Making everything "worth it"

Some of the people who speak on the subject of eating disorders say that if "I help just one person, it will all have been worth it."

And while that's all well and good, that's not the case for me. Nothing will make my seven years of anorexia hell "worth it." Won't happen. Can't happen. Obviously, seeing as I write and speak on the subject of eating disorders, I want my experiences with this disorder to have some sort of value. I want to make something good out of it all, rather than have it just be a quarter of my life that is now a big black hole of nothingness.

But worth it? Never.

This is not o undermine those who say that helping others does make their experience "worth it." If it does, well, that means they're probably a better person than me! I have learned a long time ago that the past can't be undone. Remembering the past gives me far more pain than even the prospect of forgetting it.

What all of my speaking, advocacy and outreach is doing, however, is making RECOVERY worth it. Being able to tell parents and sufferers that things do get better, that food is the cure (at least part of it), that you can fully recover, that everyone needs to be a part of the solution. When I hear people say that my story gives them hope, even though I'm far from fully recovered, well, that makes all of the work I'm doing towards recovery worth it.

Even my latest trip. Was it perfect? Nope. You know the saying "White Men Can't Jump?" Well, Irish Girls Can't Tan. But I also got to experience my body as a real, moving organism, rather than just a way to measure my worth. I might not like the way my butt looks, but it does its job quite well. I could swim, hike, ride bikes. And it was fun. I was terribly self-conscious, but I did it. I enjoyed it. I would do it again.

That's the moral of the story, I think. Things can only be worth it if you're working towards something positive. Getting my sorry tail up at 2:30 in the morning to drive to the top of a volcano, watch the sunrise, and then bike down on the island of Maui, for crap's sake, see all sorts of beautiful sights and ride through a eucalyptus forest (mmm...aromatherapy), that was worth it. I would have to cure eating disorders and cancer and AIDS, for my years of anorexia to be worth it. Anorexia was not a positive (and I'll bean anyone with a dinner plate who says that it is). Recovery is. The hard work I'm doing right now- and I do mean hard- is going to make recovery worth it. NOT anorexia. I didn't learn anything from my eating disorder. I have learned many things in recovery. How to take care of myself. Specific tools to cope with anxiety and depression. I have found so many wonderful people to support me, and who I can support back. That's priceless. It really is.

You could argue that recovery in and of itself is worth it. I'll agree with that. I really will. At the same time, what makes all of my efforts possible is the potential payoff at the end. Gee, I'm going to do all of this work in recovery and then sit on my butt for the rest of my life. Oh that'd get me to therapy in a heartbeat.

Yeah, right.

No, I'm doing this work right here, right now, for all of the infinite possibilities in the future. For the things I know will make recovery worth it, and for all the things that I don't yet know about. The anorexia can't do that. Recovery can.

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10 comments:

mary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mary said...

You are right, none of this is either worth it or fair.
Still, I have no doubts. You will somehow find a way to share with others that there are options, that you can dive in and get your hands dirty taking back your right to have a life that's ED free.
It will get easier. Allow it to! See if you can give yourself that much.
As for sitting on your butt when you are recovered.It's all about balance Carrie! I hope you play, work, and rest.

When It Matters Most said...

Carrie. The fact is...you are writing about it...acknowledging it...doing something about it. Others are not. Others remain in denial. I have a friend that is one that is still trapped. I can't believe the devistating force that denial can be. To her, and others that love her.

In another week it will mark the two year mark that I "broke the silence" with my friend. I have not spoken or communicated with her since. Let me correct that. I write infrequently, but I have yet to receive anything in return.

I still care. I still worry. I always will. I am not her fixer. She must decide what she wants of her life. You have decided. Be glad. I know others around you must be. You've taken a huge step...a step for the better.

When I read statements like yours, I prey that some day my friend will write one like it...having taken that huge step.

All the best.

Welcome back.

Ken

CARRIE ARNOLD said...

Mary,

I do intend to sit on my butt- if nothing else than there's no better body part to sit on. I guess I meant it more as a do nothing with the rest of my life thing. I don't think I could do that, anyway. I'm too much of a busybody. I think I know someone that can relate... /*

Ken,

Your friend is very lucky to have someone like you supporting her, even if it isn't always active. Sometimes a "knock this shit off" kind of friend is more valuable in the long run than one that just lets you go down the primrose path. You also need to take care of yourself in order to have any ability to be there for your friend. There will be regrets, yes, but that is a part of life. What you don't have to regret is doing everything that you could.

Keep writing.

Carrie

Ryanryan said...

hey carrie,

i'm eating disordered myself and have been disillusioned with recovery (forced into treatment since i'm a minor), but reading this post have definitely cheered me up. thanx!

hungry guy
ryan

MsEMPOWER said...

Hi there,
Would it be ok if I posted a link from my blog to your blog? If you want, you can link mine to your's as well.
My site is called:
The Eating Disorder Survivors Club
http://www.edsurvivorsclub.blogspot.com
Thanks!
ms em

CARRIE ARNOLD said...

Ryan,

Glad I could be of support. I, too, felt forced into recovery even though I was over 18. I don't know if it helps, but most people do feel forced- even those who ultimately recover. Hang in there. I love your blog, by the way. I totally relate to when you say that blogging is like going to confession (even though I'm not Catholic and have never been). I'm going to link to hungry guy- let me know if it's not okay and I'll take it down.

MsEMPOWER-

Oh, by all means do. I'll put a link to your blog up as well. Sweet flower pic, I might add.

Ryanryan said...

hey carrie! =) haha it's fine with me!

take care 2! =)

jmf9474 said...

What a wonderful post and so true! I'm in recovery myself and I agree completely. I would not wish an eating disorder on anyone, but so many positive things have happened since I chose to begin to recover.
And it was a choice that I made, even though I didn't think I had a choice. You see, I'm a mom of a young child, a toddler at the time of my relapse (three years ago.) I went into recovery because I didn't want my son to be without his mom. For most of the past three years, I believed that I didn't have a choice - but I did.
I made a good choice. I hope others are inspired by this post to make the choice to recover.
Because a healthy body and mind is worth it!

jeanne

MsEMPOWER said...

thanks very much! and, to this post, i have to say i agree 100%...but, you probably knew that based on my blog entries:)
all best,
ms em

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com



nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote



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