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.