6 Lessons My Recovery Has Taught Me So Far
Okay, guys, I promise that the majority of my blog posts will be about sharing all my yummy recipes that you are probably drooling over RIGHT ABOUT NOW (How can you not though?). But, sometimes I reflect & get all emotional & philosophical and stuff and today was one of those mornings. For those of you who are interested, here are a couple valuable life lessons the beginning of my eating disorder recovery process has taught me:
1) LIFE IS NOT ABOUT AVOIDING THE SITUATIONS WE ARE FACED WITH, BUT RATHER ABOUT FACING THEM HEAD ON
When I look back on my life (& specifically the past five years), I think it’s safe to say that I have often been faced with situations that I did not choose. This is something I have forced myself to accept and to be rational about (Yep, this is where those lawyer characteristics kick in & make me rationalize about just about everything). Instead of facing those situations, grieving them the proper way & finding closure, I bottled them up, neglected myself and internalized a lot of sadness & anger.
Recovery has taught me that when you make time for yourself and give yourself time to reflect on the past and breathe, you learn a lot about who you are and the reasons for which you dealt (or rather, avoided dealing) with situations. It has taught me that the only way you really “get through something” is by understanding & getting to the root of why it all began in the first place. AND THEN, opening up and allowing people you trust to be by your side & be part of your recovery process. Doing so allows you to tackle the triggers, to make them your b*tch & to RISE STRONG. I now know that experiencing emotions is a good thing, that hiding and denying negative emotions is counterproductive because said emotions always find a way to manifest themselves in other ways, ERGO, my eating disorder. After all, I am human too & I am entitled to feel however I want in any given situation and NOBODY can take that away from me.
Do I regret the way I dealt with the other traumatizing situations in my past? Maybe. Do I wish I had faced them head on? Yeah, probably. BUT, I also learned that it is never too late to grieve. You know that expression we so often use “kill two birds with one stone”? Well, let me tell you, I’m killing tons with this one stone that is my eating disorder recovery. I’ve learned to open up, to be vocal about what I’ve been through & to FACE IT. In just a few short months, this has allowed me to grow so much as a person and to accept that it’s okay to cry, to have good days, to have bad days, to feel anxious and helpless, to feel freaking amazing BUT MOST OF ALL, that it’s okay for my life not to be perfectly perfect & that what matters most is the ability to remain positive and to see the light at the end of the tunnel (even if it seems so far, even if it’s flickering, and even if it’s about to burn).
2) NOBODY IS GOING TO GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO RECOVER
Another lesson I have learned throughout my eating disorder is that NOBODY is going to give you permission to decide to recover. NOBODY is going to give you permission to eat out of the pint of ice cream (HOWEVER, please note that I hereby officially grant you all permission to ring my doorbell with a medium Dairy Queen Cookie Dough Blizzard with chocolate ice cream. K THANKS). NOBODY is going to give you permission to divert from your daily eating routine. And, even if they do, you won’t listen. Only ONE person can grant you those permissions and that person is YOU. You need to find it within yourself to do everything that recovery entails (no matter how hard, albeit impossible, it seems). And, when you finally realize it’s possible, your life will literally take a complete turn for the better. No, but seriously, A COMPLETE 360.
On Monday, February 6th, 2017, I sat in my therapist’s office and for the first time since I had begun my treatment with him, he really made it seem like there was no time for other options. I’m not gonna lie, I was scared. It was either I chose to commit myself to a (very demanding & caloric) meal-plan, which he essentially told me would make me feel like a walking sumo-wrestler (and it literally does, my goodness, but whatevz, it’s working!!) OR to check myself into an eating disorder treatment center. SUDDENLY, the decision became very easy. Monday, February 6th, 2017 is the day I gave myself permission to recover. It took reaching rock bottom for me in order to realize the severity of what I was going through & the urgency with which the situation had to be dealt with in order to turn things around. And that’s exactly what I did. I turned things around & the next morning, I whipped up the carb-filled breakfast outlined on the “sumo-wrestler” meal plan & I never looked back. All this to say, GRANT YOURSELF THE PERMISSION TO RECOVER. It will be the BEST permission you have ever been granted (Yes, even better than the permission your parents used to give you to stay out past 3 AM on a Saturday) & you will be forever thankful.
3) SOMETIMES, IT’S OKAY TO LET GO OF YOUR PRIDE
Letting go of your pride and asking for help is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s the best decision you could ever make (seriously, though, I promise). For a long time, I avoided asking for help because I did not know how to express to other people the emotions I was feeling & I felt as though doing so would mean that I was “weak” or “giving in”. Then, I reached rock bottom & realized that debating whether or not I would ask for help was no longer an option – it was the ONLY option. As someone who has continuously imposed extremely high standards upon myself throughout all of life’s challenges & who has always found comfort in tackling & overcoming obstacles on my own, I am proud to say that seeking the proper help allowed me to get to where I am today. Although I may not be fully recovered yet (because unfortunately, recovery is a very LONG process), I would never look back.
