This post was written and submitted by Chelsea Benjamin. Connect with Chelsea on Instagram @chelbizzle and @itsallcycles or at www.itsallcycles.com
Recovery smacked me in the face and told me that I could either live the rest of my life feeling miserable, uninspired, and struggling to function with my eating disorder, or I could recreate my reality as I knew it. Enough is enough, the resilient, angry little voice inside me whispered. I had just graduated college, and I felt like the only way I would make it in this life is if I really challenged the beliefs I had internalized about my body, my worth, my identity, my sexuality, my purpose, and my relationship with food. Who do I want to be? And who am I to believe that I’m not capable? After a year in and out of treatment, I was finally ready.
Before I get into all the beautiful things that recovery has taught me, I must first say that nothing about my eating disorder was glamorous. The process of recovery often felt like my world was falling apart. Everyone’s recovery looks different, and for me, it happened bit by bit, two steps forward and one, two, three, sometimes ten steps back. I basically did the cha-cha slide for a while until I was finally ready to get serious about this. And then it happened. I got deeply excited and inspired by the possibility of who I would be without my eating disorder. I didn’t try to push down the fears, rather, I let them walk right beside me through it. It wasn’t always pretty, but I like to think I came out on the other side with some insights. Recovery taught me more than I could have ever imagined. . .
Recovery taught me how to take care of my mind, my physical body, and my soul. It taught me that self-care is not always bubble baths, but sometimes it is having hard conversations and asking for what I need or making a meal for myself even when I don’t feel like it. I learned to treat myself with compassion, which is a skill that really saved my life.
Recovery taught me how to cook with love, with the desire to nourish my body and to enjoy the deliciousness of food. I learned how to eat intuitively and in ways that feel good to me. I learned that food has so much meaning in our lives and that obsessing over my food or my body only limits my potential to be present and to do great things with my life.
Recovery taught me how to stand in my power as a woman. It taught me how to push past the self-limiting beliefs that I internalized from our culture. It redefined beauty for me as something that is soul-level. It taught me the power of uplifting female friendships, of my innate feminine strengths, and of resisting patriarchal diet culture with a full belly.
Recovery taught me that my body is wise. It taught me to trust that my body knows what to do when it’s spoken to with kindness and when it’s nourished. I learned to appreciate the ways that my body has taken me through the ups and downs of my life. I now understand that my body is a miracle that operates in brilliant ways to keep me alive and feeling well.
Ultimately, recovery taught me that I am here for a reason, that pain can be turned into purpose, that I have the power to change my thoughts (and my life), and that being alive in this wild world can be so beautiful when we show up.
It’s been nearly five years since that wakeup call day of enough is enough. And while I don’t have it all figured out, I’m living fully, living nourished, and living eating disorder-free. I know that the person I was on that day would be so proud of the person I am on this day. It feels so good to be reminded to appreciate the journey, and perhaps you needed this reminder too.