June 11, 2004

And back to recovery. A few things combined became my reason to go back to recovery. Let's start with the past few months. I've been obsessively exercising, restricting, binging, and fasting in phases. For a while it was restricting and exercising, I lost a bit of weight, and was stuck in a schedule where everything was worked out... what time I'd wake up, go to sleep, eat, work out, shower, etc. Life was easy to control because I was on my own, didn't have the unpredictability of friends or family present, didn't really have to hide anything or comprimise my habits for anyone. Then he came home from school, I went away for a week, running was killing my joints, my joints telling me to lie the fuck down, my family's schedules weren't quite as regular... the road got bumpy and my schedule was thrown into a ditch. For the past five weeks, more or less, I've been either binging or fasting, neither making me feel okay. I've also been drinking in kind of a scary way. So that was the buildup for my decision. The next thing that happened was that Constance Rhodes contacted me for an interview about pro-ED websites and offered to send me a copy of her book, entitled Life Inside the "Thin" Cage. She's recovered from an eating disorder and chronic dieting, and her book is about escaping from an obsession with eating or being thin. I haven't finished the book yet, but within half an hour of skimming through I was already questioning my dedication to the cycling coping skills that I've been dependent on for so long. That soaked in for a few days and I pretty much decided to go for recovery, but my habits didn't change. The last thing that finalized my decision was a conversation with a friend who said he had to take time off after high school to "take care of some things" that would hinder his education and growth if ignored. That made me think about what I want to do and where I want to go with my future. What I want to do is far from staying obsessed with hating and blaming my body, and far from mistreating it and inhibiting myself from doing new things and growing in every direction I wish to. I want to take care of this while I have the time and ability to focus on it. I don't want to wait until I'm at school, or anywhere, and have a hundred other things to think about, and realize "shit, I can't manage all of my habits as well as all of this work" - I won't be able to continue having a disorder and going to school, I won't get all that I can out of school; and I don't know if I'll be able to recover in that situation - with so many things going on I could easily become overwhelmed and flee

This is the first time I've actually seen my behaviors clearly as harmful. I don't regret anything I've done. I think the past 2+ years have (and my recovery will) given me a lot of knowledge about myself and priceless experiences. Sounds kind of weird to say they're priceless, but it's true, they've taught me some important things about life. I'm moving on from that stage of my life with the ability to deal with my life in a conscious, thoughtful way that I wouldn't wish to be any different.

This is also the first time I've actually believed in recovery. For so long I've referred to recovery in quotation marks, apprehended that I'd always be haunted by my own self-loathing. Eating is always something people will think about; as is the body. I don't ever want to be oblivious of what I'm eating, or whether I've eaten, or what state my body is in. I want to maintain a thoughtful outlook concerning what I eat and my body's health.

As for my actual method of recovery... I'm doing it without professional help. I've seen professionals and learned from them about my ED before and I think that I can tackle this independently now. I want to treat my body as I would someone else's - with respect. I don't want to deal with an overwhelmed mind by attacking my body. When I need to eat, I'll ask, "what does this body need for fuel and nutrition?" rather than impulsively restricting or binging on food. I'm not expecting to be immediately cured. I've probably been dedicating 85% of my thoughts to eating for the past couple of years; I can't possibly imagine dropping from 90% to a minimal goal. I'm probably going to spend at least another month or a few without a change in that percentage, and I don't think it would be wise to try to change that.

I think the area I'm most clueless in right now is my self-image. It was for so long dependent on how I was feeling and eating. Now I'm trying to be realistic, to see how I actually look, and I have no idea how to do that. I'm a total foreigner when I look in the mirror. I'm utterly confused by my own reflection.

My first short-term goal is to go 30 days without binging or restricting. Word on the street is that it takes 21 days to break a habit - what, like biting your nails? I don't know, I think applying that rule to an ED is like saying it takes 21 days to get over a long-term lover. I also think that reaching short-term goals help create the consistency necessary for reaching and maintaining recovery.

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