Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire
I thought the week I came home from treatment would epitomize freedom - I'd be separate from my eating disorder and able to live without its hindrance. I truly believed that if I willingly dove into residential treatment I would return home ready to survive. I was nothing but naive in this respect. the tyrant is still screaming, my family is scared, I am exhausted and frustrated. The kitchen still looms large in my mind, resembling a dungeon more so than the archetype of home that kitchens should be at this time of year.Program, a long string of 12 hour days filled with group therapy and food, allowed me to experience a meaningful sense of community. I didn't have to explain what it felt like to have anorexia, or to exercise to the point of excruciating pain. There was a mutual understanding of what it feels like to starve, to know your organs are feasting on themselves and yet be too paralyzed by fear to eat. In a world where asking for help is allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, we had each other; we are approaching life with similar burdens, fears and obstacles to clear. We empathize with each other but feel unworthy to accept the compassion direct towards us.It was nearly two months spent in a crucible - a confined space lit by fireworks of insight and emotional explosions. Lights which illuminated difficult and ugly truths. Truths that make me cringe just writing about them - I started restricting in fifth grade; somedays I want nothing more than to return to the comfortable familiarity of anorexia; my bones are thinning and my heart is off-beat; at 20 years old I was told I may never run again.I witnessed amazing and inspiring resilience. Women who have spent years in and out of treatment are still hopeful that recovery is possible and ED can be a thing of the past. Women taking time away from from their jobs, children and spouses with the understanding that these relationships are much more meaningful in health than in illness. Men who are willing to break the stereotype of "eating disorder patient" in order to help themselves and each other.I am a girl who withdrew from school to spend months facing her worst fears - food and stillness. She approached treatment with an alien sense of courage and peace; yet from the far side of that decision she recognizes these emotions to be a fragile mask, a facade that promptly shattered when exposed to the chill of reality. I believed that if I painted a picture of focus, determination and strength I would eventually feel these things. In hindsight, it's vulnerability that I need to familiarize myself with. I'm not who I thought I was. I expected myself to want recovery every moment of every day, I saw myself fighting to ED's death. Really, I'm just confused, overwhelmed and disappointed in my perpetual gullibility when it comes to ED's lies. I expected this to be the end, but I'm realizing now that I am just beginning.