Transformation Tuesday: Doing the Impossible
“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”-Alice in Wonderland
In recovery, this is me. Things I once deemed impossible, never will live to see or do, never become with the anorexia, I think up early in the morning. To the anorexia, they are silly and pointless to even let cross my mind. They will never happen. It won’t allow it. But to recovery, the impossible is possible. These thoughts are of hope and joy. They are created by faith for I cannot see what lies ahead but I have all the hope in the world great things will happen and believe they will in my heart.
I make a mental list of all the “impossible” things I am going to do that day. I don’t call them impossible because they are not doable, not able to be achieved in this moment. I call them impossible because not too long ago walking through life hand in hand with the anorexia, they truly were unable to be done. They say nothing is impossible, but clearly those people never lived with a mental disorder. Things truly do become too difficult to do. The anorexia placed such restrictions on my life, wrapped my mind in chains, handcuffed me with rules and regulations, imprisoned me in hate and no self-worth so I would be faced with no temptation to try great things. I was undeserving of going after my dreams, and my dreams consisted of things not allowed by the anorexia-eating, fun, laughter, friends, pleasure, hope. But by committing to recovery, I vowed that it was time to start doing the impossible. I was going to do things every day to completely defy the anorexia.
I can’t even begin to describe how it feels when you do something you never once believed would ever be possible again and when you start partaking in life again. It was those events that sparked my faith and hope in the process. They restored my belief that a life beyond the anorexia truly does exist. Each event was a milestone for me. Once just dreams, they were now reality. Nothing compares to getting your life back and experiencing this renewal of it and yourself a little bit every day.
I will never forget the Christmas season I allowed myself to partake in my advent calendar. For the years with the anorexia, I would buy one but give the chocolate to everyone else. I would excitedly find the day, eagerly open the flap to see what shape the chocolate would be, and then be overcome with sadness as I handed the chocolate to my mom or threw it away. I would watch others partake in what should have been my joy. Choosing recovery for me meant letting myself eat every single one of those twenty five pieces of candy. It meant me experiencing once again the things the anorexia robbed from my life. It took away my delight so it could have it all for itself. Each one of those chocolates represented a step towards recovery and one further from the anorexia. Every day I let myself taste those pieces of pure goodness was a representation of being one day closer to a life of recovery. They were stripping the anorexia of its power and hold over me.
I remember my first time going into a dressing room after choosing recovery. There was no fear. There were no tears. There was no defeat standing there staring at myself. I went in by myself. The anorexia did not accompany me. It had no input over what clothes I liked or how I looked in them. I gave it no opinion. All that mattered was what the authentic me thought and felt. I had fun trying on clothes and seeing what styles I loved and looked good on me. I made it an enjoyable experience. If I wasn’t pleased with how something fit or looked on me, I made it a conscious effort to not dwell on it and focus instead on what I did like. I was texting a very close friend of mine the whole time for support if I started to feel any negative thoughts creep in. I gave myself a reason to laugh the whole time even if it was at myself as I was attempting to put my head through the sleeve of a dress or found myself looking like Big Bird in this obnoxiously yellow dress.
I remember the first time buying something without a nutrition label and eating it spontaneously. It wasn’t in my meal plan for the day. It was an extra that I felt I wanted to treat myself with because it looked good and because I had no reason to deprive myself of something I desired. I walked into a bakery and bought myself a treat- A delectable, chewy, freshly baked peanut butter cookie. I ate it outside in the gorgeous weather fully letting myself take in all the splendor and joy of that day. I ate without guilt. I ate savoring every bite smiling as I chewed. I ate by myself, no anorexia accompanying me at the table. It was serenity. I remember walking away from that experience crying but tears of gratitude, love, hope, happiness. I walked away carrying myself with such confidence. I did what the anorexia told me would be impossible and I survived it.
I remember the first time allowing myself to take communion. With the anorexia, even if it was a tiny piece of bread and a mere sip of juice, it was more calories I did not need. It was not in my meal plan. I was not allowed to have more than my allotted amount for the day. Anorexia was working overtime to convince me that the juice and bread would make me gain weight. Illogical? Yes. Extreme thinking? Absolutely. But that is the nature of the anorexia. Every little thing is magnified and catastrophized. You need to be overly cautious and extremely particular and exact with everything. Taking a random bite or sample of food was always forbidden. At one point, an extra piece of sugar free gum was absolutely unacceptable. I believed that five calories would result in a higher number on the scale the next day. This rule kept me extremely trapped and limited. I was confined by these walls the anorexia built in my mind, separating me from life, happiness, enjoyment, and most importantly, God. I defied this rule the day I took communion. The anorexia had no power in that moment. There was no debate going on or reluctance as I walked to the table whether I was doing the wrong thing. There was no obnoxious voice trying to belittle me and convince me of the damage this would do to my body. There was no force trying to stop me. I was absolutely free to do what I wanted.
So many things I can say I have done that I thought impossible; not weighing myself every day, no longer body checking and measuring myself, sharing my food with people, sticking to a shopping list and no longer hoarding food, walking through a grocery store with no obsessive thoughts, looking at myself in a mirror and smiling, conquering rituals, getting the chance to stand in front of the congregation praying because of all I have been able to overcome. I made a box to put in all of these moments, something to contain them and have them on record to look back on in time of struggle to see how far I have come. They served as constant reminders that nothing was impossible in recovery. If any doubt crept in over me being able to the impossible, I would look back on those moments and hope would rise within me, faith would be restored.
Those are just a few moments our of countless ones and brief descriptions of what were life changing experiences for me and marked huge progress in my recovery. These are things people do every day without thought but for me, became impossible tasks or ones I could no longer do without the eating disorder having complete control over it. I never let any of those moments go unnoticed and never will as more come. These are the times I catch myself truly loving the idea of life and full of such gratitude towards God for keeping me alive. These were the days I would catch myself being in denial that this was my life because of how amazing it was. I never thought I would be so blessed. I never thought I would ever see and experience those moments. I once used to end my day in tears and dread over the next rise of the sun. Now I end it with smiles and pure excitement over what the next day would hold. It is a beautiful life. And it is a life that EVERYONE can have. I know many right now in the place of great struggle, and my hope is that this blog can give those people and anyone else reading some light. The impossible CAN become possible again. Do not give up.
So what impossible are you going to do today?
Love, light, and bravery, J.L.