Letting go is difficult. Identify the things that are toxic in your life towards your recovery. Come to terms of acceptance that while these things encouraged anorexia, they do not encourage a healthy life. Remind yourself that in order to recover, these things are no longer meant to be held onto.
Food scales and measuring cups
These are tools that only encourage eating disordered behaviors. Measuring is so easy to obsess over. Day one: you measure your bowl of cereal to perfection. Day two: you must certainly do the same. It quickly becomes a cycle of perfection in terms of serving sizes, which completely ignores the reality that food portions are meant to fluctuate! They are meant to fluctuate based on hunger, appetite, and preference. This was by far the hardest step for me to get over; and to be honest, I still sometimes struggle with it. The more anxious I am, the more I feel the need to control the exact amount of any food that I give my body. So do yourself a huge favor for recovery: get rid of all these measuring tools. Throw them out, donate them, ask your parents or another trusting support to hide them and promise not to return them. Out of sight, out of mind (in time).
Dishonesty and secrecy
Anorexia seems to feel like your own little secret; it feels safe and comfortable, and it also makes you feel like you’re in control. I became an expert manipulator immediately when I was in treatment. I could easily tell anyone around me, including my family (my biggest support network) that I was doing well, that I was eating according to my meal plan, and that I was no longer restricting. It felt powerful to be able to hold secrets; I felt in control and my anorexia loved it. The reality of it is that secrecy actually makes you less in control than anorexia would like you to believe. The lies and the manipulation instead have control over you and your actions. The more honest you are, the more your support network is able to positively support you in the way you need.
Surrounding yourself with fellow diet-fixated friends, or friends who talk negatively about their body does not encourage recovery. Negativity feeds off of negativity. While it may be hard to end a long-term friendship, or even a new one that initially felt supportive, it does not play a helpful role in recovery. Ask yourself: is my friend’s behavior triggering my own behaviors that push me back in recovery? Am I triggered? Answer these questions honestly. You are not selfish if you ask for space or distance. You are not selfish if have an honest conversation with your friend about your triggers and what kind of support you need from them. If your friend wants the best for your recovery, they will understand and give you the distance you may temporarily need. Surround yourself with those that uplift you, rather than those who directly or indirectly encourage eating disordered behaviors.
Any items that remind you of your most challenging experiences serve no positive role in your recovery or in your life. Get rid of the clothes you wore when you were at an unhealthy weight. By keeping these clothes, you’re allowing for the possibility that one day you may fit back into them. Cleaning your closet not only creates more space for new clothes for your recovered body, but it also is metaphorically cleansing. Ridding yourself of old clothes that you wore when you were not healthy is cleansing your mind of the thought that you will ever return back to that time.
Anorexia wants us to believe that we are in control the more that we adhere to its inflexible rules. The truth is that we are moving further and further away from our personal sense of control when we continue to give in to our eating disordered voice. While it’s unrealistic to think that the voice can be silenced over night, it can be ignored in small steps each day. Shout back louder than anorexia screams at you, and behave in a way that is completely against what anorexia wants for you. Eat the slice of pizza when anorexia is telling you not to. Have a bite of cake even though anorexia hates the thought of unmeasured eating. When we lose the false sense of control that anorexia says we have over our lives, we begin to develop a real sense of control over our recovery.
Recovery will not happen if it keeps getting pushed off till tomorrow. Feeling hesitant or fearful does not make you weak. It’s normal to feel these emotions when recovering from anorexia. It’s not easy; it’s scary as hell, but what is important is to accept the fear and then use your own motivation to overcome your fears. I remember during my relapse, I kept telling myself that “tomorrow is the day I will get healthy.” Tomorrow didn’t come for months because I was so afraid and so hesitant about what would happen if I chose to recover. I was scared of the uncertainty: would I like myself when I recover? I kept thinking about how unsafe I would feel when I decided to recover; I didn’t want to feel more scared than I already was. And then one day I began to recover; and the uncertainty slipped away as soon as it was replaced with fulfilling experiences throughout my recovery.