We hope you enjoy the third of a five-part guest blog series from one of our OPC alumna – sharing a glimpse inside her path of recovery and lessons learned along the way. We are continually inspired by all of our women and are proud to share this post with you, our readers.
Giving up an eating disorder is, in many ways, giving up an identity. It becomes so all-consuming that it’s inevitable your friends will start to whisper behind your back, “Yea, she’s the anorexic one.” Which is embarrassing and shameful. But, after a while, it becomes familiar. At least you’re something.
Before I became the <whispers> “one with the eating disorder” I was “The Trapeze Artist.” God, I loved that! But when I injured myself and was no longer able to fly, I still so desperately wanted an identity – something interesting and memorable. So, even though I was ashamed of it, I latched on to the all-encompassing eating-disordered girl option.
Choosing to stay in recovery means giving up that title and, at least for a while, being someone who can’t be summed up in a three word packaged tag line. It is harder to describe me now: “She’s the one with the curly hair, glasses, kinda quirky. Talks quickly, from New York or Boston or somewhere on the East Coast where she apparently didn’t like the weather…” That’s how I imagine people describing me, but I don’t really know what anyone chooses to highlight anymore, which is incredibly disconcerting.
It has taken a long time to convince myself that having an eating disorder was never what made me interesting. In fact, it’s what made me uninteresting because I had to do everything the same way every day and I lost my sense of adventure. I was nothing but an empty title – like a pair of ugly sunglasses that have a high-end label, so you wear them anyway for the brand name, ignoring the fact that they make you look like a walking bug.
But in writing this stream of consciousness post, I realized it is kind of fun to try to describe myself in a free-flowing way - not knowing exactly where it’s going to go: “Recovering journalist turned communications writer?” “The 27 year old who wears old lady shoes and chooses to take the train to work and walk from the station?” “The one who’s only been to Hollywood once and never plans to go again?” “The one who unabashedly over-punctuates everything she puts in writing?” “The one who blindly decided to move across the country on a whim without knowing anybody…”
The choices are infinite, and everyone will have a different description – some positive, some negative, and some more apt than others.
But in a way I like that. It leaves room for more possibilities.