Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Just when I think I am done hiking, I have to climb another mountain...

{Smoky Mountains}
It’s been almost six months since I’ve completely stopped my eating disorder behaviors.

I’ve had a few small setbacks since last year, but nothing detrimental.

Hooray! Right?  …well, maybe…

I am having a minor identity crisis.  I just realized that I am not “good” at my eating disorder anymore.  I don’t think I could go back to the way I was even if I tried.

The food obsessions and eating disorder thoughts are still present in my mind.  And I am still tempted with negative self-talk and body-bashing.  However, if I gave into those thoughts and tried to follow through with the eating disorder behaviors, I would fail.  That's good! Right?

I kind of thought this breakthrough would make me happy.

The goal was to stop my eating disorder actions and slowly retrain my thoughts to cultivate a healthier lifestyle.  Considering all things, I seem to be on the right track.


I am starting to panic.

I recently came to the conclusion that, without my eating disorder, I do not know who I am.

If I do not have an eating disorder, who am I?  I have to figure out what “being Mary” means apart from the twisted disorder that controlled my life for the past 12 years.  Until now, I never realized what a security blanket it was for me.  I truly believe that I used eating disorder behaviors to cope with my anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, it used to be such a big part of my life every-single-day.  Fortunately, I realize that I do not want it to be part of my life anymore, no matter how difficult it is to live without it.  I am starting to panic because I can no longer fall back on my security blanket anymore.  I am choosing not to do so.  But…It is going to be a lot harder than I thought.  I am not sure how to live without it long term.  Or, at least, I am not sure how to think about living without it.

I found a new hurdle in my recovery – a new stumbling block – I'm going to call it “letting go”.

Since I have not engaged in those dangerous eating disorder behaviors for such a long time now, I am losing my “skills”.  I hate to use the word “skill” because it implies that the behaviors are good, which they are NOT.  It’s more like “techniques” than skills.  In the delusional mind of someone struggling with an eating disorder, the methods are coveted; they take practice and a certain degree of skillfulness in order for the person to be “successful” at the eating disorder (being “successful” in an eating disorder is really being “unsuccessful” in life and health).

Nonetheless, I know that I am losing my “skills” and I am not good at my eating disorder behaviors anymore.  I am less obsessed with food, calories, and exercise.  And the medicine I am taking is helping keep my depression and anxiety at a manageable level.  I am actually making progress with healthy, intuitive eating.  I feel like I am making strides along the road to recovery…yet it scares me.  A lot.

I thought I would be happy.  I thought I would be excited to have had made so much progress.  But I realize that I had some pride attached to my eating disorder as well.  I am not good at it anymore…so what am I good at now?  I am tempted to hold onto that pride and try to be good at it again.  What is going to happen if I lose it for good?  I want to be able to turn to it for security whenever I need it…

I have to remind myself that I do not “need” it anymore.

I have better, healthier coping skills now.  I have less stress and less anxiety in my life to cause me to want to use the disordered behaviors.  I have more self-compassion and self-love.  And I have purpose and meaning in my life again.

This new fear is just another mountain to climb.  I could get comfortable where I am and choose not to go any farther.  “I’ve done enough.  I could stop here.”  No more mountains.  But, I bet the view from up there is gorgeous.  I want to see what it looks like during a sunrise.  Maybe there will be even more mountains in the distance.  Even though I am tired, I cannot stop now.  I will use my new-found knowledge and keep on going.

Pray for me.  I will pray for you.

Challenge of the day:  Put one foot in front of the other.  Repeat.  If I keep my eyes on the top of the mountain the whole time, I might stumble and fall.  One step at a time.  Yet, every once in a while, look at the end point and remember that it is worth it.

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