Monday, September 22, 2014

Seeing Life in Color

This past weekend I spent two days exploring the Lake Michigan shoreline in the northwest part of the state and was blown away by the beautiful scenery. I wish I would have counted the number of times I said, "We are still in Michigan, right?!" 

Let's flashback five short years ago to when I also spent time in the same exact region of the state, but hardly remember any of it. I don't remember the views being as spectacular, the water being the same vibrant shade of blue, or the adorable shops downtown. All I remember about those trips is how anxious I was because I couldn't control my food intake like I normally could at home. The people around me were constantly watching me eat. I was so caught up in counting the calories I ate and then finding ways to burn them off, that I was barely able to enjoy the moment. 

 These two pictures were taken on the same trail, five years apart. Yet somehow I completely forgot how special this part of the state is. 

People in recovery from eating disorders often talk about "seeing life in color" as they continue to get healthy and maybe this is what is meant by that. Five years ago my vision was blurry because I was unable to see things beyond my disease. I lived in a world of black and white; either I was restricting my intake or I wasn't. Either I was being good or I was being bad. Everything else seemed insignificant. 

But now, two years after leaving treatment, I think I am realizing how spectacular life in color actually is. Don't get me wrong, my life is far from perfect and I still have many things to improve on, but I am no longer living with an eating disorder, nor do I ever want to again. Wow, I need to soak those words up.

I know it's been awhile since I have written here, but I felt like this was a moment worth sharing. I think when we are sick, our worlds become so narrow; all we see is the disorder and nothing else, no matter how incredible our surroundings might be. It is also possible that I have had many of these "seeing life in color" moments recently, but haven't had something this concrete to compare them to.

Empire Bluffs 2009 and 2014
Pyramid Point 2012 (just before entering treatment) and 2014

I needed this. I have been really hard on myself about not being further along in life recently, which seems to be a reoccurring issue for me in recovery. By looking at these photos and thinking back, I am finally able to see just how far I have come in five years. It's weird to admit that I am actually quite proud of myself. 

A brief update - I am currently in the social work program at the school I am attending and absolutely loving my classes. I am looking at a graduation date of April/May 2016 and then will continue on to get my Masters degree. I feel like I am at home in this program... Finally. We are discussing topics that I am passionate about and researching treatment methods and interventions. Who knows if I will actually end up working with eating disorder patients; at this point it doesn't matter because I have found my niche and can easily relate to others in vulnerable positions.

I may have seen the world in black and white five years ago, but I am thrilled to say I am finally seeing in color again thanks to this weekend trip up north and my continued efforts in recovery.