It's Yours to Own
A recent post, NEDAW II, brought a reader comment that really got me thinking. The commenter wrote that she feels hypocritical speaking out about eating disorders because she inevitably makes "mistakes" in her recovery. The question of hypocrisy has been brought to mind with each new post I write. "You've had an 'iffy' day, can you still ethically maintain a pro-recovery blog?" I believe I can, here's why:
I admit it when I fall off the bandwagon of recovery. I come clean to someone: Supermum, my therapist, readers, someone. I believe this is what draws the fine line between advertising one's ED through public media and hoping to use that media for one's own recovery and, hopefully, to inspire others to do the same.
The desire to recover is there. Yes, I feel guilty when I eat. Food is confusing: nourishment is necessary, but calories are scary; We need calories for our hearts to beat and our hair to grow, but how many is too many? These questions haunt recovering anorexics like the plague, but I am also haunted by the knowledge that I have a responsibility to myself and that responsibility is to recover. At it's base level, on a hard day, a sense of duty is all I can muster. On a good day the chore that is eating becomes a gnawing need to leave anorexia behind. Our enthusiasm about recovery comes in waves, this is only natural when confronting demons as well-ingrained and unrelenting as "ED." I cannot call myself a hypocrite for wavering under the weight of recovery, so to speak.
In the fourth grade I read a book about Dr. Seuss which, much to my surprise, explained that Dr. Seuss wrote primarily for himself, not for the billions of children who would grow up on One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Blue and The Foot Book. This was the basis of Anorexics Who Cook; I am writing to record my path to health, a path which includes side-trips, detours and many a twisting path. Sure, missteps could appear hypocritical, but look a little deeper and you'll see that I get up from each fall, stronger and more dedicated at that.
The fear of appearing hypocritical should not keep anyone from telling their story. If someone has a diagnosable eating disorder the behaviors are so much a part of their daily lives that it would be impossible to distinguish them with one take. As I discussed in therapy today, when there are lots of unknowns and sources of anxiety, restriction is my default mode. But, I admit it, I am coning to understand my vulnerabilities. Does that mean that ED won't seduce me back into my bad habits on occasion? No. It means that when I fall, I'll recognize it, 'fess up and, yes, write about it. We all face the questions of false virtue or fraud, but at the end of the day you own your recovery and you are the only person with the ability to judge your honesty and intent throughout the process.