I call my emptiness, "The Monster." It represents the terror I experience from feelings of abandonment. It is the overwhelming pain that led me to find comfort in my eating disorder and eventually treatment at the Renfrew Center of Florida in January of 2006.
I embarked on a search for fulfillment when I began my recovery journey realizing I could no longer live my life without help. I had become the perfect Juliet, ready to kill myself in order to be with my Romeo (ED). I had mistakenly assigned my eating disorder the role of fulfilling my every need until I realized it was killing me. I found safety and tremendous support at Renfrew but, when I left, the pain of abandonment seemed worse than ever.
I believe complete recovery is a journey through many stages of growth. My recovery has a dual focus of healthy food and exercise programs as well as healthy attachments and realistic expectations for people. The first lesson I learned in recovery was asking for help. It was not an easy lesson but proved powerful as I began to seek support from trusted friends, family and my treatment team. I still could not shake lonely feelings of emptiness and abandonment. The Monster would surface when I could not reach someone or felt disappointed by people.
My next (and ongoing) lesson is learning to ask for help without depending entirely on people. The problem with making a person my savior is that people are intrinsically flawed. People were not meant to complete one another but to support and to bear witness. I am relying on my faith during this stage of my recovery journey. I believe it is not good for people to be alone; God created us for interdependent relationships. I am learning to depend on God for everything and to find additional support from other people.
Recovery has never been the easy choice and much of the time resembles a balancing act between isolation and dependence. I think of balanced relationships much like balanced meal plans. As a recovering bulimic, I cannot stop eating and I cannot eat the entire pantry full. I have learned to listen to my body's cues for healthy nourishment. I also cannot isolate from my community or depend fully on other people for my emotional needs. I have learned to listen to my spirit's cues for healthy connections.