Thursday, May 03, 2012 - Comments 0
By Valerie Cunningham
Today is my 6th anniversary in recovery from my Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa. This date represents so much more to me than eating three square meals a day. Rather, it symbolizes new life, freedom, and truth. However, of the last six years, this past one has by far been the most challenging. That’s probably why I am finding it so difficult to find something worth celebrating. In anticipation of this anniversary, I have spent many moments contemplating the last 365 days, and what good I could draw from them.
As this day approached, I have experienced feelings of deep regret and downright sadness that this last year was such a struggle. The lows certainly outweighed the highs. Eating Disorder thoughts flew rampant and temptation to give into old behaviors and habits were prevalent. In many ways, I felt that my failures were a reflection of me and were a detriment to my recovery, of which I have fought so diligently.
Last week, I shared these sentiments with my trustworthy dietician, and without missing a beat, she reinforced some truths about recovery.
It is important not to have the expectation that recovery is perfect. It isn’t black or white, or all-or-nothing. She reminded me that even when I dabbled in some unhealthy choices this past year, I owned it instead of minimizing it. I was assertive, which in the end only supported my recovery. That’s what recovery is about.
The silver lining of recovery is that when you notice those Eating Disorder behaviors crop up, you ask yourself, “What do I need to do about this?” This year I had a harder time holding on to health and the belief that recovery is possible. But in the end, I didn’t let go.
Recovery is about the process, not the product; it is about progress, not perfection.
Thankfully, today my perspective is clearer than it has been the past several weeks, due to the sage counsel from my dietician. I am also forever grateful for the handful of friends, who not only commemorate the significance of May 3rd, but have faithfully been my cheerleaders as I continue on this race.
Six years ago today, as I tearfully entered the halls of the treatment facility, I came face to face with a plaque inscribed with this verse from Philippians 1:6: “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”
Valerie Cunningham is a wife and homeschool mom. She is in her 6th year of recovery from a 22 year battle with anorexia. Currently she leads a support group for disordered eaters at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.