My Eating Disorder Recovery-How Gaining Weight Gained me a Life!
I wanted to be so small.
Like “magazine cover” small.
I wanted to fit into the smallest sizes and places.
I wanted to shrink down and take up less space.
I had bought into this fantasy that the thinner I looked, the more desirable I was.
It came from all sorts of different logical reasons all jumbled in my brain. Part of me had adopted the belief that boys only liked girls size 2 or smaller. I saw it on social media, YouTube videos, you name it! The pretty girl was always very tiny and her boyfriend was always beautiful. Part of the belief came from wanting to be ‘perfect.’ I had always been the overachiever, type A gal in my family and friend group and when I say I accomplished everything… I mean it. Anything I set my mind to was going to get done and it was going to get done by me and myself alone. I was a ‘go getter.’
But, what happens when what I’m chasing isn’t a good thing for me anymore? The third piece of the puzzle has taken me the longest to understand even for myself, but I also think that recovery and awareness takes time when you’re really trying to unravel the ‘why’ behind your eating disorder. For me, the final piece was something along the lines of this, “If I didn’t gain the approval and validation from others, I didn’t matter.”
I had little to no self-esteem when I fell into anorexia. I didn’t like the person I was, in fact, I really didn’t even know her. Now, whose fault is this? What made this small, young girl so unsure of herself? I’m not sure and I also don’t think it matters.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my own eating disorder struggles or recovery process. It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t glamorous. It was downright painful, but it molded me into the woman I am today and I believe that the world needed me to be this girl on the other side.
The approval ratings I was seeking, or so I thought, was what kept me in my eating disorder for nearly ten years. I didn’t believe I could carry self-value if I gained weight. I didn’t think that people would find me beautiful or intelligent or worthy if I didn’t look and eat a specific way. I didn’t believe that I could be happy if I wasn’t smaller.
And this is where I want to shift your mind because I had to shift mine.
What did I gain from chasing thin?
I made a list of all the things I gained from losing:
-concern of others
-fear of foods and eating out in public
-loss of creativity
-disinterest in hobbies and activities
-inability to concentrate for long periods of time
If this seems depressing, it was.
I refuse to sugarcoat this blog post because my eating disorder wasn’t the fantasy it’s perceived to be online.
I was sick and starving and sad. I was struggling and I didn’t know how to stop. I was aware that my eating and weight was becoming less and less, but the goalpost I had placed for myself seemed so spectacular that I believed it would fix all this terrible pain I was experiencing along the way.
I truly believed that the moment I reached my ‘goal weight’ all the pain, all the suffering, all the sadness and struggles would instantaneously vanish. In the blink of an eye, I would gain all this energy and clear skin and perfect body and lifestyle surrounded by friends and fun and freedom… I just had to reach that goal weight.
That was my ticket to happiness, fame, and fortune. Why? Because the world told me it was. The entire Universe was screaming at me that women who are thin are rich and famous and successful and married and adored. They have a seat at the table and money in the bank. The greatest thing a woman can be is desirable and that started with having a size 2 waist. To some, this rant may sound insane, but to many it all makes complete and utter sense.
I reached size 2.
In fact, I reached size 0.
Because what I thought size 2 would bring me (listed above) it did not, so I had to keep searching.
I hit size 0. Nothing. No happiness. No freedom. No fun or sunshine or rainbows or beauty or complete and utter confidence that I so desperately was after!
None of that.
I hit size 0 and didn’t know where to go. The formula I had followed to a t, failed me. And I was left with two options. Continue to chase a false formula or wake up.
I had to wake up.
My fantasy wasn’t real. My ED had lied to me and set me down a spiraling path of destruction. I couldn’t blame myself, that didn’t help. I had simply fallen victim to a falsehood that I refused to play with anymore.
I had to fight back and scream and argue and kick and rebel against that voice inside my head saying, “Emily, you have to eat less.” I didn’t have to eat less anymore. I had to promise myself, the real me, I would win this battle.
And I had to gain weight.
I had to gain weight to gain my life.
The life that had been robbed from me for years before.
The life I could always have tapped into because it was mine and for me.
The life I had starved away.
But, it was still there! And I was determined to live it and live it fully! I was determined to eat and gain that life and cry about my thighs and scream when my pants didn’t fit, but the truth of the matter is this: all the things I thought my ED would bring me, it never did. All the things I ever desired to be mine, came when I began to gain my life.
I became self-confident and self-motivated. I loved my skin and took care of myself unapologetically! I became happy and healthy. I was open to meeting new people and dating new boys. I learned that the approval and appreciation I had been obsessed with receiving from others, I had simply always wanted it from myself.
Sure, I gained weight.
I also gained:
-the ability to travel
-late movie nights with the girls
-stress free around food or eating out
-an appreciation for my amazing body
-a love for my own strength
-laughs and love that I had been starved of before
-an understanding and empathy for other women going through the same trials
-my business and brand
-control of my life instead of being controlled by food
I gained a life.
I gained weight.
I gained the weight of a life and that, my sweet souls, has been worth every single pair of pants that don’t fit, new bra I had to purchase, crying sessions when I saw myself in an ‘unflattering photo.’
It was worth every single moment of recovery.
I urge you to make your own lists. Because I can almost guarantee you, your ED is not going to bring you what you want, but gaining a life, that will<3