Contributor: Robyn Baker, valued Eating Disorder Hope community member
When people used to ask me about my eating disorder recovery, I would tell them it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I would share with them all the challenges, setbacks and hardships I faced as I struggled to find a way back to my original “normal,” which is what I used to believe recovery was all about.
It’s been 8 years now since the beginning of my journey into eating disorder recovery but it wasn’t until this past year or so that my real process of healing in recovery truly began.
My greatest fear of entering treatment for a second time was it wasn’t going to work. I was terrified of being forever trapped within an illness stigmatized and misunderstood by friends, family and society at large.
I was scared that my eating disorder would be a part of my life (and a part of me) forever. From what I was told from doctors and patients, recovery was a beast. And when I was discharged after 3 long months of inpatient treatment, I discovered first hand that they were telling the truth.
Recovery was a lot of work and patience for sure, and at times I felt extremely disenchanted with what life after my eating disorder had turned out to be. It wasn’t until I learned to ask different questions and practice the art of self-forgiveness that life after ED become all that I had hoped it could be and, quite possibly, even more.
I’d heard multiple times how my eating disorder was not my fault; that it was something genetically programmed into my DNA and had been set off by environmental conditions (i.e. alcoholic father, overwhelmed with school, perfectionism, etc.). And although I had heard this explanation many times before, I never fully believed it in my heart or embodied it in my soul.
It wasn’t until I learned the practice of forgiveness that this fact completely sunk in. In the past, when I would contemplate the beginnings of my an eating disorder, I would think, “Yes, I made the choices to restrict my food and the choices to lie so how could my eating disorder have been something I didn’t choose?”
But when I finally learned how to forgive myself and fully understand that I was simply doing the best I could to survive by coping with life in the only way I knew how, I finally was able to let go of the heavy burden of resentment and self-pity I had carried in my heart for far too long in my recovery.
The process of forgiving myself for all that I had lost because of my eating disorder was long and I still have days when I must forgive myself yet again. Forgiveness was my starting point of real healing and it was also what allowed me to ask empowering questions about my eating disorder.
After I discovered the practice of self-forgiveness, I learned how to ask myself empowering questions rather than the same questions that only left me in a state of sadness, resentment and frustration. For a long time, I was stuck asking the question, “Why did this happen to me?”
I would think of all my friends who seemed so much further along in life, the dreams I had given up on and how discontented I was with my place in life. I would think, “If only I hadn’t had my eating disorder, I would be performing on Broadway not at community colleges, I would be living my dreams and doing what I know I was meant to do. I would be happy.”
I was stuck in this way of thinking for the majority of my recovery until I attended a retreat where I learned I was asking myself the wrong questions. This is when I learned how to ask, “Why did this happen FOR me, rather than why did this happen TO me.”
This simple change was huge in my recovery. It was what led me to start my own business of a body positive fitness studio and create my online program, Intuitive Exercise. It gave my life purpose and turned my eating disorder into a blessing.
I’m happy to say that today I feel so incredibly fulfilled with my work and with my life. I never thought life could be this full and rewarding. Changing my perspective on my eating disorder was a game changer and is something I hope others in recovery learn to do as they grow into their new lives. Sometimes the beauty in our life is found in our darkest place.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 23, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com