This week is my 19th Recovery Anniversary. Some years I recognize it, others I treat it like just any other day. This year it caught me off guard with emotions I wasn’t ready for. You likely have heard me say or write often that recovery is a journey not a destination. This is true for most things people are walking through if one is honest with themselves. But for recovery it is truer than one imagines.
What does that mean?
Does it mean I will always be sick with this disease? No.
Does it mean I have slipped? No.
Does it give me permission to use old behaviors? No.
It means I accept that I will always be Anorexic, I just make choices for living today. It means some days are harder than others. It means that the thinking, the emotions, the journey around my illness that I walked for 14 years never goes away. This is both good and difficult. The good are the lessons I continue to take away from the experience; the difficult is the struggle at times for true acceptance of self. There is a difference of opinion on this, for each journey is different. I am finding this is truer for me today than I realized starting out in recovery.
Over this long stretch of time, I constantly marvel at the surrealness of it all. There were more days than not that I didn’t expect to live while battling my illness. I honestly without doubt can tell you that I never imagined to be still walking this earth.
When you are in hell, it never feels like you are going to be able to get out.
When you had wounded every relationship in your life and look around to so very few left, you wonder if it is enough to stay.
When you had lost so much of what you dreamed for in wasted time, you struggle to forgive yourself.
You find yourself having to grieve this part of your journey before you can even attempt to find the gratitude within it. And, yes, I do find gratitude as hard as it is to believe.
This past October I turned 52. It is no monumental number to many, but to me it spoke in ways I wasn’t expecting. The recovery journey is always complex. It is in depth, and it is a path that I never expected to continue to be teaching me daily.
There are many times where I wanted to go back to it. Yes, I wanted to go back. While it sounds insane, it was simpler in ways to stay sick, then to face life.
Living means working at it every single day.
Living means facing the hard lessons every single day.
Living means not running from the hard personal work.
Living means completely giving up the one thing I believe to know me better than I know myself.
Living means turning away from the safety of the easier choice.
Some days I have wanted to choose Anorexia, but it doesn’t do for me what it used to for now I am choosing a behavior. I can’t reason away a poor choice, I know it is not right. I can’t ignore processing my emotions, for I learned to embrace them. I can’t abuse my body and not see or feel it instantly.
I have learned that I can be human. I can have a hard day and want to drown my emotions in food; that is not failure. If anything, that is more normal than I ever have been to accept that act. If I am struggling in my body and want to go workout, that is not a failure. It is an awareness. And in the end the benefits I receive from being in nature bring me back to myself.
Recovery is hard.
Recovery is real.
Recovery is facing the journey every single day and choosing to keep going.
Is it hard every day? No. Are there times I forget it ever existed? No. The difference is today, I choose. It doesn’t get to choose me.
Today I value my time, my presence on this journey. I use it to help others, so that the story is not wasted. I know that most people don’t understand me. I know that the life I live is hard for some to embrace without criticism. But I have chosen to keep going. I have chosen to live this life for me. I have chosen to stay on the journey.
I would like to believe that when my time is up, people would reflect on how I fought, not how it fought me.
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Andrea creates, builds, and offers her teachings and hands on life tools based on her journey healing her body image after a 14yr battle and life of trauma. Her vision always is to help others live a full life with the journey they are given.