Letting Go and Learning Boundaries
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Megan Bazzini is a writer—an aspiring YA novelist, cringe-worthy poet, and mental health essayist. She’s also a business school grad who has lived in LA, Hong Kong, and Milan. Now she’s returned home to New York, where she is a proud chihuahua rescue mom and works in technology strategy. Megan’s eating disorder recovery mantra is, “Keep going. Recovery is worth it.” You can follow her on Twitter (@BazziniBooks), visit her portfolio, or read more of her work on her blog, Butterfly Mind.
Eating disorder recovery is about recognizing the eating disorder thoughts and ultimately separating from, standing up to, and ignoring them. I eventually felt my personal progress had stalled in recovery, which made me self-conscious. I feared that I failed, and increasingly I withdrew socially.
I hadn’t known what being triggered meant or what it felt like before this difficult recovery hurdle. I became overly self-critical after hearing, “We’re so bad for eating X,” or “I didn’t eat today just to save room for Y.” It dredged up hot shame—my anorexia nervosa and its usual whispers. Recovery was antithetical to these common diet comments, but I knew I should be social and keep diet culture thoughts to myself.
I felt isolated when I realized that my eating disorder had influenced how and with whom I socialized. It was uncomfortable to notice that my values no longer aligned with those of many others, from gym acquaintances to long-term friends. In turn, I began to distance myself from those with whom I no longer aligned. Recovery is so all-consuming, and my eating disorder so life-destroying, that I had to prioritize mental peace and anti-diet harmony over everything else.
Gradually, reflecting on and actively changing my friendships concurred with new recovery strides. It was the first time I acknowledged how different I had become since quitting the eating disorder behaviors. I learned I could choose to leave the struggling version of me in the past, a version that was competitive and solitary. That wasn’t me—it was the eating disorder’s illusion of control and safety.
Choosing recovery has not and never will make me superior, morally or otherwise, to anyone. I still respect and wish the best for people I no longer consider close, whether my eating disorder drove a wedge between us before or after I sought treatment.
For the relationships that remained, I became proactive in setting social boundaries. The eating disorder wanted me to be a people pleaser, as it was fearful of losing people. It made me anxious that setting boundaries would end in more rejection and alienation. Instead, being vulnerable and sharing insecurities deepened many relationships with newfound trust.
I made new friends too—through support groups and new hobbies. Some even excitedly shared their self-care practices, opening me up to entirely new routines. It ignited self-curiosity and a desire to learn how I really wanted to carry myself and spend my time.
Because so much of recovery is an inward and personal journey, I hadn’t realized that many of my social behaviors were another facet of the eating disorder’s control. Only by letting go of the people-pleasing and the pressure of unrealistic expectations was I finally able to set my own priorities and boundaries. I like to say recovery gave me my life back but that isn’t entirely true; it gave me the opportunity to build a new one.