We hope you enjoy the final of this five-part guest blog series from one of our OPC alumna – sharing a glimpse inside her path of recovery and lessons learned along the way. We are continually inspired by all of our women and are proud to share this post with you, our readers. To read the first, second, third, and fourth posts please visit the preceding links.
A few weeks after I left Oliver-Pyatt Centers, I received a text from my mom, “Martha made reservations at a French restaurant at 6. We will be there at 1 for lunch.” I’d had a stressful week already, and, of course, I panicked. (Yes, that can still happen in recovery.) Work had been especially dull; I was probably having body image insecurity; my parents were driving up for the weekend – and French cuisine is known for its richness.
I began madly texting a friend explaining the situation – mainly I knew the anxiety over it would make me snippy and evasive. I would want to get something “healthier” (read: less caloric) for lunch because of the dinner plans, but my parents would start worrying if I did. I didn’t want to be rude, but that’s how I express anxiety. Especially toward my parents. Then suddenly this crazy plan came to me. It seemed kind of hair-brained, but I thought it just might work. I could tell them the truth, “I don’t mean to be snappish, but I am anxious about going out to lunch at 1 and then going out for French food early.” But, who does that? You don’t expose eating-disordered thoughts. You lie about them, right?
I told my mom and did not get the response I was hoping for. (I am not even sure there was a response I wanted.) But it didn’t matter. I felt better because I had told the truth. I would rather be judged for the reality, which was that some eating disordered thoughts had resurfaced temporarily, than think their daughter is just mean spirited and snippy.
So many of these moments have happened throughout recovery. Times when I would have lied to get out of intimidating social situations, but instead told someone that I was anxious, and went anyway. I am probably the most candid person at work, which makes people want to tell me things. And I have even been open about my eating disorder with a few of them, not because I want them to feel obligated to look out for me (that wouldn’t be fair,) but as a point of connection. To say, “This is what makes me vulnerable and therefore human.”
It is difficult to describe the difference it makes to walk through the world without needing to spin an ever-growing web of lies. Trying to remember how to avoid trapping yourself is exhausting, and the reality is as I tried to remember every little section of thread I’d spun, everyone else could see the web for what it was… a gigantic shroud of deception.
I believe most people with eating disorders inherently are not liars. In fact, I’d say it is the opposite. But suddenly, there is no choice but to lie to cover up this thing you know others would try to take from you if you didn’t. One of the greatest parts of recovery for me was realizing that regardless of how anyone else might react to it I had regained the right to tell the truth.
For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and our newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine,a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please subscribe to our blog, visit our website, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.