A year can change a lot.
Exactly 365 days ago, I was completing my first full day of residential treatment. I remember a lot about that day. I passed out twice in the morning while the poor night counselors were trying to take my vital signs. By one o’clock I was wearing yoga pants and hadn’t bothered to put my contacts in. I’d already struggled through 48 ounces of Gatorade when my parents showed up for visiting hours.
I mean, it definitely wasn’t the best day I’ve ever had.
That morning, my case manager sat down with me in the room that would become my bedroom in just two short weeks. She told me that I was about to fight one of the most difficult battles I would ever face. She told me that yes, I was sick, but I was also strong. And she was right.
Appropriately, my dad came to visit me this weekend and, upon my request, brought the huge three-inch binder of paperwork I accumulated during treatment. I spent a few minutes this afternoon flipping through the hundreds of pages I barely remembered, paying homage to the journey that began one year ago and continues to this day.
I have so many vivid memories. Puzzle pieces. I don’t think of those three months linearly at all. I think in chunks, sometimes remembering how hard I laughed when my friends tried to teach me the art of the “booty pop,” sometimes remembering the miserable taste of Ensure out of a coffee mug on the days I just couldn’t get through. None of it went in a straight line, because, well, nothing ever really does.
Today isn’t the best day I’ve ever had either. I’ve felt tired and sick all day, I’ve done hours upon hours of homework, and I didn’t do a very good job of following my meal plan. But a year ago, I wasn’t even allowed to flush my own toilet. That’s progress, no matter how stupid and ridiculous it sounds.
Recovering from an eating disorder is a wild ride. It’s challenging, it’s frustrating, it’s painful, it’s rewarding, it’s funny, it’s chaotic in all the best and worst possible ways. Sometimes I look at myself and I see the same scared, stubborn girl that spent every second trying to disappear. But sometimes I look at myself and see a warrior. It’s for that warrior that I keep fighting, even when none of the odds seem to be in my favor.
So I say, happy one-year anniversary to my recovery. How fitting that I honor it with writing, the best paper gift I know how to give. A year of fighting, laughing, crying, loathing, and loving. A year of figuring out who I am and accepting the pieces that aren’t so perfect.
A year can change a lot.