Sunday, May 5, 2013

Eating Disorder Language

  Please tell me I'm not the only one who took years of Spanish in grade school, yet "hola" and "adios" are two of the only words I actually know how to use properly. Learning a foreign language is not easy and it can take years of practice to become fluent. Even when a person is considered fluent enough to communicate with those speaking another language, there will always be more words to learn. Often moving to a completely different culture that speaks this new language is the only way to become an expert. 

By comparing eating disorder recovery to learning a new language, outsiders can gain a tiny bit of perspective. Notice I said tiny bit. It's still a decent analogy though. I found this quote and thought it was perfect.

  "I used to speak through my eating disorder. 
It was my language. 
It was how I showed people I was hurting 
and in need of help, support and nurturing. 
I’m teaching myself a different language 
and it’s scary but it sure as hell beats 
destroying my body and mind."

I used to absolutely speak through my eating disorder. If I was feeling anxious I would binge, purge, restrict, or drink too much. Over the years, I taught myself the lingo included in isolation and avoidance. I spoke words of manipulation as a way to cover up my devious eating disordered behaviors and to convince others I was fine. My fake smile was my most frequently used form of nonverbal communication; if others thought everything in my life was great, I could continue to live in my own sick little world.

Behind closed doors I was a disaster. Almost every aspect of my life was crumbling before me and as a cry for help I continued to get sicker and sicker. Although I was not willing to admit it at the time, my behaviors were a plea for the attention I felt I deserved.

Recovery meant learning a foreign language and I knew I could not do it alone.

As the quote states, teaching myself new forms of communication has been scary as hell. Instead of pretending like my life is perfect, I am now forced to speak up and come clean about things that are potentially triggering. Recovery has taught me to speak with honesty, self compassion, strength, and acceptance - all of which I had never really done before. 

The single most important aspect of my new recovery language has been honesty. Recovery has quickly taught me that if I cannot be honest with myself then there is no way I can be honest with my therapist and the rest of my support system.
With newly discovered self compassionate thoughts, I am doing my best to constantly tell myself that I am good enough.
My "can-do" attitude is not always present; however, I am teaching myself to converse with others who always help build up my strength.
Last, but certainly not least, by choosing to communicate with a higher level of acceptance for myself, my past, and my future in recovery, I finally feel like I can 'speak the recovery language' clearly.

In this moment, I am definitely not a fluent recovery speaker, but I am getting closer every single day.



  1. You said very well. And, my comment is, "yes"! Your recovery is very strong and beautiful. xoxo

    1. Thank you very much :) I hope you are doing great, too! xoxo

  2. Today in church I heard a song that made me full on bawl and it goes: "I am not who I was, I am being remade, I am new. I am chosen and holy, and I'm dearly loved, I am new."
    My post for the day was going to surround this song, but yours fits it even better! I couldn't think of anything better to say than what you said.
    Just remember that you are new, you're being remade, you are chosen and holy, and dearly loved; you are new. I'm so proud of you, Kelsi!
    Love you Rock Star! <3 xoxo

    1. Aw that is such a perfect song to start your Sunday with! There's a really good chance I would have been a balling mess too haha. It's it cool that simple daily things like that can inspire posts and make us think of recovery in a whole new light? :)

  3. LOVE this!
    the language of my ED fast became the only language i knew... when something went "wrong" i turned to my new language to tell me what to do. Bad day, restrict... Feel crappy, go exercise...
    But its now that i want to speak other languages (im still talking in metaphors here!) i realise how isolated ONLY hearing that one anorexic voice made me.

    Im excited to start learning new things, and of course... making progress :)

    and yup, i took spanish too. but i believe im one up on you, cos i know that "una cerveza" is a beer. hahahaha xx

    1. I am excited for you to start learning new things, too! It's a crazy time, but I hope you can learn to embrace it too. You totally on up me on the "una cerveza" word hahahaha. That made my day!! :)

  4. I really like the language analogy.

    My therapist used to tell me the way I talked about my ED was like it was my personal little pet or secret best friend. I spoke through it and channeled all my difficult emotions - sadness, loneliness, anxiety, even aggression (who knew sweet, passive me actually has a bit of a temper?!) I hid my emotions and behaviors yet desperately wanted people to notice I was suffering at the same time - then when when some of them actually did, I was humiliated and even offended. A very crazy, ineffective game in poor communication. I'm learning to speak my own voice more authentically with myself and others but it is tough - definitely a long process! Self compassion is a must, definitely. :)

    1. Good for you, Lindsay! That is so exciting :) I also found that my sweet, passive little self has a tempter too haha. It's not always easy to deal with in the beginning. It may have been a poor game of communication then, but I am so glad you are finding your voice again! :)

  5. Your posts are always so amazing! This hit home for me, especially the honestly point. It wasn't until I started being honest with myself that I started to heal. When I actually looked my behaviors in the eye, I could change them. Thanks for this post!

    1. I totally agree with you Tayla. It took me a long time to be honest too, but it really did change everything once I began doing so. Thanks for reading! :)