I've been trying to remember things I wanted and needed to hear during my recovery. I sought out the stories of other peoples' struggles with eating disorders and their subsequent victories, and cherished them when I found them. But I always wound up thinking, "Well, my story isn't exactly like his/hers, so maybe I won't be successful."
There is a loneliness in recovery. This isn't to say love and support from family and friends don't make a difference, because it, and they, DO. But even with it all, there is a still a measure of being alone -- because your story is yours. The choices are yours. Even when I was searching for other peoples' words with which I could identify, I still felt alone. That no one could really "get" exactly what I was going through. That my story was different.
What helped, I think, was realizing it was different.
A difficult but, frankly, beautiful thing is that there is a bond among people who have recovered, and are recovering, from an eating disorder. When you reach that level of darkness within yourself -- the self-hatred, the loathing, the leaning for death, the obsession, the torture of it all -- only people who have seen that same level of darkness within themselves can really understand.
But, at the same time, every single path and person and experience and recovery is different. Which is perhaps why that voice tries to ring through, saying, "Sure, he/she recovered, but he/she isn't you. There are so many variables. So many differences." It tries to make it so the hope that others have found can feel so far away.
So, it was hard for me to find what I needed to hear during recovery. And to know what I needed to hear. With such a weird dichotomy of feeling alone while all these other people were speaking of familiarities I understood, I often felt like an outcast (through no one's fault, of course). Thinking about it now, I'm sure that was the intention of my eating disorder -- to keep me separate, struggling for this individuality even in recovery.
We are all individuals, though. I have my story. You have your story. But, maybe what I needed to hear during that time was our story:
Recovery is a battle uniquely yours, but we are all here -- together -- with you. With our own path and our own victories -- but we are by your side. We are a family of survivors. We are your friends. And we will hold onto your hope for you when you may struggle in doing so.
Because we believe in you.