**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 Liz Rognes, a former Emily Program client in recovery. She is a teacher, writer, and musician who lives in Spokane, WA.
When I was a kid, I suffered a traumatic injury to my face. I was kicked by a horse. I still remember which shirt I was wearing—it was a white T-shirt with a green square that said “H20” all around the perimeter. It became immediately soaked in blood. The doctor who stitched my lip back together told my parents to be prepared for the suggestion of plastic surgery to my face. But, to everyone’s surprise, my body healed itself quickly and gracefully. Now, decades later, the only evidence of the injury is a small, barely visible scar on my lower lip.
My body has healed and is healing from other trauma, too. The power of a body to clot and scab and scar is stunning. I love that my body is capable of healing itself, even if that healing sometimes leaves a scar or a lingering ache.
The scars on my body tell stories about who I am.
I love the way my body feels when I laugh. Laughter makes my body feel filled up in a way that has nothing to do with food, body weight, or anxiety.
My body conceived, grew, birthed, and nursed a child.
My body changes. My body adapts.
I can sink into a hot bath and notice my muscles relaxing. I love the feeling of easing my muscles and slowing my breaths in warm water.
Singing happens with my whole body. My mouth, my throat, my lungs, my head, my legs, my ears. Singing loudly makes my body feel awake, energized, and empowered.
A good novel or movie can transport my body to some other place entirely. Sometimes it feels wonderful to allow my body to try on different stories.
I love the way the wind feels on my skin. My body can sense an impending rainstorm by noticing a change in moisture or the smell of thickening air.
A good mountain or forest hike makes my legs feel strong. A gentle stroll through my neighborhood makes me feel connected to my community.
I love the way my body feels in the water. The shock of cool water swallowing my skin when I jump into a pool or a lake makes me feel vibrant.
I’ve been hospitalized many times for eating disorder-related health problems. When I started eating regularly and stopped purging, I thought that it would be impossible for my body to learn how to regulate itself. But my body tells me when I am hungry. My body processes the food I eat. My body has healed/is healing from a longtime eating disorder.
In fact, I enjoy eating. I love the way my body can detect subtle variations in flavor, and certain foods or smells in a kitchen remind me of my family or of beautiful moments in my life.
I like the way that cooking is something I do with my body. I use my whole body to knead and roll dough, I use my hands to chop and mince and press garlic, I notice the desires of my body when I choose to add an extra tablespoon of lemon juice or cinnamon or salt or butter, just because I want to. I love that my body can tell me what I need and what I want.
My body has given me second chances and third chances and fourth chances—so many chances to start over, to try again.
My body has healed, has recovered completely, from two suicide attempts.
My body is lucky.
I’m amazed at my body’s stamina, at its ability to withstand destruction and pain. I’m grateful for my body’s power to recover.
My body is not perfect—my body gets sick, my body falls, my body gets tired. But my body is mine. It is the place I inhabit, the thing that allows me to feel and smell and sing and laugh and rest, the thing through which I experience the world.
My body allows me to feel and to share the tangible experiences of love, in all forms.
My partner has a sturdy broad chest and arms that wrap around me. I love the way my body feels—safe, wanted, loved—next to him.
When I get home from work, my son runs to me. His little body collapses with delight into my open arms. He peppers my cheeks and my nose with tiny, gentle, wet kisses.
My body can hold my son while he sleeps, my arms around him, his sweet, heavy head on my shoulder.
My body is a site of love, steadiness, and comfort for my child.
My body holds my son, my partner, my dog. My body holds the hands of my family, my friends; my body cherishes the creatures I love.
My body is forgiving, loving, loved, lived in.
My body is alive.
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