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It’s a choice, not chance.

on February 6, 2013

I can’t believe it – one more sleep and I will be on that plane home. I am so excited yet bubbling with nerves at the same time. This sunny shoreline has been my safe haven for the past six months and has become a protective bubble for me. I feel such warmth and love here with my Mountain Nest family. I have learnt so much about who I am, I can barely recognise the person that arrived here many moons ago. I was not even alive when I touched down – I had let myself get so dangerously low. When I think back to how I was, I feel so sad I tortured my soul for so long. I can say that I no longer wish to abuse myself anymore. I feel compassion and gratitude towards my body these days. I allow my emotions to be present – all of them and most importantly, I no longer wish to deny myself pleasure.

I went to my last family group on Saturday and I talked about my feelings about coming home. I have quite a few fears running around in my head. The biggy is my appearance. I look different to when I left, I have gained weight of course. I’m still not sure what to make of my new body. It varies from hour to hour. Sometimes I think I look OK – healthier, but then other times I am grossed out by the extra flesh. They say that body image is the last thing to go – the final nail in the coffin. I am particularly nervous about going back to my clothes in London. I expect a lot of them won’t fit me anymore – the temptation to try my jeans on and squeeze into them is huge. My therapist told me that the day I can fit into them, is the day that I need to be back in treatment!

I am nervous that although my body may now be physically well, my head hasn’t quite caught up. I worry that the expectation for me to return ‘cured’ is high. I by no means want this to be an excuse to stay sick, but I need to express that the hard work has only just begun. I have healed my physical self and am now working hard to heal my mental self. It requires a great deal of healthy self vs eating disorder dialogue to shout down the thoughts that still enter my mind. The gift that this place has given me though is the power of choice. I never thought that I had a choice before, but that has been given back to me and as long as I remember that, I always have the opportunity to stay well. I said to my therapist today that I was scared that my eating disorder is still waiting for me – just around the corner. She said that recovery is a choice, not chance – it is so true. I can do this. She believes I can, so I must too.

I am excited to have a future now. I used to walk around the city with a chip on my shoulder, resenting life and the pack of cards that I was dealt. I no longer feel this way. I am grateful for my life. I am thankful that my body has healed and has not been permanently damaged after all the years of abuse I put it through. Life is peachy when you look at it through rose-tinted glasses. I am going to miss this place so so much. The people that I have met on my journey have been remarkable and have helped shape the person that I have grown in to. I was asked the other day what I had learnt in my time here. It’s hard to put into words, there has been so much. Fundamentally I have learnt to express my needs and wants through the language of words and not food. Before I came, I used to think that the only way I could get what I wanted – attention, love, validation, approval, acceptance – was to play around with my food and to show the outside world how much I was suffering. Through my relationships here, I have learnt that my eating disorder only pushes people away – sobbing through half a salad as I was reminded, gets me nowhere. People just don’t want to be around it and I now realise why. The hard part is breaking the habit. Whilst I no longer have the ‘stories’ my eating disorder created to enable me to stay sick, I do have a mother-f***** of a habit to break. After twelve years of controlling my food and manipulating my body, it has been etched into my being. BUT it is possible to get well, as I have said before – I have seen it with my own eyes. The pack of cards is in my hands now.

I have had a lot of farewells to say, the first came yesterday when I said goodbye to my four-legged friends, Bodhi and Oria. From the day I first saw them, when I used to pass them on my cold frosty walks, they have been a source of strength and motivation for me. I have always managed to find my furry friends wherever I have gone and in the past six months I have gotten to know the boys well. It has only been this past month that I could actually ride them and I have got some wonderful memories to take home with me. I have also found a long-life friend in their owner Jill, who has shown me such kindness and generosity. I am forever grateful to her for allowing me to be a part of her world and for trusting me with her boys. I welled up when I had to say goodbye to her, but I know that we will stay in touch and that we will meet again. I had my last session with my therapist today who quite frankly saved my life. She told me that I am a different person – unrecognisable from the walking zombie that arrived. She has taught me so much about the sort of person I want, and can be in this world. She told me she was proud of me and that meant such a lot. I am proud of me and the work that I have done. It has been rocky at times, but I stuck it out and took on board all their advice. I want to thank the team for pushing me, for never giving up on me, and for beating my eating disorder down.

On my morning walk yesterday, I was listening to my ipod on shuffle and Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ came on. I haven’t listened to it for ages – the words this time as cheesy as they are really struck a chord.

“I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life. It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right. No message could’ve been any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change.”

I am nervous that as soon as I land on home soil, the voices, the old behaviours will come flooding back in. I am under no doubt that the transition back to my life after being here wrapped up in a cocoon will be challenging, but I hope that I can be brave enough to tell the truth and reach out. I can make the changes if I do the work. I don’t have the luxury of repeating these past six months, and neither do I want to. This was my one shot at a life. I was blessed to of been given this chance by my family. I intend to keep on developing and learning new things about myself. It is only me that can ultimately determine my future. I just hope I have the strength to continue what I have started. So onto the next chapter – thank you all for being a tower of strength for me. I can’t wait to see you all on the other side.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey

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4 responses to “It’s a choice, not chance.

  1. Andrea says:

    I have been reading your diary since you were on radio 2. I have to say you have done amazingly well. I don’t have any sort of eating disorder but sometimes your words have really struck a chord with me and helped me on my journey. I wish you all the live in the world for the remainder of your journey and hope you find that you savour and enjoy every day now. Much love xx

  2. Muriel says:

    Hi Laura.mum phoned me with the good news that you are coming home. Everyone will be so pleased to see the new you. You have been through such an amazing journey and achieved so much. Having followed your blog we all realise that you still have to live in the real world with its ups and downs but I know you will face it with courage. Sometimes people look at the outside and think all is well, I know from experience that the outside does not reflect the inside. You will find that people may say things you do not want to hear, but know that they are doing it because they care about you. Just believe in yourself and know that you are being looked after. Much love x

  3. Sarah says:

    I am so pleased for you and impressed with how much you have achieved. Your postings have been an inspiration to me and I hope that one day I can continue on a recovery road myself as I seem to have reached a complete brick wall that I can’t get past. I would be extremely interested and grateful if yourself or anyone could tell me that name of this place that you have been at for this time?
    Good luck for the future months and thanks for your postings.
    Sx

  4. Mike Amos says:

    Well done Laura – you are an inspiration to many people.
    Let your light shine out!
    Love, Liz and Mike

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