The First Step

Depending on my mood, it still pains me to say the words out loud ‘I’m proud of myself.’ It pains me because even though I truly am proud of how far I’ve come, I know how far I still have to go.

For the first time in my 10 year struggle, I have decided to share openly of my longtime relationship with an eating disorder. This decision in itself is something I am SO PROUD OF. I am proud of it AND I absolutely hate it. I hate that I’m sharing my story more than words because I’ve envisioned this day for years and this is not what it looked like.

Somewhere deep down I always knew there would come a time when I would open up. I have never been able to properly explain the feeling, but I wanted to somehow use my experience to help others. I was going to overcome all of this, I was going to once and for all fix myself and then I was going to share my whole story peacefully from the other side. I was going to solidify my journey through recovery and in the process help others at whatever point on their journey they may be.

In my mind, the day was supposed to go a little something like this:

I’d be terrified of sharing this secret. But this secret I’ve held close for so long but the elephant that has lived in the corner of my mind for years — I’d finally be ready to open up and set him free. Ready because I would have overcome. I’d be on the other side. “I have made it through the worst of times and SO CAN YOU” I’d say. “It sucked, it was painful, it was lonely and now it’s done. Maybe some of the thoughts are still here, but I’m symptom free. I am in recovery. I am HAPPY. Come join me, fight for it, battle through it because I made it and you can too. You are worth it!” *happy dance*

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “supposed to” and that is not at all how my story goes. My decision to share did not come not from a place of triumph but from a place of pain and struggle. It comes from right in the thick of the battle. I haven’t yet beaten my eating disorder. I am not on the other side. I am not yet triumphant, and because of that knowing where to begin is impossible. Admitting I have an eating disorder gives only the slightest insight into what that means for my existence, but over the coming weeks I will try to make that more clear.

I may not yet be in recovery, but I’ve decided to share anyway. Because far too often I stay up late into the night bingeing AND STILL wake up to go to work. Because some days I don’t want to be here at all, BUT I get out of bed ANYWAY. Because over the years I’ve lied, I’ve cheated, and I’ve stolen to cover my tracks, but I know isolated actions do not define me. Because my anxiety and depression are a part of me but they are not me. Because I know I am not my eating disorder.

So day after day I wake up and say “I can do this.” Admittedly, some days I do a lot better than others, but that’s why I have the next day and the next day and the next day to get it right. I share because sometimes things are really fucking dark in my world but I wake up and I choose to feel hopeful regardless.

My story may not have come from a place of triumph, YET, but it has come from a place of strength. A place of self compassion. A place of self love. A place that still wants to say I have made it this far, and SO CAN YOU. A place that says I am going to make it all the way and we can do it together. And maybe my voice will help create a space to be open and honest and authentic. And maybe that is the first step.

Jamie Snow