Thursday, July 15, 2010

"A reminder that there is always some promise in destruction:"

Identity is a very loaded word for those recovering from eating disorders. When I was at my sickest, I defined myself only by my disease. I was anorexic. Period. I spent the majority of my time improving up on it and sharpening my skills as if I was mastering a musical instrument or conquering a second language. I poured all of my time and energy into being the sickest, skinniest, best anorexic that I could be, and anorexia accepted everything I handed over without offering anything positive in return.

Now in recovery, like many others in the same position, I am left wondering how to define myself. I am just a girl? 26 years old and I still can't call myself a woman. Honestly, I don't feel like one. I feel as insecure and dependent upon others as I did when I was a child. I certainly don't feel the same sense of ownership of the label "anorexic" as I used to. If I walked down the street no one would whisper, "She's anorexic." I'm not that thin anymore. I'm not that sick anymore. All in all, I'm guess maybe I'm just normal. I used to say there is nothing that terrified me more. I am thankful for my health and thankful for my ability to overcome. But is it bad that I also feel naked without the label anorexic to hide behind?

I am reading a very wonderful collection of essays by Eula Biss called Notes from No Man's Land. It has nothing to do with eating disorders specifically, but it has everything to do with life. In her essay, "Babylon" she says that the fall of the city of Babylon is[...] "A reminder that there is always some promise in destruction." I think there is much truth in that statement. Though I certainly would have never chosen to develop an eating disorder, I can see how it has made me a better person. There was promise in my destruction. There was some beauty in it too. But the good thing is that I have been rebuilt.

Stronger. Better. More beautiful.

I may not be perfect, and I may never be, but that's okay.

I am not in ruins.

I am brand new.


  1. thanks for this post. i have struggled with my own identity for most of my life, and where the ED is concerned, it's a what-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg kind of deal. not knowing myself helped me develop an ED, and developing the ED helped me to continue not knowing myself.

    now that i'm in recovery it is a matter of finally making an effort to get to know myself.

    it's a relief to read your words and know that i'm not alone!

  2. Thank you, Caroline. My experience is very similar to what you described. You are definitely not alone!

    Best wishes to you and your recovery. Here is to discovering ourselves and loving the people that we are, even if we aren't quite sure what that means just yet.