my flight from kentucky got into hartford at 4pm on sunday. my train for baltimore left at 8pm on monday. I got into baltimore at two o’clock this morning, for a 10am exam, but that’s besides the point. until my seat buddy got off in NYC, I was up and awake(ish), yet had forgotten my french homework, so I had nothing much to do but ramble away on a random word document:
I wish there was a stopping point for recovery, a moment when you know, finally and definitively, that YOU ARE HERE. a big red X. bells. whistles. something.
I struggled a lot last spring with the notion of not “looking sick,” even though my vitals were a mess and I felt like hell. none of that mattered to me, because I felt that I couldn’t possibly be in bad shape or in any danger, because I was horribly fat not visibly ill.
and now, almost an entire year later, I find myself asking, “what does recovery look like?” from my perspective and from others’.
what do people see in me, now, that they didn’t see when I was sick? do my eyes sparkle more? do I have a little bit more bounce in my step? is my hair shinier, does my body look stronger and healthier?
do I look recovered?
and from my standpoint: what will the world look like through recovery-tinted glasses? have I seen that world already, caught glimpses of it? or am I so far from it I wouldn’t know it if I did happen upon it?
even though I’m admittedly struggling more in recent weeks than I was last semester and even into the very beginning of the new year, I still experience these flashes of unbridled joy of being. surges of absolute ecstasy just at the wonder of being alive.
is that recovery? or is that caffeine?
how will I know I’ve reached the point where I can honestly say, “I no longer have an eating disorder?” what are the criterion for absolute recovery, for achieving Recovered Status? I haven’t made myself throw up in over ten months; does that put me one step closer to the checkered flag? because even thought the behavior might not be there, my mind is still a constant hamster wheel. and that has to count (discount?) for something. but how much? how do I know? when do I know? who’s call is it? am I ever going to have the definite answer I’m looking for?
today is five years since the last time I cut myself. I can put a date on that. my recovery from self-harm, my sobriety as it were, began five years ago today. I have not cut myself since, and therefore I consider myself a recovered cutter. even though I still, once in a blue moon, get blindsided by an urge so strong it takes my breath away…I haven’t cut myself in five years, and I don’t plan on doing so.
there is no convenient sobriety date for my eating disorder. because even if I know the last time I made myself throw up was april 12, 2009, a day doesn’t go by where I don’t think about bingeing or purging or restricting. usually, I can’t even make it through a day without some sort of eating disordered behavior. and if the behavior isn’t there, the incessant thinking is. the number mill in my brain, the bargaining I do with myself, the constant internal dialogues between my bulimic jekyll and hyde,
I could go another ten months without seeing the inside of a toilet bowl and would still never consider myself recovered. recovery, for all of the wonder and awe it inspires, can not be like this. I refuse to believe that I have fought this long and this hard to come to find that the end prize is this. because this is not a prize. this is not a life, dammit. this is…merely existing. and not even doing that well, or at the very least, with any zeal.
and I guess I’m left right where I began: wondering. what does recovery look like, what does it feel like, how do you know you’re there? does one ever get there–will *I* ever find myself there?
these ramblings brought to you by sleep deprivation, a lack of academic work because I left it ll on my bed, and the simple fact that I’ve been mulling over this in my head for weeks and finally had the time to get it out.