Breaking Up From Addiction
Laura is on a mission to prove that recoveryfrom an eating disorder is, with the right help and guidance, absolutely possible. Aside from her experience with an eating disorder and the recovery process she also writes about body image, personal development (in life, well-being and business!) and spirituality in today’s society.
When you decide to recover from addiction, it usually takes some getting to that point. Perhaps that’s the ‘rock bottom’ moment we hear so much about, maybe it’s just a knowing that enough is enough. For some it will be a case of having to do it to stay alive. When I made the genuine commitment (this was the second time round) to recover from my eating disorder, though it was a long time coming, I was in no way prepared for the feelings I would then experience throughout the process.
I think of my relationship with anorexia as just that; a relationship. Not a good one mind, but one that was negative, self destructive and filled with extreme highs and lows. A battle between two beings. Like many bad relationships we tend to cling onto them for fear of the unknown. So when I decided to ‘break up’ with anorexia, like a relationship, I felt a real void and like a huge part of me was missing. My eating disorder had consumed me for so many years so what would I do and who would I be without it? I felt like it defined me.
Rebuilding and finding ‘me’ was a scary part of recovery. I didn’t really know who I was. But as I stayed committed, quite steadily, flickers of the old Laura started to reappear. Within a few months, everything about my life had changed. My current (and real!) relationship broke down so I found myself having to find somewhere new to live and from that my attitude to what I wanted from life and a partner completely shifted. I made the effort to see friends and socialise on a regular basis and learn to really let go and have fun again. My relationship with my family changed, I become more patient and compassionate and I started to realise that what I wanted to do with my career was not all about what would make me the most money, but more about what could I do that was worthwhile and how I could channel my abilities into something positive for others as well as myself. I think my attitude went from being incredibly insular to re-engaging with everything outside of me – and the eating disorder.
Actually, from that description, it sounds like everything went from crap to peachy quite quickly but that wasn’t exactly the case! It was a daunting process and there were many times that I felt very lost and like I had no idea who I was. As life tends to go, it threw a number of things at me that I could never have imagined happening – especially at this point where everything was literally being turned upside down. But as my therapist said when I went to her with yet another problem that came up “This is the universe testing you. It’s throwing all these things at you to see how you deal with them”. And I really believe it was! But now I’m grateful that these things happened because they forced me to continue to embrace recovery and get stronger – physically and mentally.
Recovery takes a lot of work and I think with all types of addiction recovery, it would always be easier to slip back into old habits. To not go back takes strength (and many tears and rants!) but as you take further and bigger steps, you start to see things more clearly. For me, my body started to heal from being nourished and my mind also started to clear and think straight. A bit like a veil had been lifted and I was seeing everything with fresh eyes. Like I was being switched back on. It’s a slog to start with, with not much reward but if you stride through that with real intention, those feelings of loss, frustration and uncertainty will gradually be replaced with an appreciation of life and a knowing that this is a far better place than where you were before. When I say that recovery changed me, I definitely mean for the better. Not only did it change me and what I wanted from life as a whole, but it helped me to reunite with who I really was before the eating disorder – fun, ambitious, a bit daft, energised…all those things the eating disorder suppressed.
I suppose my main message from this blog post is that recovery isn’t like a magic wand where when you make the decision to recover it just immediately gets better. The truth is, it doesn’t, and there probably will be sense of loss that you don’t know how to fill. But as you keep going the void will somehow fill naturally. It may take a while to completely recover from the addiction you have suffered with and will possibly be an on-going process but I know from my own experience at least, that the work you invest in doing so is more than worth it.