The truth is, I often hate the physical aspects of recovery.
The night sweats.
The hunger pains.
The food cravings.
The breakouts of acne.
The delayed gastric re-emptying.
The constipation and diarrhea.
And my ever-changing body, including, The “Buddha” Belly.
This was the first time I attempted recovery.
And it got worse. Although I didn’t restore any weight that time around — in fact, I lost a few pounds — I experienced several of the physical signs of recovery.
Besides the night sweats, my ankles swelled up with edema and my face broke out with acne. I was constipated, but there was no way my doctor was going to prescribe me a laxative because of my prior history of abusing them. My head hurt, and my concentration was shot.
I was hungry, and it scared me.
I stopped eating most foods after that one-week stay on a psychiatric unit. It would take several more years before I would truly commit to recovery, and the first step was eat and regaining weight.
The theory is that we all have a set point weight, the weight in which our bodies settle naturally and easily without restriction or binging. The weight that we are genetically programmed to be. The weight that we feel the most comfortable being, and the weight, for the majority of anorexics, that we no longer are tormented by eating disorder thoughts or urges.
It has taken me years to allow myself to eat to reach that weight. Each time, I would go so far, only to stop because I was both mentally and physically unready.
It probably sounds vain, but I most hated the “Buddha” belly and acne that came with eating healthy again. I mean, I am in my forties and I am still struggling with acne. Seriously??? Wasn’t I suppose to be done with that already?
And my belly. I absolutely loved having a concave stomach. So when it grew exponentially in relation to my weight gain, I was horrified. I wanted my anorexic stomach back.
Sometimes I still want my anorexic stomach back.
I often wonder why many anorexics, including myself, relapse again and again. While anorexia is a complex illness with multiple causes, I am convinced that that often the physical aspects of recovery are often a trigger for relapse.
Who wants to have a huge belly and zits? Who wants to have swollen legs and constipation? Why would anyone embrace what amounts to puberty years after the fact?
I still miss the size zero jeans at times, the fact that I thought I looked like a waif when really I only looked hideous. I go shopping, only to look longingly at the cute little mini-skirts that wouldn’t even fit over one of my thighs now.
Even the fact that I now have breasts still bothers me at times. I mean, buying sexy lingerie is great and all, but bras can be uncomfortable and I still miss the days where I could get away with wearing a camisole.
But it’s no longer worth it. The price of anorexia is too high.
So I move forward, and for the most part, I am happy with my new figure. I look like a woman now. I am proud of my body, grateful for its beauty and strength.