National eating disorders awareness week happened a few weeks ago.
As usual this year, I missed it.
Believe it or not, this is a good thing.
Anorexia and bulimia ate up (horrid pun intended) at least one-third of my useful life to date, so it is nice to forget it even exists for a few days or weeks or months at a time now and again.
Although I did find the breaking and mending process - a multi-decade saga - quite useful indeed.
During those decades, I discovered just how low a human being can sink in her own esteem. I learned all about rocks, hard places and the possibility of needing to gnaw off your own arm, or leg, or brain, to get free.
I found out that there are no impossible challenges, just impossible-feeling choices.
I also realized that the eating disorder had nothing but time. Lucky for me, so did I.
So I turned my attention away from getting very good at getting sicker and channeled it in its entirety towards getting very good at getting better.
I was pretty good at staying sick, in hind sight. But at healing, well, I was a rock star.
I have proof. I'm here. And I know I'm recovered.
(If you are reading this and want to learn more about the breaking and mending part, I wrote a book about that. It is now out of print. But of course Amazon still has copies. Because Amazon has everything.)
Last I checked, which I will admit was a few years ago now, the "recovering" versus "recovered" debate was still raging.
I was never very interested in this debate because semantics like these can keep my brain very busy and self-important so it never has to tackle the actual hard work of recovering or staying recovered, whichever term may resonate more on any given day.
Also, truthfully, in my experience both terms are very relevant. Like the five stages of grief and many other mostly useful structures, sometimes we vacillate.
But then sometimes we cross over a line that is so clear, so obvious, so un-missable in every way, that one term finally "sticks" for good.
Then we can personally self-identify with that term and other folks who are also in that camp. But it doesn't mean the other term has suddenly become invalid. It just means it doesn't apply to us personally anymore.
That was what happened to me.
Several years ago, long after I wrote my book and founded MentorCONNECT and considered myself to be "in recovery" in a really solid way, I signed myself up for a multi-day retreat.
When I enrolled myself, I didn't know the agenda or daily schedule. I only knew the speakers and the location. But I signed up anyway, because sometime I do things like that when my gut tells me to do them.
As it turned out, the retreat included a "surprise" extended fast.
Boy was I surprised.
The first day of the fast, I thought to myself, "oh good, a test. I can do this." (I also knew I had snack bars in my room if I discovered I couldn't do this. And the staff told us that they had snack bags for anyone who couldn't or just didn't want to attempt the fast.)
The second day of the fast, I thought to myself, "oh shit. But I can do this." That night I woke up in the middle of the night feeling extremely nauseated and woozy. I ate half a snack bar and went back to sleep, reassuring myself that in just a few hours I could eat breakfast. Because I was sure the fast would be over by then.
The third day of the fast, I didn't think. I Immediately burst into tears and went running to the staff to explain my situation. They offered me a snack bag. I declined.
And THAT WAS WHEN IT HIT ME.
That was THE MOMENT I knew I was "recovered." Period. The End. As in, never, ever again.