The light at the end of the tunnel

While I can count my family on my fingers and toes, I can count the family supportive of my eating disorder recovery on one hand—that is, of course, those who are fully supportive, i.e. not actively trying to undermine everything recovery entails, thus enabling me to continue on in my negative coping habit ways. I’d read about a few instances wherein family encouraged other people to have eating disorders, despite numerous articles claiming family “can’t” cause eating disorders, then about how their family was anything but supportive during recovery. I rolled my eyes until it happened to me.

I have to look outside my family for support. The numbers are still lower than the amount of family I have. It sucks, but it is what it is; I can’t change it. There is not a day that goes by when I consider quitting, so annoyed with all this food I have to eat and my body acting like it’s stocking up for winter. Yet, those unsupportive family members masking their concerns about recovery as “caring”, probably because they lack control in that aspect of their own lives and want to live vicariously through a surrogate? They seem to think that jokes about whether I ran around the block today or statements about how I should exercise are helpful, despite my insisting that I can’t.

Lit lightbulb hanging on a silhouette background

I lost my period, except when it arrives randomly, after I had it for a month and a half circa late 2015 or so; it’s never been regular, but still. I never experienced puberty in full, because I started starving myself before it came. The biggest reason I stopped exercising in the first place was because I could physically feel my body breaking down as I did so. Every inch of me cracked with any movement—and it ached, as if I’d not moved there in too long. When I walked, the ground beneath me felt as though it was going to crumble any second, and I had to move with caution; only when I stopped exercising and started feeding myself did I realize what walking without pain was like, and that I no longer walked like I was out of breath all the time.

Exercising obsessively was never something I did on the regular, but it’s all I can think about in recovery. My balloon animal legs are chafing. What the fuck even is this? Seriously. Not a moment goes by when I don’t think about doing Pilates to rid myself of the horrors of an untrusting body trying to repair itself as much as it can while it’s being fed, during which time I also wonder if I could just not eat anymore because I’m sick of it. My head is done with food, but my body needs it and is making its demands louder than they ever have been within the last 16 years.

Comments about how I need to exercise because—let’s just call it what everyone who comments about it thinks it is—the person thinks I’m getting fat only feed the eating disorder and make me think I can’t do this and it’s not worth it, despite my taking it one step at a time. Comments like that assume I’m going at this fucking thing—this horrendous nightmare of eating again and again and again—with nothing but rainbows and happiness and laziness. They assume I’m not working my ass off and hating every second of it.

Worst of all, they assume the light at the end of the tunnel, in my head, is a sedentary lifestyle full of a lack of “control” in food.

They’re only half right.

The light at the end of my tunnel of anorexia recovery lacks imprisonment caused by food. I eat what I want whenever I want it, and I don’t care about stupid food rules—they mean nothing to me. I don’t diet, because diets enable the eating disorder; I consider dieting to be a relapse, because restriction’s how I got here in the first place. I exercise not to lose weight, but to tone my body so I can dance as much as I want to and however I want to.).

The light at the end of the tunnel is a completely recovered state of body and mind, and an understanding that I am a work-in-progress in character; I’m always developing. It’s peace with my body, regardless of its shape, and not giving a damn about how other people feel about it. It’s wearing what I want and feeling fine in it, regardless of what anyone else thinks. It’s being my unapologetic self on the outside, rather than locking her up on the inside.

It’s living my life to the fullest.

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