Recovery is a journey, one that may begin with a single step but requires many more. There are steps backwards, hours spent standing perfectly still, and days on your knees praying for the strength not to simply give up and lie down. In the span of that time, for me there are two moments that define my journey.
The first moment occurred on February 14, 2009. I had begun treatment for anorexia the week before and my then boyfriend, now husband, had come down to visit and celebrate Valentine’s Day. We arrived at the Italian restaurant where I had made a reservation for a romantic dinner. What they hadn’t told me when I made the reservation was that they were serving a fixed, four course menu for the holiday. I still remember sitting at the table, sobbing over my salad as my husband held my hand and reassured me that the two following courses would be okay. We would get through this together. He meant the meal, but the same was true of the work in recovery that had to occur over the next few years.
Between that moment, when what should have been a lovely night turned into a catastrophe, and this, where I consider myself fully recovered, are countless hours of therapy, many more tears shed over dozens of plates, months and even years spent “in recovery.” I had never learned how to enjoy food or how to eat to fuel my body to go through life. One of the most powerful experiences in my recovery was attending group meals at Rock Recovery. Eating in community was a new experience; learning the things food could do to make my body strong and healthy was a revelation.
I don’t know the date or time when I crossed from “in recovery” to “recovered” but I do know what it means to be recovered. It means that instead of crying over a salad, my husband and I sit down one night to gleefully watch a cooking show. We see a recipe that captivates us and decide to try our own hand at it. That weekend we spend hours talking about our future and our dreams as we fold small ravioli. Then we sit and smile at each other as we devour the delicious fruits of our labor, hearts untinged by old fears and full only of joy and gratitude.