Authenticity, Transparency, & Boundaries: What Are My Limits in Anorexia Recovery?

Asian American Woman in Wheat Field

Anorexia Nervosa turns your entire life into chaos. It calls the shots about how you treat yourself and your body as well as how you interact with the world around you. In recovery, we get to take back control, learn our limits in anorexia recovery, recognize the limiting and harmful eating disorder beliefs that have kept us trapped and replace them with more helpful beliefs and boundaries for ourselves and others.

This is a beautiful and freeing process, but it is also overwhelming.

For many, their eating disorder has ruled their life for so long they don’t know how to be authentically themselves, communicate that transparently, and set and maintain the boundaries that will help them achieve recovery from anorexia nervosa.

Knowing Your Limits in Anorexia Recovery

Authenticity

Authenticity has a black-and-white dictionary definition of acting in a way that is “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character [1],” but what it looks like is different for every individual.

Black woman in Eating Disorder Treatment Knowing her Limits in Anorexia RecoveryFor those in recovery from anorexia, their authentic selves have been shoved in a closet for a long time.

It is likely they have no idea what an authentic version of themselves looks like.

Not knowing who “you” are makes it pretty hard to “be yourself.”

Think of this journey toward authenticity as an adventure, venturing into unknown experiences, relationships, and opportunities and deciding what you like, or don’t like, on the way.

Transparency

Authenticity cannot be achieved without transparency.

You must be honest and transparent with yourself about your thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, intentions, etc. in order to develop an understanding of who you truly are outside of your eating disorder. Learning to be transparent helps overcome limits in anorexia recovery.

After all, your adventure of trying to find “you” would be a lot harder if “you” hid from yourself the entire time.

This transparency is also crucial in moving toward recovery because your loved ones and treatment team can only help you if they exactly know what it is you are experiencing.

Boundaries

The concept of boundaries is possibly one of the most important in eating disorder recovery and mental health in general.

As Brene Brown explains, boundaries are “what’s okay or not okay with us [2].”

For someone with anorexia, their boundaries have revolved entirely around the goals of the eating disorder.

Woman struggling with Binge Eating Disorder and Fertility Issues

Getting to know oneself helps to explore how these boundaries can change to, instead, create a recovery-focused life where the individual puts their energy toward other goals that lead to fulfillment instead of emptiness.

Brown describes that “daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others [3].”

When we learn what is okay with us or not okay with us, what brings us up or tears us down, we have to advocate for these things, even if it means disappointing our loved ones, or our eating disorder voice.

These 3 traits culminate to foster recovery. Being transparent in order to live as our authentic selves allows us to be aware of what boundaries we need to set in our lives to achieve recovery-focused freedom.


References:

[1] Unknown (2019). Merriam-Webster Dictionary, retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/authentic.

[2] Brown, B. (2015). Rising strong. Published by Spiegel & Grau, ISBN: 0812995821


About the Author:

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.

Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a 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.

Published September 18, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on September 18, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.