Here is a sentence I am somewhat glad to have discovered after a year of recovery. If I had come across it any sooner, it might have really terrified me. The concept of having to change the way you think has to be scary for everyone. How can't it? The way we think is precisely who we are. And when we normally think of "change," we may only think of shuffling the circumstances around us--locations, jobs, friends, maybe even habits to a certain extent. But not us. Not what comprises us at the core.
The idea that I would have to change the way I think in order to survive might have been too much for me earlier on. But now that I have actually done some of this housecleaning of ideas I have carried with me my entire life, the concept doesn't seem too big or brutal. Some examples:
1. I have my shit together.
One of the first gifts I got out of program was the profound realization that this is as untrue for me as it is for every single person on the planet. Not one person has all of their shit together, no matter how much they protest otherwise. There is always something beyond our control, something to perhaps work on. My something was of course my disease and the effects it had on my body and mind. I always pushed it to the side when evaluating how together I was. Everything else in my life was working for me, except oh yeah, that. All the while, that was my health! It was the quality of my life itself. And I ignored it. I had to ignore it if I were to convince myself that everything was fine.
2. I can get whatever I want out of life if I work hard enough.
My dad raised me with this idea of ambition. I never thought of it as a sense of entitlement because it implied earning and struggling for your goals. But its fatal flaw is that it leaves out the idea of all the things you can't control. Earning and struggling do not guarantee success. They only put you in the running for it. And some the things you want out of life may just be impossible. I, for example, wanted to eat my feelings and not die from it. I wanted to live the way I wanted to live without consequence. As much as I wanted this and as much as I struggled against life to make it so, it just never happened. How I wish I could have had a better understanding of this when trying to find a job or a boyfriend. The patience it would have granted me, to know that there is only so much I can control in pursuit of my goals, would have saved me so much heartbreak.
3. This is the way I was meant to live.
I can't exactly remember when I resigned to the idea of being fat forever. As a kid, I always fantasized about coming back to school after a summer of thinning out and growing into an entirely new body. After all, that actually does happen to some kids in puberty so I wasn't completely far off in my thinking. Year after year of that not happening, I eventually realized that it never would. That I would have to actually work hard to be a normal size. Immediately came the intense fear of that struggle and the rejection of it. I would not kill myself to be thin. I would not give up my way of life just to "conform." So I accepted myself. And I eventually learned to love myself. While that was important and I have no regrets about it, it did keep me sick. It took way too much evidence to finally convince me that I was not meant to kill myself with food. I was not destined for a deformed body and a barrage of health problems. My way of life was just a way of dying and much too soon.