Writing From the Bandage, Putting the “Cover” in Recovery

I started writing about eating disorder recovery—one type of eating disorder recovery, to be specific—because I wanted to start writing again. I thought that giving myself a topic would focus the desire to string words together, to just write and write and write and see what the story turned out to be. What I didn’t acknowledge (even to myself) was that that  “focus” was a way out. I was writing about binge eating so I wouldn’t have to write about everything else.

“Write from the scar, not the wound.” I heard this piece of advice for the first time on Chipperish Media’s “Big Strong Yes” podcast. The best case scenario is that my writing about binge eating disorder was coming from a newly-formed, still very visible scar. One that still hurt if I happened to bend or twist too far in a particular direction. But it’s more accurate to say that I was writing from the bandage. The wound was still there, fresh and open: I was just covering it up. What gaping, bloody hole? Everything’s fine!

Covering a wound so it can heal in peace is one thing. Covering a wound so you can pretend it doesn’t exist and go on about your life while hiding your pain is another. If I can run this metaphor into the ground, bandages need to be tended to. They get funky and you have to change them. Every time I adjusted the dressing or re-bandaged the wound (wrote a blog post or put some “OMG so recovered you guys!” sentiment up on Instagram) I had to touch it, and feel the pain zing through me.

I’m unwrapping the bandage.

My story so far remains true: I’m more neutral about food and my body than I’ve ever been. I definitely feel more “normal” than I’ve felt in a long time. (I think. What is “normal,” anyway? Maybe I’ll revisit that later.) But I’m not sure I’m recovered from anything.

And that wound? It’s so much deeper than I realized.

So…now what?

This reroutes my story, which is probably for the best. I can’t picture myself talking about body image and “how to eat a moderate portion of chips” forever.

“Write the thing you’d want to read.” Or something like that. Whatever that quote is, I’m pretty sure it comes from Anne Lamott.

What I love to read (and see, and hear, and experience ) is a woman’s voice, telling her own story. Especially the awful, ugly, shame-spiral parts.

So I’m going to try that, and see how it goes.

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