This is not a recovery blog. Recovery, in my experience, is a myth. You can learn to recognize destructive behavior and you can learn to recognize unhealthy patterns of thought. You can not stop having unhealthy patterns of thought. You can not stop wanting to behave in a destructive way. All you can ever really do, is learn a new kind of control.
This is not a proana or pro ED blog. Living with anorexia is an exhausting experience. As Jade said over at ProAna Lifestyle, none of us do this because we are particularly happy. I’m not going to list tips on avoiding food in social settings or tricking your body into thinking it’s full. I’m not going to teach you how to lie to your parents, partners or roommates. I’m not going to post thinspo or reverse thinspo and try to help you guilt yourself into starving.
If you have ED of any sort, then it is a part of who you are. It’s pointless to pretend that it ever really goes away or stops being a part of you. But I don’t want to help anyone submit more completely to Ana. I don’t want to submit fully to Ana. I gave myself to her once. In gaining control over my body, I lost control of myself. She became the most important aspect of myself, and even though this was well before the internet was around to teach me things like Ana’s Creed, I found myself following it to the letter. Ana was my everything, and I would do anything to live up to her strict standards for me.
It’s been over a decade since I went into “recovery.” In that time, I have gained weight, grown hair and developed breasts. But in many ways, I feel like I did that with Ana, not despite her. Ana has always been with me. When I pushed myself to graduate with the highest GPA in my class, that was Ana whispering in my ear and reminding me how important it is to be perfect. When I defended my thesis for my MA and when I published my first article, Ana was there helping me to remember to never settle for second best. It took me a long time to acknowledge her influence and role in my life, but Ana has always been there. And Ana has always been there for me. I work with her because I believe I can be perfect. I work with her because she makes me feel the kind of instant success and satisfaction the rest of my life denies me. I work with her because she gives me a sense of control. Her influence goes so far beyond what I put into my body. Knowing that I can take charge of my body reminds me that I can also take charge of the rest of my life.
I know that this is disordered thinking. I recognize that Ana is at best a security blanket and not the safety net I make her out to be. But at the same time, I know that she is still a part of my life. I am not failing in my recovery for acknowledging her presence in my life. I am not failing as a person with anorexia by not supporting the proana movement as a valid lifestyle choice. I am a wife, a student, a teacher, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a woman, a person of faith and a human being. But I am also a person with anorexia. That is, and always will be, a part of who I am.