Living With Regret
I've wasted so much time.
Recently, I've been thinking more and more about how much time I've wasted with this illness. Ten years is long, and during those ten years, I've dedicated a lot of my efforts towards maintaining certain aspects of my eating disorder. Realizing that this week made me feel sad and discouraged. (Note: I should clarify that I know eating disorders are mental illnesses and not a series of bad choices. I'm just trying to write out how I've been feeling).
How many birthdays have I missed so I could stay home and engage in familiar, disordered routines? How many vacations have I turned down for fear of being outside of my "eating disorder bubble"? How many social opportunities have I said "no" to because I was too nervous to eat in front of others and feared my anxiety would get out of hand? How many years have I wasted so that I could stay in the comforts of anorexia?
I say time and time again that I try and live my life without regrets. Regret, to me, is one of the worst feelings. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that timing is everything. This week, though, I needed a little extra self-talk to remind myself of the "no regrets" mantra.
I was feeling nostalgic recently, thinking about my childhood. In the past, there was nothing more reassuring to me than coming home from swim practice and eating a big bowl of Cheerios. Or getting out of the pool in the summer and eating the picnic lunch that my mother had packed. The entirety of my adult years thus far have been comprised of anorexia, and I couldn't help but "beat myself over the head a little" for all the time I have wasted by remaining stuck in the illness. I longed to go back to the simplicity of childhood.
What I'm telling myself to get through this (hopefully temporary) down period is that I have also gained a lot in the past ten years. I have met some of the most amazing professionals who have guided me on a long journey to knowing myself and working through difficult situations. I have become friends with inspiring girls who have stood by me through treatment and through the recovery journey that only just begins after hospitalization. I continue to find the strength to fight for my life and I'm trying to learn how to prioritize myself and my health despite my head consistently telling me otherwise. I have learned what matters to me in life and how to work towards my goals despite adversity.
What I'm trying to say is: I want to live my life without regret. It isn't easy, and I was feeling particularly vulnerable this week. I often criticize myself for not being recovered yet, especially because the journey to recovery has already passed the ten-year mark.
But when thoughts like that come to mind, I have to give myself a little talk. Anorexia may still be very present in my life, but I have learned a lot about myself and about others. I have connected with so many people because of this illness and I wouldn't give away those relationships for anything.
So next time you are feeling overwhelmed by regret, take a step back and think: have I learned anything? Often, important realizations come about from situations where we feel regret. Try and focus on what you have LEARNED as opposed to living in the past and regretting things you have said or done. It's all about forward-thinking. As the saying goes: "Don't look back. You're not going that way".