She understood that the hardest times in life to go through were when you were transitioning from one version of yourself to another. – Sarah Addison Allen
I’m at that age in life where I actually now begin to understand what adults mean when they talk about change. I don’t know about you, but I think that my recovery from my ED has allowed me to really understand and appreciate what this quote really means.
Transitioning from one version of yourself to another.
I struggled with disordered eating for 7 years. If you had met me in my teens, you wouldn’t have recognized me. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have wanted to be friends with me because I had so many issues to begin with. My quest to be thin led me on a downward spiral straight into Hell. I was obsessive and compulsive. I was narrow minded and depressed. I shut myself from the world. I refused to try new things. I was critical and judgmental of myself. I was jealous and spiteful. I was a coward. I was stubborn. I was counting calories, and exercising everyday for at least an hour each day. I was deliberately starving myself, and when I wasn’t starving, I was eating whatever the hell I wanted to before going back to punishing myself again the next day. Exercise wasn’t nourishment; it was punishment for me. Food wasn’t enjoyed, but controlled. I was self-harming and cutting my arms. I didn’t understand what change was. I didn’t want to go out; I wanted to stay home only and study my ass off to try and maintain those good grades to please my parents, and also because I hated how I look. I stopped going for dance because I hated how my body looked and was jealous of my skinnier dance mates. I dreaded eating out because I was afraid of eating new food. I wasn’t happy. I was depressed. I was suicidal.
I went for a course of therapy in December 2012 for about 8 months before going to Buffalo, NY for my student exchange program. Being someone who is frightened of change and who fears the unknown, what should have been the most fantabulous exciting thing of all suddenly became like a nightmare. 2 weeks before I was to leave for New York, I was crying to my therapist. I was afraid of the food and whether I would gain weight. I relied on affirmations and struggled to control my though patterns all though out the first few weeks of my trip.
I figured the best way to not think about such negativity was to drown myself with activities. I joined campus events and joined some student clubs to make friends and distract myself. I danced again, but I learned Latin dance instead, which was a blessing indeed. In Buffalo I learned the beauty of a non-city life. My time in Buffalo was my break. I needed it, and I loved it
When I returned to Singapore, I vowed to maintain that improvement, although granted the first half of the year was challenging for me and I found myself in an emotional and mental rut. But I told myself to do it. I was so incredibly unhappy for the past 7 years. I wanted to change, and live life better. I wanted to be able to enjoy life without worrying how I looked or obsess about what other people thought of me. I listened to my body. I tried to focus less on looks and what I think others would perceive of me. So I started going out more. Dancing more. Staying out later. Meeting new people of different ages and nationalities. Going to bars and even getting drunk (though that happened maybe just once or twice tops) just because I wanted to get out my comfort shell.
It sounds easy, doing all of that, but its not. It takes a lot of courage to be able to do something you’ve never done before, especially when you’ve lived your life fearing the unknown and especially for people who’ve had eating disorders, who lived their life in shades of black and white. But that’s part of recovery. To recover, you need to know that you can’t stay where you once were for the rest of your life. To recover, you need to change, and to change, you need the courage to do so.
Change takes time, and transitioning from that stage of my life to the present me is a challenge. I was frightened of doing all those and it didn’t go smoothly in the beginning. I would dawdle and delay and then make up my mind at the last minute, because it was so frightening for me. But hey, I tried. And I’m glad I did. And I did it so with support of good friends and with that of new people whom I’ve met ever since coming back from the U.S. It’s helping me figure out who I should be and helping me become the person I want to be. Am I fully recovered? No. I will always be in recovery and sometimes there are days when I want to starve myself because I feel humungous, or just eat everything in sight because I feel tired of trying to get my hunger cues back in balance, or not think about many calories there could be in a single meal or freak out if I miss a day’s worth of exercise. But I really do try. So for whoever comes into this particular chapter in my life without knowing what the other chapters are, don’t judge me coz ain’t me.
And to be honest, transitioning is exhausting. You need to deal with knowing that you are trying to live life a different way now, you need to deal with your fears and insecurities and gathering up courage and you need to figure out how to move in this world in your changing self as you expose yourself to different situations and find a place that you’re comfortable in.
So to anyone recovering from an ED, I understand your frustration, your fears and your confusion, and I applaud your strength, your courage and your determination.
Transition. Egg to caterpillar to pupa to butterfly.
Eating disorder or not, what stage in your life are you at right now?
(P.S. hi to anyone reading this. I spent my entire day doing nothing productive as I slept most of my day and afternoon away.)
And pardon-moi let me end the Saturday, or maybe start your weekend by asking you to appreciate how amazingly awesome these dancers are? I took Kyle’s class when I was in L.A in 2012 and I was FLOORED. Absolutely floored. Combining salsa and hiphop. Dat man has a fabulous mind.