of highest importance when recovering from anorexia. But there’s a lot more to recovery than just that.
And as I was reflecting on the movie, the scene with the definition really stayed with me. Because all I could think about was how it was an allegory of recovery.
There was something that just wasn’t quite right.
Restoring something to its former condition.
Here I am, writing this is my old bedroom, face to face with photos and images of me growing up.
And it couldn’t have been more apparent: I’m not who I used to be.
Who I was, is not who I am today.
Sure, I can be restored to my former weight and be physically back to my “original state,” but I, intrinsically, can never be restored to my former condition –-my former self– pre-anorexia.
Because it changed me.
It strengthened me. It gave me courage. Gave me faith. Made me a warrior.
When (not if) we go through times in life where things are hard, trying, painful, — we are transforming. Growing. Maturing. Learning.
Can we really go back to our former condition after enduring and surviving times of trial? No.
Struggles change you.
But that’s not a bad thing.
Looking at my smiling childhood photos, sure I was a cute kid. I was reminded of all the laughter and silliness. Captured were moments of joy and celebration. Also captured, were photos where I was in my disease, and only I knew the pain behind the smile. But for the good times and hard times, the girl in the photos is no longer me.
And only when I stop trying to recapture that time, can I move forward.
That’s the thing. People think that, in recovery, once the weight is restored, that things just return to normal. That *poof* all of a sudden you’re restored to your former state.
But the fact is, that’s not the case.
Because the new self has a wisdom and strength that only comes from overcoming incredible odds.
The photos I take today, the face I see is that of a survivor. Is that of a young woman who, with the help of Jesus, reclaimed her life and left ED behind.
She is worth being celebrated.
The photos and memories on my bookshelves have become just that: memories. I’m letting go of trying to recapture that girl. Because this girl today has so much ahead of her. So much life to live. So much to love and to be grateful for. And so much more to offer – because she made it through the dark and survived.
The final scene in the movie, Maria returns home for the first time in 50 years, a new woman, having reclaimed not only her artwork, but her past. And she’s walking the halls of her former home, and has one final flashback, no longer painful and in black and white, but color. And this time, the family in the memories are welcoming her back. Beckoning her to join the dance, to sit by the fire, — reenter the past that was filled with so much love and joy, but was lost to her because of the filter of pain with which she saw her history.
And the final image, is of her last conversation with her father before her escape, remembered now for the first time. He says with loving tears in his eyes, “Go. Claim your future. Just promise one thing: to remember us. Remember me with love.”
By the end of the movie, I was bawling. I saw so much of my story in this
And let me just say, I am in no way comparing my battle with anorexia to the Holocaust. That was the epitome of human calamity, and I would never trivialize what those innocent people endured by comparing their experience to an eating disorder.
Looking at those pictures in my room of the happy-go-lucky childhood I was blessed with – I can’t let ED make me blind to those beautiful times. I have to reclaim them. Readopt that little girl and say, this is who I am. This is my past. My home. My family. This is where I come from.
I felt such a connection with Maria in where I am today: returning home, seeing it with new eyes – changed eyes — and having my past welcome me back. Those memories were always there, I was just choosing not to see them. But I am not who I was. I am new. I am transformed. And it is from that changed place that I can now see history for what it truly is.
Yes, a tragedy happened here. Yes, ED did rob me of several years. But I cannot and will not let that episode continue to rob me of the joy to come and the beautiful history I have within these four walls. It does not and will not define me.