There are many things that live and breathe beneath the surface of my daily life. I hold space in my lungs for old habits and women I used to be. The woman I love to ignore lately is the bulimic in recovery.
I went to weekly meetings for three years in order to support myself in healing bulimia and overeating. It took me nearly three years to describe myself as “recovered”. A fellow member of the group called me on it.
“How long have you been abstinent from binging and purging?” she asked me one evening after group.
I avoided her eye as I answered: “Two years, three months and five days….”
She nodded and sized me up in a heartbeat. “That’s what I thought. So why do you not call yourself recovered? Why isn’t your name down on the list of people who can support others?”
I shrugged. A coward’s shrug.
It’s amazing what taking on an identity can do to us, what shame can do to us. I had a shitload of abstinence under my belt, but admitting I might actually be “Recovered” was frightening as hell. It felt like there was no going back from that- that I couldn’t mess up. Also, I still wore a size 14. How can that be “recovered”? Don’t I need to be thin for that?
Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.
The truth was that I had conquered a beast of a disease and lived to tell about it. Make no mistake, there were many points in my life where my disease reached dangerous lows, but I had come out the other side. I had wisdom and experience to offer. I was, and am, an example of what is possible. It’s just that I was too busy being scared to admit it.
Thank God for the woman who called me out. I went on to support others in that group and through my site. Some experiences were incredibly rewarding, while others were a tough, tough lesson in boundaries. Addicts, in their disease, are ruthless liars and manipulators. I should know. I was one.
This time in my life still lives in my lungs because I have not fully let it go. Winter is here (which gets me reaching for carbs like a champ) and I put my back out on Monday. I’ve been a hobbling, hot mess all week and have been eating like one too. My awareness and connection to my Higher Power have had to be on full alert. Physical pain and emotional pain are bastard twins who can trigger my bulimia like nobody’s business if I’m not vigilant.
“Hello, darkness, my old friend.”
But if I’m going to reach for these thoughts, may I reach for this one first: “Danielle, you are recovered.”
So there! Fuck you, bulimia.
I know when to stop. I know how to halt the thoughts of “not good enough”. I choose God. I let go. It took me a long time to write this post. Even now, as I type, I hold a swallowed cry in my throat. I am, as ever, a work in progress.
And I am here for you, dear readers. Keep reaching out. You are loved.