INSERT: Although I may have been unable to express this a few months ago, I am forever thankful to all my family & friends who supported me throughout this journey & I am so happy that I finally stood up to the eating disorder and accepted the help they had so desperately been trying to give me all along. So people, no matter how much pride you have, no matter how independent you have always been & no matter how often you have accomplished or overcome obstacles on your own, if there is one thing I could teach you it’s that embracing love, help & support from those around you who genuinely care is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of ULTIMATE strength. SO BE STRONG & ACCEPT IT. Nobody should go through an eating disorder or any other mental health disorder or struggle alone. I mean it. Trust me.
4) WE ARE A LOT STRONGER THAN WE THINK WE ARE
I guess it’s true what they say. G-d gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. In life, when we are faced with horrible, traumatizing experiences or situations, it is very easy to question “Why me?” BUT, I’ve learned that the strength is not in questioning, but rather in picking yourself up, and tackling the battle headstrong.
At the beginning of my journey into recovery, the word “strength” was not part of my vocabulary. I genuinely felt like the weakest & most helpless person in the world. Looking back, I now realize that I was pretty strong. When faced with adversity, I stood up when I wanted to fall. I owned up to & faced the eating disorder. I decided I was going to tackle it. I took on the tears and looks of worry on my family & friends’ faces with a goal of turning them into laughs and smiles. I dug deep into my past and faced the truth about myself and about the way I grieved and dealt with other traumatizing experiences in my life. I FINALLY asked for & accepted help when it stripped me of my control, something I so desperately tried to hold onto throughout the course of my eating disorder. Most importantly, I made the decision to make recovery my b*itch & I chose myself over the eating disorder. AND IT WAS THE BEST DECISION I HAVE EVER MADE.
5) RECOVERY IS NOT EASY, BUT IT’S SO WORTH IT
Yes, I am not going to lie. I spend the majority of my day in my kitchen, following my meal plan to a T. I finish breakfast & already have to start thinking about my mid-morning snack. Then, after devouring a warm, moist banana blueberry muffin (OHMAGAWD, so good), I already have to start thinking of chopping up my veggies for lunch. Do I sometimes ask myself why I can’t just spend my days cuddled up in bed binge-watching Scandal? YEP (#guiltyascharged). BUT (& there is always a BUT), YOU have to make it happen every day. You know what? Committing myself to my meal plan & to recovery in general beats those Scandal marathons ANY DAY because since day one (literally), it has been so rewarding in so many ways:
- It has taught me that I do not understand how I ever gave up BREAD & carbs (I remember only a few days into my meal plan, my dad called me to ask me how things were going, and my exact words to him were: “I love bread so much. How did I ever give up bread?”).
- No but really, it has allowed me to learn so much about eating to nourish and take care of my body. I have learned more about health, nutrients & self-care in the past two months than I have learned in my entire life. Being able to eat without the fear of losing control or diverting from my daily routine is literally the most amazing & liberating feeling in the world. I can now say, with utmost certainty that I eat for the simple act of enjoying it & nourishing my body. I indulge (maybe too often, according to some, ergo, cookie dough, why must you exist & be so good?), without feeling guilty. Bottom line, being healthy and developing a healthy relationship with food (Oh food, I LOVE YOU) is an essential component of living a healthy life overall.
- It has allowed me to see tangible results. It is amazing how quickly after starting the recovery process that I began to feel so much happier & to have so much more energy. My therapist once told me that, “Food is my only medicine”. A few months ago, I would’ve told you that that was crazy (not gonna lie), but looking back, nothing has ever been truer.
- It has allowed me to find my voice, my voice against the thoughts that triggered the eating disorder in the first place and best of all, my voice to share my story with all of you. Being able to share my journey through anorexia and into my recovery process (with the birth of #kellyinthekitch) has helped me find a way to take the HELL that I have lived through and use it as a way to help and inspire others. Sharing my journey allows me to stand up to the eating disorder and to share the hope that is recovering.
- It has taught me that sometimes you need to be your own top priority. As I mentioned earlier, recovery has taught me a lot about who I am. As I began my recovery process, my treatment team kept telling me that I had to be selfish & make myself my number-one priority. I constantly questioned whether that made any sense & whether that was even possible. BUT, I have learned that recovery is a long process and is not something that can be done passively. It is something that you need to take an active role in to be successful, and something that needs to be worked at all day, err’ day. In order to do this, you need to come to terms with the idea that you NEED to put yourself, your meal plan & your own mental health first. Although doing so might feel all kinds of wrong, it is an essential component of the recovery process. IT SIMPLY MUST BE DONE.
- It has opened my eyes to the reality that recovery is about trusting yourself and your body to do what’s right. You need to trust that the process is going to help get you to that place you really want to be. And let me tell you, there is no place I’d rather be than HERE.
6) HOW GOOD FOOD IS
LASTLY, recovery has taught me HOW GOOD FOOD IS. Every time I take a bite of the yummy dishes I cook up in my kitch, I consider it my own personal victory (EFF YOU ANOREXIA) & a reminder of how far I have come. TO CONCLUDE (because you are all probably salivating at the thought of my next recipe post), eating disorder recovery is literally the definition of FREEDOM & I am so effing proud to say that I am FINALLY FREE & that I can share my journey through recovery with all of you. ENOUGH WITH THE SERIOUS SH*T, I’m back to making you guys drool (#sorrynotsorry).