By Asaka Kaneda
But…do I really want to recover?
Throughout the past years filled with multiple attempts at recovery, it was always this same, tenacious thought that would throw me off the path. Knowing that you need to let go versus actually letting go of your eating disorder — if only one was as easy as the other. For me personally, the ‘knowing’ part was never actually the issue. Though it may have taken me many years to open up to others that I struggled with an eating disorder, my own mind and gut knew it much earlier on. Just a few months into my neurotic regimen of extreme restriction and over-exercising, deep down, I knew. I was already well aware that my habits were something much more serious than ‘just a phase’. Whilst the lack of recognition towards one’s own eating disorder may be a key issue for many, this wasn't the case for me. I knew for years that I had an eating disorder; I knew all along.
I can be honest with myself today and admit what the issue actually was: I couldn’t — and didn't — wholeheartedly want to recover. As mentally and physically strenuous it was each day to struggle through life with an eating disorder, the thought of letting go of it was far more frightening and difficult to face. I knew what recovery meant, and I knew what it would be asking of me. It would mean that I would have to accept that the body that I had until then, wasn't mine to keep anymore. Every pound that I’d shed through the years that I had spent faint with hunger and obsessing over what I'd consumed. Every muscle on my body that I’d worked so hard to tweak from my often absurd workout regimen — I would have to bid farewell to it all.
But I did. I let it go.
I leave no room for sugarcoating; by no means was the path easy, nor was it linear. Time and time again when I would ask myself if letting go was what I really wanted, I would cave to the voices that would convince me otherwise. Just when I thought I had succeeded in leaving my numerous contorted, self-deprecating thoughts and habits in my past for good, I would find myself overcome by doubt. In my discomfort of beginning to transition into my new body with all of its unfamiliar sizes and proportions, I would second guess my decision in choosing to recover, and inevitably fall back into the dark caverns of relapse.
But I did it. I finally let go.
And I can say today, with utmost confidence, that the value of everything that I have gained in its place is just worth so, so much more. I can now spontaneously go out for dinner and drinks with friends, instead of being panic stricken and instantly scheming for reasons to decline an invite. On the mornings that I am tired, I sleep in and rest, instead of forcing myself into the gym out of fear of ‘losing progress’. No longer do I live everyday in fear of facing the guilt of ‘falling off the wagon’, as the wagon itself doesn't exist anymore.
The thought of this liberation felt so distant and out of reach for so long, but after all these years, it has finally become my reality. The thing is, the answer that I can admit to be the truth today was right there in front of me all along.
But…do I really want to let go?
Yes. Yes, I do. I want to recover. In order for me to regain my life, I need to let go.
Asaka is a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia, where she pursued her interests in Sociology and Gender Relations. Having spent much of her student life fighting and recovering in silence from eating disorders, she has now found her passion in reflecting and writing on her personal past experiences. She hopes that her recollections will both provide support to those who are suffering, as well as spread awareness on the largely overlooked, stigmatized issues surrounding eating disorders.