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Letting Go in Recovery

Abby Pousland

When my recovery journey began in December of 2021, I was extremely motivated. I was consistent with my meal plan and challenged fear foods as often as I could. Although it was never “easy”, the fact that I wanted recovery so badly allowed me to take on every challenge head first. During the first 6 months of my recovery, I believed that once I was back to a healthy weight again I would have a healthy relationship with food again too.

Once I reached a healthier weight for my body, my period came back and I noticed changes in my hair texture and skin tone. Yet, I still felt myself struggling mentally. On paper I was “better” but I still didn’t feel that way.

ED thoughts continued to swirl around my head. What if I keep gaining weight and it never stops? What if I don’t like my body after gaining the weight I need? What’s gonna happen if none of my clothes fit me anymore? What if I never recover after all of the work I’ve put in? These had been my fears for way too long; now it’s time to let go for good.

To start, I need to trust that if I give my body the food it needs consistently, then the weight I gained was NEEDED and my body will settle at the weight that is best for my physical and mental health.

Also, I STILL feel insecure about my body sometimes now, and was insecure about my body when I was really sick. If I gain weight, the way I feel about my body may not change, but at least I’ll be able to have a better relationship with food. Self-love and body acceptance is possible at any size.

And, I can always just buy new clothes! There is literally no shame in doing so! Although the idea feels scary, since it means I’m letting go of control, it would be worth it to feel comfortable and confident in clothes that fit me- rather than feeling like I need to fit into them.

Recovery takes time and trust. I need to trust that although my body is healthy again, my mind still needs a little more time to heal, and that’s ok. If I continue to resist my ED and say “no”, then eventually it will become easier and easier. Staying consistent at this stage is the hardest part of recovery.

To help motivate myself to keep pushing, I decided to write down a list of all the things that come to mind when I think of myself- who I am without my ED.

This is what I wrote:

  • talkative/energetic

  • the outdoors/hiking/animals :)

  • going to the beach/swimming in the waves/looking for hermit crabs

  • reading/writing what I’m passionate about

  • the color orange

  • dolphins/butterflies

  • picking wildflowers

  • taking pictures/making collages

  • caramel dunkin's coffee

  • lifting heavy weights/running

  • learning new things/science/medicine

  • puppies and ducklings

  • strawberry ice cream

None of these things have ANYTHING to do with how my body looks. If it happens, gaining weight is NOT going to change who I am as a person or how others see me. I have no reason to control what I eat to look a certain way. Letting go of control will allow me more freedom to be passionate about all of the other things in my life that are NOT my eating disorder. If you feel like you are struggling to find a purpose to your life other than controlling food and exercise, I would recommend trying to make one of these lists yourself :) It made me see that I am so much more than my body.

You can be happy at any size AND you can be miserable at any size. I am happiest at the weight where I am no longer restrictive of what I eat. I am happiest when I eat a burger and sweet potato fries (my favorite!) and not think of “making up for it tomorrow”. I am happiest when I spontaneously go get an ice cream cone on a hot summer afternoon, without a second thought. And I am happiest making s’mores over the campfire with friends without worrying about having “too many”- eating as many as I want to instead.

Health and happiness are ultimately way more important than spending my life trying to control how I look. I know my friends and family love me regardless of how my body looks so I know it’s possible for me to love myself too. It’s OK to let go and trust my body to do what it’s supposed to.

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