Free after 20 Years by Susan
My eating disorder held me captive for 20 years. It began when I was 16 years old. Through my recovery, I discovered that as a little girl I never felt loved in my home. As I grew up I always felt like I didn’t fit in with the rest of the family; I felt invisible. I discovered that good grades or athletic achievements didn’t hold much value in our household, but size did. I worked very hard for many years to be “the thin one” so I would be accepted by my family.
It was late in January of 2004 when I realized I wanted help. I wanted to be healthy for my daughters. I wanted to be a grandmother and live a long life. I wanted to live.
Through my recovery, I learned that my eating disorder was my way of coping with an uncontrollable world. It was the only way I knew how to handle my emotional distress of feeling unloved and unworthy. Once I was able to loosen the grips of the eating disorder, I was able to see a whole new person underneath. The key for me was separating myself from the disorder. I refused to be defined by the disorder any longer; I had the power and the choice to let it go and begin a new life without it. To do this I needed support. That was crucial for me to realize because doing it alone was impossible. I reached out to the strongest hands I knew. The first hand was the Lord’s. I had to rely heavily on my faith and use His strength in my many hours of weakness. The second hand I reached for was my husband’s. He unselfishly devoted himself to me and to my recovery.
Another thing I needed was healthier coping skills. I needed life skills. Through my recovery program I was taught about boundaries, goal setting, stress management, identity, etc. However, my biggest lesson and a crucial turning point in my recovery was from a discussion with my Mom. While listening to her I opened my heart and saw her as a little girl growing up in an unhappy home. I saw her as a teenager being forced to marry the alcoholic father of her unborn child. It was then that I was able to understand that she had issues, insecurities and limitations of her own. That as my mother she loved me the best way that she knew how. That it wasn’t about me at all; it was about her. At that moment, I was free. Completely. That little girl inside me finally understood her childhood and she finally was at peace. She felt loved.
My greatest gift in all this has been finding Susan. I have discovered what makes me so special. I have embraced who I am and am proud of who I am. I have defined the person that I want to be in this world and I challenge myself every day to be that person.
Encouragement for Others
The hardest step is the first step. That’s the step where you chose recovery. It is a life decision. Understand that after that one step you will have many more to travel. Keep your steps tiny; go one day at a time; one hour at a time. Be patient with yourself and believe in yourself. There is life after an eating disorder. You need to believe that recovery is possible and that you absolutely deserve it!