Wow, you look… different

For those of you who’ve known me a while, or who’ve shopped my Poshmark closet, you know I’ve been lots of different sizes in my life. I’ve been everywhere from a size 00 to a size 15, and everything in between. It’s only recently that I’ve stopped being embarrassed to talk about that.

Those who are pretty close to me know I have a history of anorexia. Those who are even closer know that, during my recovery from that eating disorder (during which time I simultaneously swapped addictions for alcohol), I gained more weight than I was comfortable with. In those years when I was at my high weight, I was pretty antisocial. I couldn’t deal with small talk, and I couldn’t deal with what I imagined to be judgment about my “new body.”

Since I’ve been sober, so many things have changed in my life. First off, I started pretty quickly dropping weight, just from the excess calories I was no longer taking in. That, of course, flipped the switch in my head, and it made me decide I could lose even faster if only I could go back to what I knew best: starving.

This lasted for a while, until my husband basically laid down the law. He had put up with plenty from me over our years together, but he wasn’t willing to watch me destroy myself. I naturally wasn’t willing to lose him over something as relatively simple as food, so I made him a promise: I would do it his way, to the best of my ability. My goal was still weight loss, but I would do it in the way most people successfully do it: moderate, smaller portions at regular intervals.

Damned if it didn’t work.

Now, six years after my diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, I’m finally at my “happy weight,” and I don’t worry that I need to lose more. In my opinion, there’s really no such thing as “fully recovered”; rather, a residue remains of the mental obsession, but the compulsive behaviors become easier to regulate. By that definition, I believe myself to be as recovered as I’m going to get. I’m fine with that.

I can thank sobriety for lots of things in my life, then. My “happy weight” tops the list. My tendency to isolate, too, has diminished. I find myself capable of and even looking forward to interactions with people, even people I don’t know. I made a new friend on this trip to Daytona Beach, all because I’m no longer intimidated by the idea that I might be scrutinized.

It’s doable. People have been telling me all along that it’s possible, and I had been too skeptical, or too frightened, or too stubborn, or too something, to believe them. Now that I believe it myself, I just want to pass the message along. It’s not easy, but it is simple. It’s a series of decisions, which I am capable of making. It’s empowering to know I can make healthy choices, which in turn will make me happier.

If you’re struggling, you’re capable, too. If you don’t believe me now, I hope a day comes when you will, and you’ll come back and tell me, so I can high-five you, and let you know I’m proud of you for loving yourself enough to trust your own intuition.

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