Nov. 17, 2016, 6:25 p.m.
My road to recovery from disordered eating hasn't been linear. During my process, there were several periods of time where I physically appeared 'stable' to my friends and family. However inside my mind lived a monster of nemesis thinking. These times, when physically recovered from the detrimental consequences, were some of the toughest times to navigate because I hadn't reached an emotional equilibrium or addressed any of the deeper seeded emotions that caused me to seek comfort in depriving myself of nutrients.
When I was in a full-blown relationship with disordered eating the tyranny of negativity that stemmed from my nemesis thinking was outwardly displayed in my emaciated body. After I was weight restored, I still harbored the same thought patterns for years, but my suffering was not visible.
During these years in many ways, I was doing much 'better' than my days of living in treatment programs. I graduated from University, traveled abroad, forged new friendships, dated and entered my first serious relationship.
These years were, however, the hardest years of my recovery. I found these years to be more painful than the heart monitors, hospital appointments, and any combination of treatment program I had been in because I was consistently challenged with learning forgiveness.
The hardest piece of my recovery was learning that forgiveness is for giving and that we all need to give ourselves this gift from time to time.
Leaving treatment and entering a world of new friendships, romantic relationships and academic obligations presented a consistent reminder that for over a decade I had been checked out and only attuned to my self-hatred and toxic relationship with my body.
Each day I was presented with the brave choice to give myself forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an essential part of recovery. Forgiveness is how we experience healing and gratitude. Until we truly and fully forgive, we remain locked in our suffering and locked out of the possibility of experiencing freedom. Forgiveness is how we achieve real, deep, and lasting wellness.
It took me years to release the resentments I held. I would flutter from hating how my weight restored body looked and the team of practitioners who helped restore my physical health to feeling utterly grateful for living in a healthy body and their help. I would experience shifting from being
in sheer agony over feeling victimized by the behaviours that had prevented me from engaging in life to feeling overjoyed with being symptom-free. One minute, I would be angry at my partner for triggering me and the next moment I was filled with gratitude that I enjoyed cooking with them.
It took a long time to climb out of the trenches of disordered eating mentally. It happened years after being weight restored and appearing 'stable' physically to my friends and family. It was only with time and experience that I learned how important it was to let go of these resentments, fits of anger, and hurts. To truly move on, I needed to forgive.
I needed to forgive who I was in the traumas, dramas, and experiences that laid the groundwork for my self-hatred. I needed to forgive my dependence on the people around me who perpetuated the disorder. I would also learn that I needed to forgive the nature of the disease itself—the obsessions, compulsions, and the process of recovery.
Recovery isn't linear, and it won't be the same process for any two people. But we all deserve to experience self-forgiveness.
Regardless of what part of your recovery journey you are in, giving yourself the gift of forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself - you truly deserve this gift.
Ailey Jolie is current student working towards a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology. She has personal experiences with the world of eating disorders which drives her passion for helping others through their own recovery process. You can find Ailey's website here.