I don’t often think about my life pre-recovery — the season of my life that was rocked by anorexia — not anymore.
My current life, particularly since meeting my husband and getting married is “onward and upward.” I respect what I went through to get to where I am today, and the hell God saved me from, but I’ve put that season of life to bed. It is behind me, where it will stay indefinitely.
But since we’ve moved back to my hometown in Ohio, I will sometimes be confronted or reminded of my past, whether I like it or not, simply because of my environment.
And I was recently at a party with all people who I haven’t seen since high school when I was 78 pounds in a raging eating disorder, with gray skin, and a gaunt, old-looking face that was terrifying to look at.
And for as nervous as I was going into it, filled with worry about the thoughts of others, it was actually quite beautiful: getting to “reintroduce” myself as the healed, whole young woman I am today, lifetimes away from that destructive young girl they remembered.
You see, that’s the thing about New York City that was so alluring and so fabulous, is that it was a clean slate. I was running from that familiarity. I had no past to wrestle with in the minds of others. I was who I presented in front of people that day. There was no history, no memories, no preconceived notions. But for as refreshing as it was, and as needed as it was during that time of my recovery journey, I have recently come to appreciate that here at home, I am known. That history that follows me around is nothing to fear anymore, but rather it only deepens who I am today and just how far God has delivered me.
All that to say, though I no longer fear having “run-ins” from my past, there are still things that I have rid from my life since adopting recovery.
I often get asked for advice about how to create a lasting recovery, particularly when just starting out, and so I thought I would share three things I have forbid from entering my recovered life.
1. I have thrown away the scale.
There is nothing beneficial that this tool can offer me. Period. Hard stop. I have vowed to never let my life be ruled by the numbers on the scale anymore. I don’t want to know. I don’t want to have to think about it. I don’t want to be tempted into comparison with my past weights — or the weights of others. I have rid this from my life.
When I go to the doctor, I do “blind weighs.” I don’t ask. I just will not define myself by a number anymore — a number that I nearly destroyed my life to shrink.
2. I’ve Banished My “Measuring Stick Jeans/Clothes”
If you’ve recovered from an eating disorder, then you will 100% know what I am talking about here: those clothes — particularly jeans — that you wore when you were at your sickest (read: skinniest.) The jeans that were your measuring stick, that you would know, if they fit…I’m [XXXX]-pounds. The jeans that were your “safe” clothes — that let you know that if you could fit into them, your eating disorder was winning.
THROW THEM AWAY. All of them. This is not the time for being thrifty or budget-minded: pitch them. Or better yet, burn them. I will never be going back to that unhealthy body size ever again — I don’t want to see them, I don’t want to be reminded of the size I lusted after, I don’t want to compare my current clothes with those “jeans of death.” I rid them from my life, and in fact: I had a little celebration when I did. I will no longer conform my body to fit the clothes of a pubescent girl. I am a woman. I have curves. I want to have children and to do so I need a healthy body and enough body fat to support my fertility. Those measuring stick clothes have no place in my life.
3. Expunge Any and All Influences that Promote Unnaturally Thin Bodies
I avoid fashion magazines. I’ve unfollowed actressess/celebrities that are too-thin. I don’t watch shows where the female protagonist is dangerously skinny. I have expelled all the negative influences from my radar that glorify or glamorize unnaturally thin women.
I just don’t need that in my mind. Back when I was deep in my anorexia, I used to pine after the images of gaunt models on the catwalks of Paris. I would obsess over thigh gaps and clavicles and this and that and all the while, spiraling head first into a destructive thought pattern of hating my body, and the even more dangerous game of comparison to those outrageously thin models in magazines.
Perhaps you’ve picked up on the pattern here:
I choose to protect my recovery at all costs.
There is nothing I won’t cut out of my life if it doesn’t serve my recovery.
I have chosen to eliminate all the areas of life that the enemy could use and twist into making the thought of losing a lot of weight attractive.
Because that is exactly what the enemy will do. He is cunning and will manipulate things, thoughts and ideas into footholds where he can and will draw you back into his den of destruction.
I stay focused on Jesus. I keep my mind filled with goodness, pure thoughts, honorable influences that are in line with His whisper of truth that I am worthy, I am loved, I am forgiven, I am not my past, I am His masterpiece – a work of art, and I am a new creation.
When I fill my heart with that, and cling to those truths that saved me and liberated me from the bondage of the eating disorder, I am free. I am free to love, to embrace the life He created for me, free to dream, free to be the girl I once was – before she was overtaken by anorexia.
That is the greatest blessing and victory in my life. And that is my deepest prayer for you.