why grief is a necessary part of recovery

just a disclaimer that my posts are not substitutes for medical or mental health advice, but are insights and experiences from my eating disorder recovery, as someone who is now fully recovered. if you or a loved one is struggling from an eating disorder, i encourage you to reach out to a non-diet, HAES-aligned care provider.

when we’re in the thick of the disorder, so much of our lives, identities, and concept of self-worth are wrapped up in our food restrictions, exercise regimens, and body manipulation tactics. recovery is a deliberate running away from these behaviors, and the rewiring of the belief systems underlying them in the process. depending on how long you’ve been struggling with your disorder, you may have even spent most of your life completely consumed by disordered thoughts and behaviors, so then the question becomes–what do i do with the rest of it? what even is the recovered version of me, or more simply, the non-disordered, authentic version of me?

if you’re having an identity crisis in recovery–you’re not alone! it is completely normal and expected to feel lost in recovery, and to lose a sense of self that was so deeply intertwined with the disorder. that’s why it is important to validate the grieving that occurs when shifting away from old behaviors. this grief doesn’t mean you are “bad” for missing your smaller, more toned body, or the societal praise you received for performing certain behaviors, or the sense of pride that came from the pursuit of thinness. what it does mean is that you are a hurting, healing human being who is going transitoning out of an old version of yourself, and so naturally, change breeds grief.

there are so many phases of recovery, and the number and duration of the phases is so unique for each individual–no journey to food and body peace is the same. and just as grief is an inevitable phase, so too is joy, and relief, and fear, and excitement, and sadness, and discomfort. i promise that the more you are able to fully feel and lean into these phases, the more fully and completely you will be able to learn whatever lessons they are trying to teach you and reveal to yourself parts of you that have been overshadowed by the ED’s loud voice. it’s okay to feel however it is you are feeling right now as you do the hard thing, and it’s okay to have nostalgia about aspects of your disorder which gave you some kind of societal reward. trust your treatment team, your support system, and your body–you are going to get through this.

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