Re-posted from the Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders (CCED) blog archives. CCED and The Emily Program partnered in 2014.
**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.
By Maia Polson
During weight restoration, it can be difficult to confront the idea of taking up space with your physical body. On the surface, it seems like a body image issue. But that fear is often rooted much deeper in a fear of taking up symbolic “space” with someone’s personality and even his or her basic needs.
At one time, I think I did want to stop taking up “space” and disappear, and my eating disorder was going to help me do it. I felt like all my personal flaws were what kept me from getting what I wanted out of life. Eventually, I became emotionally isolated from everyone around me, and I felt like a broken spirit with an even more broken body. I thought I stuck out like a sore thumb in every situation, and that no one really wanted anything to do with me.
Looking back, I realize that the problem was that I didn’t want anything to do with myself. Now that I am actually learning to love myself and accept my healthy body, I am able to connect with the people in the world around me. The men that I used to wish would think of me as something other than homework help now actually flirt back.
The strange thing is, getting positive attention for taking care of your mind and body, even when you’re trying to, is a difficult thing to accept. Being healthy and happy, the things I’ve been fighting against and risking my life to avoid, are what are getting me the things I’ve always wanted: deepened friendships, dates with men I’m interested in (and who are attracted to my whole self), passion for learning, and even being able to simply sit and breathe.
I’ve been convinced for so long that recovery meant being miserable and hating my body every single day. It’s incredibly difficult to wrap my head around the idea that recovery actually gets me all the things my core self has been yearning for. Maybe that’s simply what happens when you trust the people who love you and let go of the thing that never loved you back.
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