During the recovery process, I believe it’s common, even normal that many of us feel some kind of nostalgia towards our eating disorder.
The times in recovery where our ED comes knocking and tries to lure us back, nostalgia is a tactic it uses.
I found this crazy, why would I ever want to return to something so destructive, yet I experienced a sense of wistfulness for it at times.
Your ED will not remind you of your darkest days in the depths of it, it will tell you mistruths, altered memories- such as, “it wasn’t that bad, you didn’t really have an eating disorder, not every day sucked, you still ate xyz, you didn’t miss” bla bla. But it will not be reminiscent of the rules you had to allow yourself to do that, the guilt and shame you felt and the resentment from others when their concern fell on deaf ears. No, it will not remind you of any of this.
It will recollect and romanticize the euphoria you felt on occasion, but not the crashing low points that always followed and were the majority. It is deceptive and the memories are modifications.
Your eating disorder has been a maladaptive coping strategy. It’s not surprising it tries to draw you in, at a point in your recovery where you are experiencing so many challenging emotions, new experiences, loosening of support, why wouldn’t your eating disorder try and lure you back, romanticize its role in your life?
It might be on a bad body image day; the voice whispers a reminder of old compliments you used to get. It will not remind you of the days where you missed out on happy events in order to follow the ED demands or how the compliments left you feeling conflicted and confused.
Nostalgia is natural in recovery, but do not dwell in it and do not believe the romanticized picture your ED paints, your ED was not a happy place.
On the days where your ED tries to convince you otherwise:
I find reminding myself of the many things I DO NOT miss about my eating disorder helps snap me out of it. Here are some of those things I do not miss…
- My entire brain being consumed by nothing but thoughts of food and numbers.
- Being “bone cold” all the damn time no matter what the temperature was.
- The deception, the constant lies and shame that accompanied.
- The isolation, the missed social events and memories
- Not being able to eat with company, not being able to eat alone.
- Not having a period
- Feeling lightheaded most of the time
- The pain, and many injuries through not allowing my body to rest.
- The inability to laugh the inability to cry real tears.
- The crippling fear when faced with a “fear food.”
- The incapacitating supermarket, menu, choice “blindness.”
- The brain fog and difficulty to concentrate and apply most of my brain.
- The sore throat
- The bloating and constipation
- Never getting a full night’s sleep, sleep being haunted by fear foods.
- Not being able to eat out without planning a year in advance.
- Having to move 24/7. The unbearable discomfort of being still.
- Being boring because I had nothing to talk about
- Feeling like a constant failure no matter what. No number, image or achievement was ever enough.
- Feeling like I wanted to crawl out of my skin all the time.
The list is not endless. I could continue.
However, I feel it is important to remember a few things:
Nostalgia towards your eating disorder is nothing to feel ashamed about, it makes a lot of sense in recovery. We should normalize it.
Nostalgia is natural in recovery, but do not dwell in it and do not believe the romanticized picture your ED paints. Bit by bit this nostalgia will dissipate and become replaced with the truth so long as you keep addressing it.