I Made it to One Year of Recovery

Six months was a celebration, one year is a relief.

Recovery at six months meant something different to what it now means to me at one year. At six months I was celebrating being binge and restriction free, but now I’m relieved that how or what I eat, doesn’t determine how I feel about myself.

I have to be honest, the last six months have tested me. Feeling deep in to the emotions that I’d been avoiding for most of my life, brought up thoughts that made me wonder if I was breaking down mentally, again. I felt depression, I felt the strong desire to eat my emotions, I felt anxiety and loneliness – with nowhere to run.

I had to remind myself that sometimes the only way, is through.

Dealing with emotions, avoiding binges, and not restricting, was a lot to manage all at the same time, but as I progressed through it, I realised something helpful – I no longer judged myself by my emotions, or what I did or didn’t eat. There were days when I ate too many cakes – but I didn’t hate myself for it; there were days when depression was heavy and I got nothing done – I didn’t beat myself up about it; and I found peace and strength in a short fast here and there, without being afraid.

I still had tough times, but the eating disorder really was in the past.

At six months in to recovery, I’d decided that I was leaving BED firmly in the past and was excited to walk in to the new. I didn’t realise that almost instantly, I’d be led to new levels of learning and understanding of life without an eating disorder. I realised that Being Binge Free was not the same as a BED-Free Life.

I was learning and understanding the root of my eating disorder.

It wasn’t my emotions or what and how I ate, it was the beliefs I held about myself. I hated myself because from a young age, experiences had taught me that I deserved to be treated with hate rather than love. I’d therefore gone on to repeat the behaviours that upheld those beliefs, way in to my adult life. The only reason why I continued to allow myself and others to treat me that way was because that’s what I believed I deserved.

Committing to receiving treatment for my eating disorder had been the first step to loving myself.

My goal of receiving treatment was to stop bingeing, so I could lose weight and love myself. My biggest fear was that therapy wouldn’t work, I’d gain weight and hate myself even more. I’d never considered the possibility that therapy would work, I’d gain weight but love myself even more! Who knew that was even possible?… certainly not me!

But that’s what happened.

While I was using self-compassion to be binge free so I could lose weight, self-compassion was doing a different work. Self-compassion was breeding self-love, and the more I loved myself, the less impact my eating habits or my weight had on me.

I’m three stones heavier than when I started treatment and I would never have dreamed I could love myself the way I do, at this size. I still have emotions to deal with, I still have eating habits to change and I do still want to lose weight, but not because I want to love myself – I love myself already and it’s that love that has become the motivator to be the best Me I possibly can.

Approaching one year in recovery, I knew that If I wanted something different, then I needed to do something different.

Today is a whole year since I decided to walk away from my eating disorder – the relationship with food that had caused me a lot of distress. As I thought about this milestone in the context of my life and what I was learning about self-love, I knew that I was ready to fully own my life and make changes that were best for me.

Sitting compassionately with my emotions revealed just how unhappy I was in my life and although I felt like I didn’t have it in me, I knew that no matter how small, I needed to move – I needed to make change and do something different.

So I left my job…

…And today, 1st November 2021, is not only a one year recovery celebration, but the first day of officially being free from my job, stepping in to the possibilities that lie ahead for me. It’s the first day of my second year of recovery, with a love for myself and a renewed hope in my ability to create a life in which I allow myself to be happy.

Thank you for sticking with me as I’ve shared my reflections over the last year.
Here’s to year two!

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