Freedom is such a loose term – what exactly does it mean? For years I claimed that I wanted to be free from my eating disorder, but I never truly knew what freedom was because I had never fully experienced it. I imagined what it was like – but I could only explain it in vague terms. I knew it encompassed a life of happiness and spontaneity, but I couldn’t pinpoint any other words to describe my distant dream. I wanted it, but didn’t quite know what it was.
As I saw others live their happy lives, I couldn’t fathom it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept that life had the potential to be beautifully and wonderfully spent. I was so trapped in my thoughts that the world was nothing more than a slow moving blur. I saw faces and I heard sounds, but that was the extent of my comprehension. Not only was my mind suppressed, it was numb. I had successfully numbed myself from emotion, other than the overwhelming darkness that lingered within my soul.
I did not come to use the term ‘recovery’ until very far into my battle. I didn’t understand how you could recover from something that wasn’t an illness – yes you read that correctly, I didn’t think of my eating disorder as an illness for years. I assumed it just to be how my brain was wired. I assumed it was the way I was meant to be. I thought I was just born as a sad soul, and that’s how it would always remain. I knew I had eating issues, but this was not registered in my own mind as an illness. It was just another part of my genetic makeup – something that couldn’t be resolved.
If you know me at all, or have just come to know me through my social media platforms, I hope you can see that the term ‘sad soul’ does not even remotely encompass the person that I am. In reality, it’s the exact opposite. That is what my eating disorder morphed me into, but that’s not me. The beliefs my demons instilled in my mind were all rooted in one purpose – to kill me. If these monsters could convince me that my struggles were irreversible, then why would I even try?
This mindset is where I remained for years. I saw other people recover and understood that it was possible, but it just wasn’t possible for me. “You’re too far gone,” my demons would whisper. “This is just how your life was meant to be.”
As I sit here writing, I can think of 10 things off the top of my head that have already made me smile today (and please keep in mind it’s only 11am). I can tell you 100 things that have made me laugh within the past week, and I can tell you 1,000 things that have happened in the past month that have reminded me how blessed I am. This joy that overflows from my soul – it is rooted in my strength. It is rooted in the fact that despite the lies my demons fed me, I continued to challenge them. My joy has come from my pain, but I am thankful for this because I don’t think I’d understand the beauty of my life today without experiencing the hell I went through to get here. It was completely and totally horrific, but look where I am today. It was worth it. It taught me who I am.
So now I have to ask you, have you fallen into your demon’s trap? Have you removed yourself from the possibility of recovery? Have you accepted that recovery may be possible for others, but not possible for you? If you answered yes, I beg of you to reconsider.
I now have my own definition of freedom – something that is no longer loosely defined. It is a concrete part of my everyday life. It is waking up in the morning and instantaneously craving my warm and melty peanut butter oatmeal. It is getting dressed without looking in the mirror, knowing that I look just fine. It is answering the phone to an old friend and agreeing to a few glasses of wine without a moment of hesitation. It is my ear-piercing laughter and a radiant smile. Freedom is having the ability to survive without any reliance on another person, place, or thing. It is the ability to thrive independently. Freedom is my favorite ice cream on a summer night. It is peace of mind. It is mental clarity, accompanied by a passionate heart and a strong body. Freedom is not just the ability to escape the things that once held you back, but also the chance to rediscover the person you lost sight of in the midst of your battle. It is happiness. And if you haven’t yet experienced this freedom, I promise it is right around the corner. Keep fighting.