Accidental Exposure

About a month ago, I suffered through the wrath of God (also known as Spring allergies). My regular nurse practitioner was out of the office that week so I had to see someone else. My regular health care team knows that I am supposed to do a blind weigh-in at every appointment. Knowing my weight could trigger a relapse. Well, this nurse didn’t know that. She had no idea that I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in the first place, and that’s not the kind of thing you just casually mention. I tried to be cool and said, “I really don’t care what the number is,” hoping that she would take the hint and not tell me.

She told me.

My heart sank, my stomach churned, and the room began to spin. As I hurried to my assigned examination room, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks and the lump forming in my throat. As soon as the LPN walked out to get the NP, I lost it. It was like I was just slapped in the face. All of my hard work, shattered. You see, the last time I saw my weight was the day I smashed my scale. At the time, I had just reached the minimum healthy weight for my height and that was almost enough to trigger a relapse. Fast forward over half a year later: I put on a few pounds. It hit me hard.

I was absolutely morose for next few days. Over the course of my recovery process, I obviously knew I had gained weight—that’s what happens when you recover from a restrictive ED—but I had gotten pretty good at ignoring that fact. Eight months into recovery and I’m doing great, and then the one thing that I am most afraid of sneaks up on me and aims right for the heart.

Have you ever worked so arduously for something only to have it crumble down before your eyes like the walls of Jericho? I hope not, because it sucks (pardon my honesty).

In that moment, all I wanted was to go back to my blissful ignorance. Why didn’t I just tell the nurse plainly that I didn’t want to know? I wasn’t ready to see the scale. It was so liberating to finally be free from its imprisonment! I didn’t want to go back to that place. I didn’t want to know. Why did I let this happen? Why did I allow all my hard work to go to waste? I didn’t want to know.

When I got home, I let myself break down. I laid on my bed and screamed at my mom (sorry Mom) and hated the whole world for a little while. But I didn’t let myself stay there. I wanted to exhaust all the anger and grief and sadness from my system. Sometimes you need to empty out all the bad to make room for the good. Sometimes you just need a good cry.

Once the initial shock wore off, I was able to convince myself that this happened for a reason, although it might be a mystery.  I stopped blaming myself. As much as I wanted to rewind time just a few seconds to avoid the situation, I realized that the only thing I could do was accept it and move on. I didn’t have to let it throw me into relapse. I didn’t have to let Ana win. The fight isn’t over.

Perspective: despite what Ana would have me believe, my weight gain is not a failure. Quite the contrary, actually. The fact that I have put on weight is something to be celebrated. With God, I have overcome something that held me in such a dark place. I once feared weight gain more than death, but now I feel happier and freer than ever. In fact, I am thriving!

So now I know. I know my weight, although sometimes I still wish I didn’t. I also know that I am the exact same person I was the moment before I stepped on that scale. I know that I am happier and healthier than ever. I know that God is my rock and I wouldn’t have been able to come this far without His love. And I know now that even the scale is nothing to be afraid of—if I can handle this and not slip into a relapse, I’m a lot stronger than I thought. So are you.

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