November is special to me. It’s my five year recovery anniversary and my five year Jesus birthday. It’s a dear month to me. It’s been five years since I walked into my counselor’s office and began, to this day, the hardest, most uncertain battle I’ve fought.
In lieu of this milestone month, I thought it was important to share something that’s been gnawing at me lately. So much so, that I sent my bff a very aggressive text about this issue, to which she replied:
“OH MY GOSH THANK YOU LIKE FOR REALS. write a blog. people must know.”
So here we go.
This post isn’t meant to shame, guilt, or judge anyone. I will also preface by saying that although my language will target my ED warrior sisters, I know there are many men who have faced the mountain that is an eating disorder.
I confess that the very action I’m going to challenge you to consider avoiding, is one I’ve given into myself.
I’ve posted my before/after photos.
If you are one of my fellow ED warriors basking in the peculiarity that is recovery, I commend you. You are strong. You are brave. You are so worth fighting for. Your recovery is a celebration and deserves to be recognized.
However, let’s consider our lives pre-recovery (and post for many of us). Remember the constant comparison? Looking at her legs and measuring the thigh gap? Remember the fear of mirrors and windows and any reflective surface? Remember how freaking HARD it was to see photos of women you deemed “perfect” splattered across social media? Remember the shame induced by seeing those photos?
I beg you to consider shying away from posting your before/after photos for the following reasons:
- Protect your sisters. We can do our part to stop the temptation to compare stories, sizes, and “success."
- Our before/after photos often put eating disorders in a box. More often than not our recovery photos show a thin, frail, miserable us coupled with a strong, thriving version. We know better than anyone that eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Our stories, our battles are no less important than the sister who was hospitalized or went to out-patient. We can do our part to not perpetuate ED stereotypes.
- We know it’s a slippery slope. No matter how far along in our recovery we are, there’s always the temptation to return. Meditating on photos from our unhealthy days is often dancing on that slope. Let’s protect ourselves.
- We have nothing to prove. If your battle is anything like mine, you feel the constant need to validate that you struggled. The denial days are all too real and sometimes we use our before/afters to keep us from denial. That photo doesn’t define you. Your story is your story. The season of battling ED was real. You don’t need a photo to prove it.
Sweet friends, don’t let this post shame you or hold you back from celebrating. Recovery is so worth celebrating. But rather, let it be a challenge that unifies us. We have a voice. Our photos don’t define us or prove we had an eating disorder. Sister, you have nothing to prove. We can celebrate and PRAISE GOD for His redemption in our lives sans photo.
If you are in the thick of recovery or maybe you’ve yet to take the first step towards freedom, I am five years into the journey and I can confidently say, it’s just that: a journey.
It’s messy and overwhelming and misunderstood. It’s really freaking hard. But sweet sister, recovery is so worth it. You’re worth it. Freedom is worth it.
My journey still doesn’t look perfect, in fact, the past two weeks were r o u g h . But it’s still worth it. Every day, every decision, it’s still worth it.