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.