I’m not the me that I started with/I’m freer and I’m wiser and I’m stronger
What I thought I could handle/What I thought I could take/ What I thought would destroy me
Leaves me stronger in its wake
–Crushed and Created, Caitlyn Smith
I entered Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) at The Center for Balanced Living one year ago today. One year ago I was making some of the worst decisions of my life and completely living in my eating disorder. I was engaging in eating disordered behaviors in front of my daughter, who I (foolishly) thought was not picking up on anything because she was only 17 months old. I teetered on the edge of wanting recovery and wanting to remain exactly where I was and, had my daughter not been depending on me every day, I probably would have chosen to remain exactly where I was. In many ways I owe Vivienne my life because she is the reason I chose recovery in the beginning. I was doing it for her, for my husband, for my marriage, but not for myself; that came later.
Recently I found my meal logs I had to keep and bring with me to my intake assessment at The Center and I was astonished at what I was (not) eating. I was a mess to say the least and continuing to burn as I kept falling further down. Standing in my kitchen looking at the documentation of how sick I really was brought tears to my eyes because, the day I found those was the day after I had been told by my therapist I could step down to sessions every other week. It was the day after my dietician told me we were beginning work on the final “layer” of my actual “food” recovery and committing to get me through my last fears and challenges. In 12 months I did a complete 180 in my attitude toward food, my body, and my recovery. Now I don’t put much thought into my meals and snacks, or the times at which I eat them, even though my “commitment to my health” still hangs on my kitchen cabinet.
Looking back, this year has probably been the hardest year of my life. I have been forced to face demons, misguided truths about myself, and memories from life experiences I never before allowed myself to face. BUT it has all been worth it. I am stronger, healthier, and more in love with my life than I have ever been. I have learned to know and understand myself on a level many people never get to experience. I’ve spent countless hours in individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, support groups, and at appointments with my dietician. I have also been to the doctor more in the last year than any single year in my entire life because I actually care about my health now. For the last year of treatment the expense has reached over $22,000 (thank God for insurance) for my outpatient appointments and IOP, but the benefits are priceless. I understand my body and appreciate it more than I ever thought possible. In the last year I have gone from sitting in a treatment center having my food monitored, watched while I ate, drinking Boost supplements to make up for food I didn’t eat, and even accompanied to the bathroom to ensure I wasn’t purging; to being nearly behavior-free for two months (I had a one-week slip two months ago or it would have been four months) and purge-free for so long I’ve lost count. I have met women who will surely be life-long friends and others who came across my path when we needed each other most. Women who were there to support me when I needed it, cheer me on in my successes, cry with me when I struggled, and laugh when we couldn’t handle the stress any longer.
I made the decision to take ownership of things that happened to me and things I have done. I went from hating my appearance, hating my body, and not wanting anyone to see it…ever…to running this blog and subsequent Facebook page about accepting and learning to love my body. I don’t hide my body from the world but wear what I want that shows it off. My stretch marks tell a story and I am proud of them. My body is a beast and it is awesome. And I’ll let you in on a secret…so is yours. I am proud of my body because it is a survivor. I am a survivor. I am a fighter. I’m a survivor of a long battle with an eating disorder, a survivor of sexual assault, and a survivor of self-hate.
Today I am thriving. I am happy, joyful, and full of life. While I wish I would have started “living” my life sooner, I am living it now. I am enjoying life on a daily basis and experiencing true confidence, acceptance, and love. My little family is moving forward with plans and dreams we had years ago, hindered by life events and my eating disordered challenges. My husband is incredibly amazing because he married me and continued to love me when I was at my absolute lowest. Now he gets to rejoice with me in discovering this “new” radiant woman. For the first time in my life I am making complete wise-mind decisions; meaning the eating disorder thoughts aren’t part of my decision making.
So, here I go, plunging forward into a life where I am truly living instead of existing.
I have been crushed and created, melted and made, broken and built up.
With Body Love,