Taking Pride in My Recovery
By Kelsi Cronkright--Yesterday on my afternoon walk, I took a moment to soak up the first bit of sunlight after a bitter Michigan winter.
I noticed the birds chirping and the cool breeze kissing my cheeks. With my eyes closed, I allowed myself to inhale happiness and exhale worry, inhale strength and exhale fear, inhale self love and exhale self doubt.
Not so long ago, however, during the depths of my eating disorder, quiet times like these filled my mind with self-deprecation and distorted beliefs. Nearly a decade of my life was devoted to an eating disorder and I found it impossible to be alone with my thoughts. No matter how many awards I won, pairs of designer jeans I bought, or fake smiles I painted on my face, nothing was ever good enough. Being alone with my thoughts meant drowning in my inadequacies.
This all changed, seemingly overnight, when I learned to control my eating habits. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I was succeeding; regardless of the health risks involved. After losing countless friends, trust, job opportunities, and any sense of self I might have had, to make matters worse, I also developed an alcohol dependency. When I discovered drinking did a much better job of numbing my anxieties and negative emotions than starving did, it also quickly took over my life.
Meanwhile, I found myself getting into legal trouble not once, but twice before hitting my ultimate rock bottom. Entering treatment became an alternative to jail time; chills run down my spine as I type those words and relive that time in my head. Rock bottom is an ugly place, but I also found it was an opportunity to rebuild my life.
Treatment, for the first few months, was one big blur. It was almost as if I was looking down on my life from above, watching this zombie-like person try to stand on her own two feet for the first time. During that period of blurriness, the only thing I knew for sure was that recovery was going to be the biggest obstacle I would ever face.
The day my thinking shifted, is still crystal clear in my memory. It was one of many Tuesdays I spent in treatment; I woke up, ate my breakfast, got ready for the day, and struggled with my motive to recover, like every other day. During a routine session with my therapist at the time, she told me that I had a very simple choice: recovery or eating disorder, life or death. No one else had the power to take my life back, write my story, or latch onto this rare second chance at life.
From that moment on – as simple as it may seem - I have been in full force recovery mode. This was my “ah-ha” moment.
As I began to strip away my eating disorder persona, the terror of discovering who I am without my illness has transformed into the most thrilling adventure I will ever take. Deep down in the core of my soul, I believe in three concepts that have saved my life: the power of positivity, owning my progress, and viewing my past struggles as a blessing in disguise.
Everyday that I make a stride in the right direction it is because of a choice I made; nobody else can fight off my demons for me. Recovery has become something that I can take pride in and it has taught me how to live again. I have finally discovered a part of myself that feels worthy of love, respect, and kindness. Without my past struggles, I would not be the person that I am today- how did I get this lucky?
Before I began to bring myself back to reality, on my afternoon walk, I made one more decision: inhale life and exhale my eating disorder.
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