My recovery began with extreme ambivalence. I knew what I was doing, knew it was unhealthy, and knew I should stop, but none of this stopped anything. I began recovery in “spirit” more than in behaviors. I was ambivalent to stop my behaviors. I honestly didnt even understand what this word recovery meant. My journey into recovery was hard because I was doing it all alone, without support and went looking for support I so desperately needed. Looking for support when you are in your ED behaviors is difficult because you are bound to find mixed messages, triggers, and not know what to do. My first jump into recovery ambivalence was starting a myspace page.
When I first started my Recovery Myspace page – let me be clear – I had NO idea what I wanted, what I needed, where I was going, or what I was facing. I basically liked the idea of being anonymous and able to scream, cry, whine, share, talk, to people I thought were going through the same thing I was. I went looking for people that understood. I am not sure if my parents knew at this point – I am unsure because I have years of which were a blur (thats another blog entry) and trying to piece things together is difficult. The problem with looking for people to relate to is exactly that – finding people that are in the same place as you are – and that can be a toxic environment for someone in ambivalence.
I was a lost soul looking for direction on myspace. I did what I thought was the right thing to do in recovery. I added all the organizations, and non profits, and recovery focused professionals. I put them as my top friends and started looking for other recovery minded people. But this didn’t help me in my own recovery. Just because I had organizations, knew the resources, I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t know how to take those resources and turn it into a path of recovery. Not to mention I seriously didn’t want to recover by looking merely at my actions. This is why I say a lot that ambivalence (in my opinion) is a very real and important step in the recovery path.
People started to add me – those also in ambivalence that were looking for help. People started asking me for advice. I had “words” of advice – I knew a lot about eating disorders and knew a lot of the right words to say to support people. The problem was I felt like a fraud. Here I was supporting others and giving hope and words of encouragement when I myself was lost in my own behaviors. I felt torn because there was a need for so many people to have support – so many people looking for what to do – and I felt a lot of self imposed pressure to be the one to fill that need. I felt dishonest and torn all the time. I was wrapped with guilt in many ways because I felt so fake – how could I give support and help others if I myself wasn’t willing to stop my behaviors? I have never shared this – and I do have at least one person I know from this time as a friend in the recovery world to this day. I am not sure what she would say – but I felt my online presence was strong one day, weak the next, and all in all a mix of so many emotions I had no idea what to do with them. I was not living authentically, mainly because I didn’t even seem to know myself on any given day. I have large wholes in my recovery due to other issues and I didn’t know what to do with myself.
I had good and bad days on myspace. In 2007 I started being very honest about my struggles and I got a lot of support – I went looking into my emails today and saw so many wonderful, kind supportive offers from Kathleen MacDonald. I didn’t know who she was, not as I do today – but I am grateful for the people that did try to reach out and offer to help. Once I started being honest – it also opened my life to way more people struggling as well. The problem was I had added people who were also in disorder and in ambivalence of recovery as well. I could read their bulletins and automatically feel “heard” and “not alone” but it also gave me more reasons to be sad and sit in my disorder and in ambivalence. This time period was of incredible silence in my real life, I could act together for the most part in my life, my parents didn’t know all the details, and my close friend also was struggling in real life. I had no Voice in Recovery I could turn to to ask questions. I didn’t even know the power of my voice until years later.
I was basically using Myspace as a place to get therapy, support groups, and it wasn’t enough and wasn’t what I needed. I started the path with nothing in mind, and ended up using it as a place to cry, vent, share purge free days, all in all never realizing I wasn’t getting anywhere. I had basically found another place to dissociate from myself. I could be anyone I wanted, present myself as healthy, or sick and all in all I didn’t have to be honest with myself or others. The only posts that were of extreme honesty and pain were probably when I was intoxicated. I think a lot of the drinking back then was so that I could feel, could feel the sadness I was not allowing myself to feel anywhere else.
I stopped using the recovery page after I really started recovery. I needed to stay away because there were a lot of good, bad, hopeful, negative, parts of the myspace world I had found – but I needed an out. I needed away from triggers. I needed to really focus on my recovery and start therapy. So I stopped giving support out to everyone else. I started to focus on giving myself support.
So why did I start Voice In Recovery? I started it because there were a lot of memoirs out there, there are a lot of pro-ed sites, but the voices I felt I needed and wanted to hear were those in recovery. Recovery is such a dynamic process, very different for each individual. But I didn’t seem to find those voices when I was in desperate need of help. I felt the support being given and given by myself were those struggling in their disorders and that was hard. I wanted to create a place where voices could be heard, stories could be shared, and journeys could be shown to the world. I didnt know what recovery looked like, felt like. I find many people coming to me asking about recovery – feelings the struggles are hard, that recovery includes a lot of the thought processes we had in the disorder. Am I doing enough, am I far enough on this journey, am I doing it right? I have started this journey because I believe recovery is not black and white. I believe it is hard, but hope is possible. I believe there is no right or wrong way. I believe the journey is more important than the end result. I try not to get wrapped up in the thinking that because I struggle or have a bad day – that I am not making large strides in my life. I also feel I am living an authentic life, I no longer feel torn in what I do. I have days where I question my voice – but never its honesty. I wanted to start Voice in Recovery to provide a safe place for people to share their recovery stories. To find hope, and find solace in the journey. I want to provide to others what I did not find when I went looking. If I can help just one person either find their voice, or understand that recovery is possible, and that although there are struggles – there is hope in the process.
I have made it out of a very long tunnel where I should have died more than once. I made it out struggling a lot on my own, alone, and while this is my own path – I hope to create a safer, more open environment for people to not feel alone, and find friends, support, treatments that will work for them. I use my page to focus on integration – of research, treatments, news stories, recovery stories, etc. I think there are a lot of diverse voices out there – and I hope to find a way to dispel myths, break stigmas, and show that eating disorders are diverse by nature, and recovery is as well.
In the end that is what recovery is to me. Its about living. Finding a way to live authentically, with passion, and helping others. That is my goal in life. This is my journey. So welcome.
By the way – This myspace page is still up – still out there – although I rarely go on it – other than for reasons of piecing together my history by going through my blogs, my bulletins, my messages sent to people. This is my own virtual diary I feel is priceless. I have considered taking it down – mainly because I do have a Voice In Recovery myspace page – but for some reason I cannot yet pull the plug on this large piece of my history. For the good and bad that came from it – it was a large part of my story, my journey and for now I leave it in the past – there for me to look back to in order to see how far I’ve come.