I feel like in the eating disorder recovery community there is often huge pressure to be "perfect" and to do recovery the "right" way. I fall victim to this way too often.
Perfectionism is one of the major temperaments of people with eating disorders. It's one of the things that causes a lot of behaviors to become so extreme. I know for me it stems from the "not good enough" narrative that is unfortunately a broken record in my head all the time. We all strived to be "perfect" in our eating disorders, which was just a guise from ED to get sicker. So it makes a lot of sense that it's easy to get caught up in the idea of "perfect" recovery.
What would recovery look like if it were possibly perfect? For me, it would mean having been "sick enough" to have to go to a higher level of care. Once there, I'd obviously struggle with normalizing eating and reducing behaviors, but I'd struggle just "enough". I'd be able to start breaking free of behaviors early on, and would be stable quickly. From there, I'd be able to jump right into working through the hard emotional stuff. I'd be able to confront my past, those who hurt me, and the demons still sticking around.. And the food, oh the food. Every meal would be a challenge, a fear food. And I would totally kick ass at having these foods. I would never feel guilt for these meals, or it would be just the "right amount" of guilt. I would laugh it off with a "fuck you ED" and call it a #recoverywin.
If I was perfect at recovery, I would love my recovery body so much. I would be able to "embrace the squish" and write brave posts on social media about how much I love my new body and how much my body can do for me. I would instantly turn into this big, happy, eating disorder and recovery advocate. I would inspire millions and everything would be so happy, easy, and carefree.
OKAY, SO WAIT A MINUTE. On top of recovery basically happening instantly after starting treatment, it's also supposed to be easy and carefree? Give me a break. What about all of the hard and scary and uncomfortable stuff? Do we just skip over that in a "perfect" recovery, pretend that part isn't important or necessary to healing?
I think my recovery right now, as it is, is perfectly imperfect. Some days I do feel lighter and carefree, like a girl in a tampon commercial. (Just so you know, I wrote this and typed it at a later date and made myself laugh out loud, so I'll take that as a little recovery win). And other days, I still feel like I'm sifting through murky waters, trying to keep my head above the water. Some days I get little glimpses of the Charlotte I'm starting to remember. This girl was wildly creative, and wanted to create things without the fear of what others thought about what she made. She is passionate as hell, and an empath with a big heart. This person keeps peaking through, like lights coming in, getting brighter every day that I'm in and choose recovery. I want to be that girl.
And yes, I'm still struggling with some of my meals, and a lot of the days my body image is a mess. There are days that I just feel sad or like crying, and I haven't even touched the hard, trauma stuff yet.
And yet, all things considered, that makes it perfect. I am here. I am showing up. I am fully committing to recovery and a new life. So of course it's imperfect, but I can't let the fear of imperfection hold me back from healing and living fully and authentically.
Hi, I'm Charlotte! I'm a 24 year old navigating life in NYC and mental health recovery. I am passionate about public health and eliminating stigma.