Saturday, January 16, 2021

Eating Disorder Recovery – Post by Author Marya Hornbacher

April 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, Healthy Coping, Mindfulness, Recovery

A blast from the past — This guest post is from Love2EatinPA, originally posted in 6/17/2010.

Here is a post about recovery from life-threatening eating disorders by the amazing author of “Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia”, Marya Hornbacher.  She has recovered after over 15 years of battling both anorexia and bullimia.

I hope you find this post about recovery to be as inspirational as I did.

I don’t remember when I stopped noticing—stopped noticing every mirror, every window, every scale, every fast-food restaurant, every diet ad, every horrifying model. And I don’t remember when I stopped counting, or when I stopped caring what size my pants were, or when I started ordering what I wanted to eat and not what seemed “safe,” or when I could sit comfortably reading a book in my kitchen without noticing I was in my kitchen until I got hungry—or when I started just eating when I got hungry, instead of questioning it, obsessing about it, dithering and freaking out, as I’d done for nearly my whole life.

I don’t remember exactly when recovery took hold, and went from being something I both fought and wanted, to being simply a way of life. A way of life that is, let me tell you, infinitely more peaceful, infinitely happier, and infinitely more free than life with an eating disorder. And I wouldn’t give up this life of freedom for the world.

What I know is this: I chose recovery. It was a conscious decision, and not an easy one. That’s the common denominator among people I know who have recovered: they chose recovery, and they worked like hell for it, and they didn’t give up. Recovery isn’t easy, at first. It takes time. It takes more work, sometimes, than you think you’re willing to do. But it is worth every hard day, every tear, every terrified moment. It’s worth it, because the trade-off is this: you let go of your eating disorder, and you get back your life.

There are a couple of things I had to keep in mind in early recovery. One was that I was going to recover, even though I didn’t feel “ready.” I realized I was never going to feel ready—I was just going to jump in and do it, ready or not, and I am deeply glad that I did. Another was that symptoms were not an option. Symptoms, as critically necessary and automatic as they feel, are ultimately a choice. You can choose to let the fallacy that you must use symptoms kill you, or you can choose not to use symptoms. Easier said than done? Of course. But it can be done.

I had to keep at the forefront of my mind the reasons I wanted to recover so badly, and the biggest one was this: I couldn’t believe in what I was doing anymore. I couldn’t justify committing my life to self-destruction, to appearance, to size, to weight, to food, to obsession, to self-harm. And that was what I had been doing for so long—dedicating all my strength, passion, energy, and intelligence to the pursuit of a warped and vanishing ideal. I just couldn’t believe in it anymore. As scared as I was to recover, to recover fully, to let go of every last symptom, to rid myself of the familiar and comforting compulsions, I wanted to know who I was without the demon of my eating disorder inhabiting my body and mind.

And it turned out that I was all right. It turned out it was all right with me to be human, to have hungers, to have needs, to take space. It turned out that I had a self, a voice, a whole range of values and beliefs and passions and goals beyond what I had allowed myself to see when I was sick. There was a person in there, under the thick ice of the illness, a person I found I could respect.

Recovery takes time, patience, enormous effort, and strength. We all have those things. It’s a matter of choosing to use them to save our own lives—to survive—but beyond that, to thrive. If you are still teetering on the brink of illness, I invite you to step firmly onto the solid ground of health. Walk back toward the world. Gather strength as you go. Listen to your own inner voice, not the voice of the eating disorder—as you recover, your voice will get clearer and louder, and eventually the voice of the eating disorder will recede. Give it time. Don’t give up. Love yourself absolutely. Take back your life.

The value of freedom cannot be overestimated. It’s there for the taking. Find your way toward it, and set yourself free.



17 Responses to “Eating Disorder Recovery – Post by Author Marya Hornbacher”
  1. Ashley says:

    Definitely inspirational. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Candice says:

    Wonderful. Thank you for introducing her and sharing this piece.

  3. WendyRG says:

    This is very powerful stuff, but what struck the most forcefully was that the eating disordered behaviours she described (and stopped within herself) are exactly the behaviours that millions and millions of women who don’t have an ED as such live with every day. These are women whose weight is relatively stable, maybe somewhat higher than “ideal”, though not totally off the charts; women who seem to be normal eaters but who obsess constantly about their weight, what they eat, how much they do or don’t exercise, etc. In other words, most women in our society.

