To the people who were my friends when I was sick, and to the people who have continued to get smaller while I’ve gotten bigger:
My body has changed a lot, I feel this strange desire to say that off the bat even though it’s physically obvious.
Sometimes my eating disorder will get worried about what other people think when they see me after a few years. Whispers of “she’s gained weight,” and “she looks different,” circle in my head as I try to remind myself that my physical appearance is not the most important thing about me.
That’s hard to remember when our culture acts like it is.
My idea of recovery has changed a lot, too, over time. Sure, there were moments in my life where I wasn’t at “my worst,” but the way I see it now is that *any* bit of dieting, *any* bit of exercising for reasons other than enjoyment is a step back in my recovery.
It’s hard to the be the person going against the grain–the woman who is not trying to fit into the same clothes she wore in high school and the woman not concerned with getting a “summer body.”
When I see people I know engaging in those behaviors and mindlessly fitting themselves into diet culture, sometimes there’s a split second where I wonder if there’s something wrong with me.
It feels like I’m doing my best to balance recovery, graduate school, internships, a relationship with my fiancé and my friends and family, and other people only see that I’m not in my sick body any more. They overlook the main aspects of my life in exchange for a judgement about how my body has changed since the last time they say me.
Some people might think I’m crazy for being okay with weight gain. Some people that don’t understand eating disorders will read this post and think “but how could you be okay with just letting your body gain weight?”
It’s not always that simple. Recovery or not, I still live in a culture that values our physical appearance and our ability to be thin, small, delicate women more than our brains, our motivation, and our goals.
The truth about my changing body is that yes, I am in a bigger body than I was before, but I’ve gained a life that is better than what I ever imagined would come with recovery.
I see photos of people I used to know on instagram, and I see their bodies getting smaller with whatever fad diet or workout class they’re using this week, and I wonder what they think when they see the way my body has changed since high school, since college, since graduation.
If you were to scroll through the metaphorical instagram feed of my life over the last few years you would see the same girl, the same smile, but in a body that’s gotten bigger, a life that’s gotten bigger, and an eating disorder that has gotten smaller.
You’d see that I cannot fit into the same clothes I wore in high school (or even three years ago), and you’d see that sometimes the way my body has changed makes me feel lost.
Over the last few years I’ve allowed my body to make the decisions, to decide when I need to eat, what I need to eat, and how much I need to eat. I’ve stopped controlling my intake with thoughts of “that isn’t healthy,” and I’ve learned how to move my body in ways that don’t feel like torture.
Sometimes giving up control makes us feel lost, but in the long run, giving up the control over my body has given me more brain space for more important things, like painting and music and reading and splitting a bottle of wine with my friend after a homemade dinner.
I know that some people might look at the way my body has changed and think “she let herself go,” because I’m not constantly fighting to get smaller or trying to wear the same size of pants from junior year.
But I hope that when people see me, when they notice that my body is bigger, they realize that my life is, too.