Sunday, August 24, 2008

Out of the Woods

Sometimes, remembering the hell of anorexia is frightening in the same way a nightmare is still frightening after you wake up. You know it's not real anymore, but you can't help feeling uneasy about it.

When I think of the girl I used to be, the pain I used to feel, the hole in which I used to live, I seem to stop breathing for a mere millisecond. Because I am consumed with the old feeling of desperation and fear and loathing. Then the instant passes--and quickly--because I am enveloped with the wonderful relief that I'm all right now. I've gotten out. I've made it through. And life is good. Actually good. I love life.

And I breathe that heavy sigh, letting air back into me, letting the memories flood back in a fashion I can handle now that my brain is completely aware that it's all in the past.

I can use my old pain to create new things--important things--and help other people. It wasn't all for nothing. It wasn't a struggle that I erased from my mind like it never happened. I can do something beneficial with the whole experience. Now.

I like to use this analogy when talking about my eating disorder, my recovery from it, and my recovered state: I'm out of the woods now. But I live in a house a mile down the road.

I think it symbolizes what being recovered is like. You're successfully out of danger. You're away from it. And you're happily living somewhere else. But you'll never forget it. And it's always there, at a distance, because it used to be a part of you even though it isn't any longer.

And something can come knocking on your door because you're not too far away. But you don't have to let it in.

People often ask me if writing about eating disorders and moderating a recovery site are difficult tasks for a recovered individual. I don't think so. They help me keep things in perspective. And since I'm not "in recovery" any longer, but consider myself "recovered" I'm in a good place where things can't touch me the way they could have in the past. I'm not triggered. I'm not apt to sink into a setback. I'm just living and wanting to help because I know what it feels like and because I was there once too. Helping other people always has the potential to be a bit draining, but it doesn't haunt me or make me think things I'd rather not think. I like have the purpose in my life--to share and help and advise and comfort and understand.

I'll never go back. I'm only going forward. And I want to take a lot of people with me.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for confirming what I have long felt is true...that being RECOVERED (not "in recovery" in perpetuation) is achievable. Thank you. I want to be you.

Arielle said...


No thanks necessary. I know recovery can seem like a long, drawn-out, and never-ending process. But there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel...when constant worrying can cease and pain can be a memory. I promise you it is indeed possible and I'm glad you have the hope in your head that it's true. You can get there. Don't want to be me--just want to be YOU recovered. I promise it will be just as good--actually, it will be better.

Hang in there.

Much love,