I have previously written about the stark contrast of abstaining from substances versus healing your relationship with food – the very thing that keeps you alive.
The part I have been yet to write about, is what happens when the tiger is gone. What happens when the reliable friend, the demanding bully, the ever-present background hum...is gone? There is of course the emptiness. The moments of feeling alone, scared, overwhelmed, on shaky ground.
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.
No man’s land is also the space you like been avoiding your entire life.
No man’s land is the place where you bump into all of the feelings you have been avoiding. It is the place where the tiger is not available to chase them away. No man’s land can be exhausting, feel hopeless and never ending. Finally, no man’s land cannot be flown over, walked around, sprinted through or waited out.
It is to be felt. Known. Understood.
Once one has journeyed through this land without a timeframe or map, once they have walked in circles, sat in silence, listed to the echoes of their voice in the fog, once they have journeyed to the other side there is an arriving. A sense of peace. Stillness. There is no finish line or cheering crowd. Like driving long distance, the landscape changes so gradually it is only once it inexplicably looks different that it is noticeable.
If you know the fear of no-man’s land, I invite you in. For sometimes, what you are most afraid of doing...is the very thing that will set you free.
I invite you to lean into your fear, to embrace your freedom.