Recovery is Real – a letter to my 20-year-old self
Over the last year, I’ve struggled to find a way to share the story of how I recovered from my eating disorder. These kinds of recovery stories were hard to find, but are so important to hear.
I don’t know how else to say this but: it’s really f’ing hard to recover from an eating disorder mostly because no one talks about it.
There were some days I felt normal, while other days I lied on my floor wishing I could do anything to escape my own body. I hate typing that, but that’s how I felt. And more than anything I felt alone. I talked about it to no one. I felt ashamed and isolated. On the outside I looked “healthy” but for a long time my behaviors were anything but. I teetered on the edge of recovery, but would get scared and relapse into restricting my food and over exercising.
So I decided to write this letter to the 20-year-old Georgie. I was a junior in college, it was three years after I had first recovered and I had fallen back into my restrictive eating. I was at my lowest weight and feeling more isolated than ever.
I’m writing this because it’s what I needed to hear at 20. I can only hope that this might reach someone when they need to hear it the most.
Dear 20-year-old Georgie,
Recovery is real.
Hi Georgie, it’s me Georgie. I’m coming to you from the future because I want to share a few things with you. Don’t roll your eyes at me, I’m serious. I know you’re stubborn, but just listen.
You know how you ask yourself if you’ll ever recover? If you’ll ever have a normal relationship with food again? I want to let you know that you will. You can. I know it’s hard to believe based on recent history, but you do have the power to change things.
But that’s the thing. The really hard thing. You have to commit to this shit. You can’t just say you want recovery… but not do everything in your power to get there. It’s gonna take a lot of long nights asking yourself “why?” And you have to do that.
You have to show up.
I’m going to tell you something that might upset you. You’re going to gain weight. Yup, I know you didn’t want to hear that. You wanted to know that you’d be perfectly happy but also at the weight that makes you sick and miserable, but that’s not how this will work for you. But here’s the good news. It won’t be the end of your world. Let’s pause there. You’ll gain weight and it won’t end you.
Sure, you’ll feel frustrated at times, but you’ll also learn to trust your body more than you ever have. You’ll learn what health feels like from the inside.
*Spoiler alert: it’s pretty damn amazing*
You’re going to stop counting calories. You’ll slowly slowly slowly let go of food guilt. BTW, eating almond butter without guilt is the best. You’re gonna love it. Just you wait. You’ll stop stepping on a scale. You’ll stop pinching your love handles in the mirror. You’re still going to have your tough tough days, but that’s a part of being human.
But perhaps the most important thing I can tell you is that when you take care of your body, I mean actually feed it, you will feel like the you again and there is no better feeling.
You might not realize it now, in the midst of the “fog” that comes over you when you stop eating enough and disconnect, but you’re not a very nice person to be around. When your thoughts are preoccupied with hiding your behaviors, your feelings, your hunger, you’re just a shell of yourself.
You’ll finally remember what it feels like to laugh, be curious… give a shit! Seriously. Saying “I don’t care” isn’t being easy going, it’s being nothing.
I know it might feel like no one notices, but they do. You’re not an island. I know you hate asking for help, but you have no idea how important it is to communicate to the people who love you.
This is a lesson that you’ll have to learn many times, but I’ll say it anyway: becoming less of yourself will not build the relationships you crave. Being less of yourself will not help you reach the huge ass goals you have.
You’ll get to a tipping point where you’ll slowly realize that living a life you love and are all-in on just won’t happen when you put your disorder first. You’ll slowly detach yourself from your disordered eating identity which will open up the room you need to actually be who you’re meant to be.
Finally, you’re not alone. If you reach out to other people, you’ll understand that. You’re certainly not the only one who has dealt with something before, so I say this in the most loving way, get over yourself and get some damn help.
Xo Future Georgie
PS – Your hair will finally start growing again and you won’t be so damn cold all the time