I’m reading the book An Apple A Day by Emma Woolf. It’s a memoir of her journey to recovery from an eating disorder. So far, it’s been awesome and has reaffirmed my belief that in almost every case, people who’ve suffered with anorexia, no matter how different their histories might be, go through very similar experiences dealing with the ED. (BIG CAVEAT: I haven’t read the whole thing so I can’t recommend it – as always, approach any recovery resource with caution, thinking about what is and isn’t right for you.)
Last night, I read about the time Emma questioned whether she should give up on the idea of full recovery and settle for a life with anorexia – whether she should learn to live with it in the same way people learn to live with chronic pain or other mental illnesses. This really confronted me. I had to put the book down and honestly ask myself, Have I been learning to live with my eating disorder?
I’ve written before about the stage of recovery where on the outside things like relatively normal. But while you might be ticking all the recovery boxes on the surface, inwardly you’re still fixated on obeying rules and controlling everything. Reading Emma’s book last night made me reassess every aspect of my recovery and remind myself how important it is not to become complacent. Because do I really want to live a life full of rules and rigidity? Or do I want to be able to enjoy a spontaneous cake with coffee, cocktail with dinner or cookie with… anything really (let’s be honest!)?
Do I want to have to know what I’m having for lunch a day in advance, or do I eventually want to be an intuitive eater who can genuinely decide on the spot? These are the sorts of questions I need to keep asking myself, to remember where I’ve been before and where I want to go.
Emma’s book is teaching me a lot, but last night she reminded me to not let the ED thoughts run unrestrained around my head, to not let them control me but to talk them out, discuss them, think about why they’re there and ultimately challenge them.
Today, after recommitting to doing this, I turned my attention to a fear I’ve been thinking about a lot lately but have avoided speaking about (because I know that the minute I do Matt will lock in a date to challenge it – God love him!). So, instead of bottling it up I let it all out: telling Matt about my fears, my anxieties and, most importantly, my desire to challenge them.
I predicted right, we’ve now locked in a date, and while it scares the crap out of me and goes against every thought in my head right now, I’m going to do it because I do NOT want to simply learn to live with this thing – I want to be free, and free indeed!