My concept of recovery is fluid. What I considered a successful day 9 years ago looks completely different than it does today.
Multiple times a week, I chose to walk the aisles of the grocery store in the middle of the night, avoiding other shoppers and preferring the company of other creatures of the early morning hours, feeling a comfort knowing that the stock boy with baggy jeans and Queens of the Stone Age blasting from his earbuds wouldn’t judge me as I carefully reviewed the labels of the scarce foods I trusted to put in my body.
In that time of my recovery I preferred to slip under the radar, to be invisible. That’s where my disease wanted me to stay because that’s where it held the most power over me. As long as I continued to isolate myself from the rest of the world, the eating disorder was in control.
Yoga showed me that I have a greater purpose in this world and allowed me to discover an identity beyond the eating disorder. It gave me self-confidence to re-connect with loved ones with whom I had become detached, and gave me permission to reveal to them the various vulnerabilities that arise throughout the recovery process.
By inviting me to connect my true self with my physical body, yoga was there to catch me before I could fall deeper into isolation, acting as a net below the emotional tightrope I had found myself balancing upon. What began as another exercise regimen became a recovery tool that transformed from treating my current circumstance, to healing years of emotional scars.
By allowing me to view my body as a conduit of strength, yoga taught me that I am worthy.
By simply stepping on my mat and honoring my mind and body where I am in that moment, I am serving myself.
Yoga taught me to love my body not for how my hips look in my yoga pants, but for its strength and general amazing-ness.
Most importantly, after years of fighting for control of my life, yoga taught me that I was never in control and I never will be. I found peace within myself once I released control.
My journey with an eating disorder is embedded into my life, like an olfactory memory that can be lifted up into my senses at a moment’s notice, only to float away with the breeze just as quickly.
Today a successful day is one that includes honoring my mind, body, and soul. It includes catching up with an authentic friend, finishing a project I’ve worked on tirelessly, journaling, exercising because I love the rush of endorphins that I feel afterward, and nourishing my body with foods that it craves.
I now see my recovery as an instrument in my arsenal of empathetic tools; it has provided me with the ability to embrace, cry, and laugh with strangers who instantly become yet another recovery warrior from whom I gain strength, hoping that I become the same to them as well.
Living an isolated life prevents one from giving themselves to another, and what a tragedy that is! The more we give, the more love our hearts are able to receive. By giving of myself and my story, I find so much strength within me, and in return, receive abundant love from those around me. My recovery continues, and it is my hope that it never ends.
This post was originally published as part of YBIC’s monthly column that highlights how the practice of yoga can be an integral component in the effective treatment of and on-going recovery from eating disorders and disordered eating. You can find it on the YBIC website here.