Our Recovery Rockstar post comes from Sally, who talks about her experience in the space between being in the Eating Disorder and being fully recovered. She reminds us that there is opportunity for growth at every stage of recovery, and all the spaces in between.
One year ago, I began treatment at Cielo House. 365 days later, I am a very different person than who I was last year. Day one, I was fresh out of the hospital, and climbing up the stairs for group therapy made my head spin.Today, I can laugh, smile and eat like a “normie.” I can think clearly now that I am no longer in the fog of starvation. There is life in me again. However, I am not completely free. There is a place between disorder and full recovery where I currently reside. Sometimes it is nice here, things are smooth. Sometimes I want to run sprinting back to my eating disorder. Up and down I go, navigating the space in between.
One of the first things I thought after treatment was “now what?” I had come far enough to know I wanted to recover, but was left with a large void where the eating disorder once resided. What are you supposed to do when you finally let go of something that has been your entire world for eight years? You grieve. You romanticize the disorder. You question whether you were ever really that sick. Whatever happens, there is a void in the space in between.
One thing that I have decided to focus on is gratitude. When the eating disorder calls out my name and the shackles want to come back on, I let my heart, which is now healthy and functioning properly, fill with the feeling of gratefulness. I’m not quite ready to be thankful for myself yet, but I can be thankful for the staff at Cielo House (and Jen!) who invested their time and energy into helping me. This was not a journey I could have gotten through alone. It is not something anyone should have to go through alone. I’m grateful I didn’t. Cielo House showed me there was light beyond the darkness. My therapist has gone above and beyond to build rapport and provide support. Between the two, I have been able to let go. I’ve reached the space in between. Gratitude makes it a whole lot easier to keep moving forward.
If I were able to communicate one thing to myself last year, it would be that the eating disorder wasn’t me, as much as I thought it was. I never really thought I would recover. I never thought I would even want to recover. Yet one year later, I know that there can be so much more. I know that I want so much more than an addiction controlling my life. I know there is so much more I don’t know.
So if I can tell anyone debating starting recovery/treatment anything, it is to give it a year. It may seem like a long time, but imagine a lifetime controlled by an eating disorder. Find something or someone to be grateful for, and let it fill the space where the disorder lives in you. Let yourself have something to be grateful for. Before you decide the disorder is the end all be all, get to the space in between. It may take a year. It may take a lot more. You will be many different things. You will reach a point where you don’t look “sick” but still feel sick. It will pass. You will eventually feel the weight of every feeling, every emotion, every thought the disorder pushed away for you, maybe all at once. It will hurt, but it will pass. The space in between will come. And you know what? Keep pushing forward, it will eventually pass.