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So, What’s Next?

I’ve never had a 10-year plan or thought about the future really if I’m being honest. I’ve never pictured what next week looked like, let alone next month, so definitely not thought about what could happen in a year or two, let alone 10.

I’ve never understood people who try to box everything up into a life plan. Wrap it up, tie a pretty, shiny ribbon on it and check a bunch of boxes off their lists. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that life is messy, unpredictable, and as much as my eating disorder thought it could control everything, it is completely out of our hands a lot of the time.

When I first got sick, I was too young to fully realize what was happening. I avoided what was going on and ran from everything, which ended up in me getting sick again. This time though, I wasn’t letting it control my life anymore. I wanted things to look forward to, I wanted to live again.

I wish I could tell you I’m not filled with regret from all those teenage and young adult years that I spent obsessing over food and not going out with my friends. Those are years and times that I’ll never get back. Times that my own my mind scared me from doing anything because I physically could not eat. I didn’t know how to be around food without it being in secret. How could I be out and around people who would question why I wasn’t eating, or who would question my rituals around things that I would eat that I considered “safe” foods?

I don’t think I would swap those months of being in the hospital once I finally admitted to everyone, and myself, that I needed help though. While I’ll never get those moments back with my loved ones, what I gained from treatment was so much more than weight. I met some of the most wonderful people and learned how to eat again – and found excitement around it. Food became fun, not something I feared anymore.

Every day, I hear “you’re so strong” and it doesn’t really resonate. I used to be embarrassed by my eating disorder because we all need to eat. If you’re hungry, you eat. It’s something we instinctually learn as children. I felt like a child throughout most of my journey of learning how to properly nourish myself that when I hear how far I’ve come or see the look of confusion on people’s faces when they learn what I’ve gone through, it doesn’t sit right with me.

I think those of us that have suffered, who are suffering, learn how to push through the pain because it’s unavoidable. We need to eat. We can’t get around it. For me, I had to let go of the control aspect in order to let myself enjoy being around food without anxiety and it came back into my life with joy for the first time in years.

So, I don’t know how strong we are, but I do know that anyone who has fought – or is fighting, because you don’t just snap your fingers and become healed. – is resilient. We’ll keep pushing because we didn’t go through all those tough times and miss out on all those experiences for nothing.

Missing out made me who I am today, and I can see now that I’m still the girl that I was when I was sick. The trauma didn’t change the integrity that I have as a person now, it only added a layer and made me ready for what’s next. Ready to not want to miss out on any more nights out, any more events because of being scared. So maybe I don’t have a 10-year plan, but I am finally thinking about the future, and I know what I want. I want to be happy, truly happy. And I think that’s all that really matters.

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