I once thought recovery meant always feeling at peace with who I am. I envisioned having a perfect life where I excelled in school, was surrounded by friends, and always felt beautiful. Of course, recovery means making peace with who I am, but that does not necessarily mean I am at peace all the time. For example, some days I want to skip breakfast, I do not want to put dressing on my salad, or I am reluctant to use my wheelchair because walking to class would burn more calories, but I have recently learned that noone is “perfect” at recovery. Maybe that is the point of recovery: to learn that attaining perfection should not be my life goal.
“Elastic Heart” by Sia captures what it is like to recover from an eating disorder. One line in particular, “I’m still fighting for peace” sums up my experience with recovery. I have days where “self-care” merely entails eating my meals, taking my medication, and going to bed at a decent hour, but I also have days where I do what I want (i.e. hang out with friends, watch TV, or go to a social event). Not every day is “fun” or easy to get through, but each day I live for the moments when I am genuinely happy. I live for the moments when I laugh with my friends, I learn interesting new facts in class, or I “people-watch” with my friends in Boulder. I do not love myself every second of everyday, but I take care of myself in order to ensure that I am well enough to do what I please on the days when I do love myself.
Recovery is not as simple as “just eating” (or refraining from any other self-destructive behavior); it is about learning to take care of oneself, accepting compliments/praise, and confiding in friends for the hope that one day self-love will be a given and will not be dependent on success, weight, level of fitness, or popularity.