– This is the first article in LCL’s new series of recovery stories –
A Family Disease: How one Lawyer’s Daughter Recovered from an Eating Disorder
LCL helps legal professionals, and their families. Everyone has different needs for treatment and other support. LCL can help you with assessments and referrals and provide ongoing support – for you or someone you love. Here is Molly T.’s story of recovery:
When I was in high school, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Receiving that diagnosis was simultaneously terrifying and freeing. I knew that my relationship with food was unhealthy; being forced to recognize the severity of the problem encouraged me to change. To begin healing.
My recovery story hasn’t been linear or complete — today, I consider myself to be actively in recovery — however, it has been a crucial journey of discovery and evolution.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that recovery is not a path that’s easily walked alone. It certainly hasn’t been for me. To begin with, my dad has been especially important. Early on, he helped me see food as fun and as nourishment again. He also never treated my eating disorder as something I needed to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. This was critical because I was terrified of being seen as weak or broken. I was worried people would be angry with me for what I had done. I needed compassion and hope. My dad gave me both.
My partner of nine years has been a tremendous support as well. He’s a very mindful eater, by which I mean that he listens to his body and its needs, and this has been a great example for me. Observing his relationship with food has helped me relearn how to listen to and heed my own body’s needs.
I also want to acknowledge the critical role therapy has played in my recovery. I have received extensive and ongoing therapy for anxiety, which is at the core of my eating disorder. As a person with anxiety, I struggle with feeling out of control. When I was a teenager and young adult, I dealt with that by manipulating one thing I could control: my diet, and to a certain extent, my body. Through therapy, I’ve learned healthier ways to respond to my anxiety. I’ve found healthy coping strategies that help ground me in the present, so I don’t feel so powerless and desperate for control.
I grew up in a family with strong ties to Alcoholics Anonymous, and I’ve always been fond of the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
I need serenity to not only accept the things I cannot change, but also some of those that I can — including, but not limited to, my body. Although I have the power to change the way my body looks, it is much more powerful and important for me to accept my body the way it is at any given moment.
Unconditional acceptance is something I strive for every day. I wake up every morning and consciously choose to show up in my recovery. I eat when my body signals I need food (and even when it doesn’t), I move in a way that feels good for me that day (which includes moving less when I need rest), I give myself grace and space to process when my expectations for myself and life aren’t met. This kind of acceptance is a skill that cannot be fully mastered; even so, it is one I will continue to practice for the rest of my life. Although it won’t always be easy, I know that it will absolutely and always be worth it.