Living On Your Own During Recovery
I lay on my bed, lights off and the sounds of a Saturday night seep through my open window. I stare at the ceiling, faintly lit by the moon. How bizarre, I think to myself, that yesterday I was surrounded by family and today I’m hundreds of miles away from all that’s familiar. It’s the first night in a new city which would be both daunting and thrilling for anyone; but, the pendulum sways slightly more towards fear as opposed to excitement for me. This is my first time living on my own while in recovery from years fighting an eating disorder.
“I never realized how much I relied on my loved ones and the carefully crafted support system that they wove together until now, as I lay on my bed, alone - or so I thought.”
As the days passed on, simple tasks of buying groceries for myself and preparing meals became challenges I had to overcome every day. The stress of wanting to excel at my internship caused me to reach for my crutch of old food rules and restrictions. I grasped for a sense of control as I was thrown into a sea of unfamiliarity; searching the streets for faces I knew, but always coming home with unkind friends: loneliness, anxiety, guilt. Tears streamed down my face as I confessed to my mom over the phone, feeling absolutely defeated, that I thought that I was falling back into the arms of my disorder.
You see, when you’re on your own for the first time, loneliness is an unwanted promise and often looked upon as a feeling which is to be avoided. But, a few weeks into this new experience, I realized that living on my own was just another step closer to my recovery.
“My eating disorder spent years enforcing in me the thought that I was too weak to go out into the world and chase after what I want for my life. But that’s simply not the case.”
My time living on my own this summer is the time for me to find out who I am, beyond the defining disorder that has built a home inside me. The more I continue to place myself outside of my comfort zone, the stronger I become. Although far from the support that helped me get back onto my feet, the love I’ve received over the years is always there, deeply embedded within me. Despite my initial doubts, I can be on my own. I can roam the streets with an ice cream in hand. I can go out to dinner with new friends. I can have a picnic all on my own on a Sunday afternoon.
In fact, it’s a rather lovely thing to be able to befriend yourself - finally, I begin to find peace, alone but not lonely.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ALMA EVERTZ
Alma Evertz spent 13 years of her life training as a ballet dancer but eventually had to stop to begin her recovery from anorexia; she is now a happy and healthy student at Mount Holyoke College where she is studying psychology and french. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education to become a pediatric occupational therapist since she adores working with children. She would also love to use her story to help others and advocate for eating disorder recovery.