“I seem less stable and more messy when I’m really getting better because I’m breaking down the facade of perfectionism and denial.”
This just might be my new favorite quote of all time and I'm a quote-lover so this is kind of a big deal.
When I first entered treatment and began the recovery process, I did feel - for lack of a better word - crazy. The shock of ending all eating disordered and other destructive behaviors left me to deal with all of my underlying issues that I had been avoiding for years. My identity felt like it was being stolen from me. Who was I without an eating disorder?
And let's not forget that I was hospitalized, which of course meant I had to be messy and unstable. Deep down I knew I needed help and recovery forced me to face my broken soul. The temper tantrums and nonstop crying were proof that I must really need to be in this loony bin. There are many days during recovery where the inability to control my emotions has made me cynical of the whole process.
As difficult as it may be to understand, in the beginning of recovery, life with the eating disorder does seem better than life without it.
But don't be fooled.
By slowly beginning to break down that facade of perfectionism, a much more carefree life is left to be discovered. Without my eating disorder, I often felt lost and completely exposed to the world around me, but sometimes a shock like that is needed in order to jump start such a daunting process. Sometimes we do need to take a few steps back before we can take a step forward.
By letting go of perfectionism, I have been forced to see the world in shades of gray. Over the years I have become an expert at being self critical when I do not meet my own standards, so learning to express kindness toward myself has been completely foreign at times. In order to let go of my perfectionistic thoughts I have been forced to become aware of my self critical thoughts, practice self compassion, and examine my irrational fears of failure. None of these things happens over night, but I have found that after that "crazy stage" my inner perfectionist has slowly eased up.
Denial - For so long I was being unrealistic about my eating disorder even though it was clear to others that I was struggling. In order to face my denial I had to be honest about my emotions for the first time in my life. At first I remember feeling guilty for allowing myself to reach such an incredible low and it was simply easier to deny, ignore, and refuse to believe I needed help. Just like my perfectionism, with time as I slowly faced my past, that denial was lifted.
Recovery is a messy process and I have learned that it is perfectly okay (and normal) to feel worse before it is possible to feel better. It is important to remember that the only way to begin self discovery is to face the aspects of life holding us back. Most importantly, I am pretty excited to finally see that I am not less stable or messier than anyone else on the road to self discovery - thanks to my new favorite quote.