Proud2Bme | In Loving Memory of Dad, My Recovery Hero

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In Loving Memory of Dad, My Recovery Hero

By Nichole Petroy--When it comes to recovering from my eating disorder, my dad has helped me immensely. He has taught me how to persevere, how to stay resilient, and how important it is that I keep a strong will. To this day, he is largely a part of why I am as far along with recovery as I am. Perhaps the most surprising thing about my dad playing such a large role in my recovery is that he never even knew I was struggling in the first place.

My father had a personality unlike anybody else—witty, funny, kind, giving, caring—the list goes on. He was a Navy veteran with a 100% Italian attitude you noticed right from the get-go. Later on in his adult life, he was diagnosed with Angioid streaks, a disease that causes vision loss. The condition worsened over time and his vision continually got worse and he was legally blind by the time I was born. He has never seen what I look like, but it never stopped him from making sure he told me how beautiful I was every single day. His health started to deteriorate as I grew up, until this past January when his heart ultimately gave out and he left us for a better place.

Eating disorders often come with both successes and relapses. Sometimes the cycle seems endless and it’s hard to keep on with recovery. I have experienced the relapse portion more times than I’d like to admit and each time has brought along that little voice of my eating disorder telling me to give up. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that in the past I listened to that voice. I would stop trying and become some magician who was able to hide it all. 

Just when I truly thought I would be stuck like this forever, something clicked. Watching my father go in and out of the hospital for over 20 years and head right back to work every single time was a learning experience all on its own. Shingles, triple bypass surgeries, and a heart attack, among other ailments, landed him in the position to give up countless times. He never did. I knew that if he could constantly face these struggles and bounce back, I could, too. So I started to take control. 

Although I was actively struggling for years, I never told my dad. He was always fighting his own battles and being there for him was more important to me. After he passed, I knew I couldn't let this illness have a hold over me anymore. I am 22 years young and have an entire life ahead of me. My dad's journey was full of traveling, laughs with family and friends, and enough stories to last a lifetime. I want that, too.  

Eating disorders do not care about your plans to make memories and thrive, which is why we all need to make the choice to leave them behind in order to achieve those things. So thanks to his constant will to push, to survive, to be present despite any and all setbacks, I have chosen the same for myself. He has been proud of me from the moment I was born, even over the smallest achievements and he never let me (or anybody who would listen, for that matter) forget it. I refuse to let bulimia be the exception. Although I'd do anything to thank him in person, I hope that putting up this fight is thanks enough.

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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