I want to write about perfectionism but since it is something I continue to struggle with it’s frightening to be so vulnerable.
Part of what fueled my eating disorder was perfectionism. From the many books I’ve read it tends to be a common issue among anorexia sufferers. I wanted to eat perfectly, work out perfectly, look perfectly, work perfectly, and have a perfect life. Did I understand that I was in no way living that kind of life in what I was doing? Yes. But I still had to try to do everything perfectly and be perfect.
For me I never felt that I was good enough. I struggled to feel as though I was making my parents proud. Although I have always been a kind and caring person I had a hard time making friends. I didn’t fit in with anyone. I had trouble finding direction in life. I felt like a lost soul. I wanted to belong somewhere and with others.
Getting past the false idealism of perfectionism was a journey in itself. Even now I struggle to keep myself in check. I overwork, overachieve, overextend myself, and I burn out without having achieved even half of the feeling of satisfaction I was chasing.
Three years into recovery and, yes, I am still battling the same demon disguised in a different mask. I notice it in the way I eat, the way I workout, the way I work, the way I interact with certain people. I have come so far in understanding fully that “perfect” does not exist in any form, and yet I use the pursuit to escape the frustrations of daily life.
That being said, I am usually quick to recognize when my behavior is getting out of life. I adjust accordingly. I check in with myself, take time for myself to reevaluate and hash out what is really going on.
I fight back.
That is what recovery is about: fighting back. It’s about regaining control over your negative thoughts and actions and pumping yourself full of optimism (or finding the help from those you love and trust).
I want others to know that recovery is wonderful. A few months ago I wrote for the first time “I am thankful for my recovery.” For a long time I thought recovery would simply be learning to cope with the ED thoughts, finding ways to sweep them under the rug, and live a semblance of a healthy life. But now I see how wrong I was.
Recovery is completely individual. There isn’t one tried and true method for getting through. I think the foundation that needs to be laid is inner strength. Having the will to say “Yes” to recovery, the will to push back against the negative thoughts one at a time, to focus on the present and not how far you may have to go (literally and figuratively).
There is hope. There is support. There is friendship and kindness and understanding. There is a shoulder to cry on, a willing ear to listen, and a soft hug which screams “I love you!” when you need it.
There is a way through the issue that is driving an eating disorder. There is a belief in something other than perfectionism.
I know because I am living breathing proof.