    Sadly, I feel that the vast majority of women–no matter what their eating behaviours–are disordered eaters. The difference between an anorexic or bulimic and a “regular” woman is that the anorexic/bulimic actually puts into practice what the “regular” woman obsesses about in her head every day. It’s simply the difference between word (thought) and deed.

    Please understand that I am in no way diminishing the physical and psychological havoc that a full-blown ED wreaks on an individual. I just think that most of us have the seeds of ED firmly planted in our minds, though we don’t act on them.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi WendyRG: I completely understand where you are coming from and I agree wholeheartedly. Although, those with “actual” EDs (if we can even differentiate anymore) suffer on a deeper level, and all encompassing level, we all suffer and we have begun to believe it is just a part of life.

      It’s not a part of life, this suffering is not something we have to accept. We need to CHOOSE to ignore societal pressures and CHOOSE to find something else real inside ourselves to justify our existence as we are. That something is unique to all of us, and each one of us can and will find it it we don’t give up on it.

      This is at the core of why I believe this blog is so important. Women need to surround themselves with positive influences, friends and family who don’t revolve their days around how they look to the outside world. In this community there is peace, self acceptance, and real love that literally smashes ED to the ground. ED can’t live in this environment, it just can’t — but getting there, as Hornbacher says is one hell of a battle.
      Take care,

  4. kayzilla says:

    I can relate! I didn’t realize how I was truly recovered when I thought to myself “I feel really bad today, but I can’t cope by turning to food/overexercising/dieting. Goddammit. >:/” I think when you truly let go, and just stop giving a crap about the ED or even the recovery process, you step into real life again. It’s no longer disordered or ‘in progress’ it’s just.. well.. going day by day without even considering it an option. Suddenly, it just seems illogical, and stupid to do those things ever again.

  5. Tanya says:

    I actually feel a little bit star-struck after reading Marya’s words. Her book, Wasted, helped me through a really difficult time and has been read over and over again when I feel myself slipping back into old ways. Thank you.

  6. mamaV says:

    I need to read this book, I’ve picked it up a few times, but I need to be in the right state of mind to drudge all this stuff up again — but man, when I read her words its like she pulled them out of me, particularly when she describes how “she doesn’t remember” the exact point of recovery.

    That is exactly how it is when I look back at my recovery, its like it just happened one day, when in reality it was a series of teeny tiny steps that piled up and finally broke down wall an set me free.

    I hope the same for each and every one of you,

  7. sui says:

    This is AMAZING… awesome that you got Marya to write a post! I have to admit that I actually read Wasted because it was touted as a bible for bulimarexics that actually disgusted me & encouraged me at the same time. I’ve always stared at the book not knowing what to do with it after I recovered, because when I was knee deep in my ED I actually used its influence to harm myself. I’m eager to reread it again now and challenge myself, believe in myself that I will continue to live healthily. 🙂

  8. Lyndsey says:

    I have not been in treatment very long, but I think because I was convinced it was time to stop the destruction, I have made oddly long strides toward “normal.” I don’t quite understand it, but I’m not thinking the same way or behaving the same way. At the same time, my therapist is telling me I have years of work left to do. I don’t know what to think. When do you know you are “recovered” if an expert is giving you the impression that you are really fooling yourself? What if I was at the point when I went for treatment that I was DONE with this mess of a coping mechanism?

    I am not saying that I am…I am just wanting some feedback from people dealing with ED and having more experience with what it feels like to recover and function “normally”. I am being told that I will never be “like them” and will always have to function differently. That made alarm bells go off in my head.

    Thank you for any feedback, L

  9. Eva says:

    I really loved reading this. I am recovering from bulliemia and find this to be very inspiring. Thank You!

    Eva from ALABAMA

  10. Lindsey says:

    What an incredible post! I’m so glad to see this. I especially resonated with the lines:

    “Recovery isn’t easy, at first. It takes time. It takes more work, sometimes, than you think you’re willing to do. But it is worth every hard day, every tear, every terrified moment. It’s worth it, because the trade-off is this: you let go of your eating disorder, and you get back your life.”

    Choosing recovery was the best choice I have ever made! Without that choice, nothing in my life would have been possible. I will definitely read this book soon!


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  1. […] came across a really good blog entry by Marya Hornbacher (author of Wasted) in which she talks about her recovery. She said that there never WILL be a right […]

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