Having an eating disorder is more than a full-time job, it becomes a lifestyle and a way of being. I don’t need to tell you that going to a party is analogous to being put in a washing machine. A cacophony of thoughts, all competing for your attention order you to eat this and not that. Another sector will run the bargaining campaign, if you don’t eat this you may eat that. A third part of the chorus will conduct a running commentary on how you look and who is watching you, all while keeping a black book of ‘social blunders’ it can use to beat you up later.
Never going back means exactly what it sounds like. The distinction, however, is that never going back is a choice. As someone that is recovered, I do not fear falling into eating disordered behaviours or thought patterns. I do not fear that I will be blindsided or tempted or swayed. The thing about knowing is you cannot unknow it.
This is the part I like to call ‘no-man’s land’. It is where the eating disorder (the tiger) is no longer working for you, but recovery (the absence of the tiger) isn’t yet delivering on its promises. No-man’s land doesn’t have a timeframe or a compass. No-man’s land has a plentiful supply of fog, obscuring your vision of what is ahead and giving you no sense of the ‘right’ direction.
You can choose to do ‘a little bit of your eating disorder’ if you want to but there is no such thing as a little bit of an eating disorder because the truth is, an eating disorder is like a termite. It chews away at your insides until one day your house (life) falls down around you. So no, 80% doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for birthing a baby, for driving to work, for going to the toilet or handing in an essay. The fact your ED is trying to get you to do 80% is a big red warning sign it is gearing up for an attack on your recovery.’